While tofu can taste rather bland and uninteresting when eaten plain, it does absorb flavours brilliantly and will do this all the more efficiently if you drain the bean curd (as shown in the recipe), before cooking.
Frying off the tofu at the start means that it develops a nice, crisp texture, while braising it in the salty-sweet ginger and garlic-infused liquid adds interest. Choose firm, rather than silken or soft tofu for this recipe, as it will withstand the high heat better and keep its shape.
Tofu is an excellent source of low-fat, low-sodium protein and is high in B vitamins, calcium, iron and selenium, so is really worth experimenting with and is extremely versatile.
The combination of nutrient-rich spinach and broccoli, which is high in vitamins A and K, is believed to help prevent cancer and contains glutamic acid, a protein that helps to lower blood pressure, works really well. However, a number of other vegetables - soy beans, bok choi, baby sweetcorn or mushrooms, for example - could be added or used instead.
Braised tofu with broccoli and spinach (Serves 4)
350g firm tofu
3 tbsp vegetable oil
1 garlic clove, peeled and thinly sliced
3x3cm piece ginger, peeled and thinly sliced
1 star anise
1 tbsp soy sauce
tbsp oyster sauce
1 tbsp soft brown sugar
1 head broccoli, cut into small florets
150g mange tout
200g baby spinach
1 red chilli, deseeded and thinly sliced
4 spring onions, thinly sliced on the diagonal
Place the block of tofu between two chopping boards lined with kitchen paper. Put a heavy weight (a hefty book works well) on the top and leave to drain for at least 15 minutes. Pat dry, before slicing into 3cm cubes.
Place a wok containing two tablespoons of vegetable oil over a medium-high heat. Add the tofu and cook for three to four minutes, until light golden-brown. Remove and drain on kitchen paper.
Return the pan to the heat and add the final tablespoon of oil, followed by the garlic, ginger and star anise.
After a couple of minutes, pour over the soy sauce, oyster sauce, sugar and water, before adding the tofu. Stir well, bring to the boil and cook for 10 minutes.
Add the broccoli and mange tout to the pan and cook for a few more minutes, until the broccoli is tender but not mushy and the sauce has reduced to a sticky, syrupy consistency. Remove the pan from the heat, stir in the baby spinach and sprinkle over the red chilli and spring onions. Serve immediately with brown rice or wholewheat noodles.
Average nutritional information for a serving of stir fry with crisp tofu and oyster sauce
Calories from fat: 72
Total fat: 8g
Saturated fat: 1.5g