Brunch: The amazing tofu omelet, mango lassi and raw vegan carrot spice cake from Live Food Bar
Dinner: Beer-battered Tofu, Sweet Potato Fries and Mushy Peas
This week on the Everyday Veggie is British week.
I know what you’re thinking: meat cooked to leather and veggies boiled to submission, all covered with some sort of horribly fatty gravy. That’s not wholly untrue. However, in the last 10 years British cuisine has changed a lot. Not only have Gordon Ramsey and his ilk put British cuisine back on the map, but Heston Blumenthal and his previously voted Best Restaurant in the World, the Fat Duck, have revolutionized British cooking with Blumenthal’s own genius brand of molecular gastronomy.
However, despite all these changes, British chefs know that tradition is important on that little green isle, so no matter how avant-garde an eatery may be, they’ll still be a British classic on the menu – and places like the Fat Duck will still be in pub-style buildings.
Ask anyone you know and they’ll tell you that the quintessential British meal is fish and chips; more specifically, battered fish with fat, thick-cut chips (or “fries” if you must), usually served in my native north with mushy peas, gravy or curry sauce.
Having eschewed everything that used to have a mother or that used to be part of an animal in my diet, obviously this classic isn’t appearing in its normal form any time soon. However, white fish is replaced by extra firm tofu in this dish, and it’s a great walk down memory lane for me! Beer batter is a relatively new concept that brings in that other great British hobby, and I add some ground flax into the mix to bring some additional nutritional value to the finished dish.
Add some sweet potato baked chips and some homemade mushy peas and look: an instant vegan British classic.
250-300 grams firm tofu
1/2 cup wholewheat flour
1/4 cup ground flax
1 can British beer
2 medium sweet potatoes or one large
2 cups frozen fat peas
1 cup water
2 tbsp soy sauce
3/4 cup canola oil
Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius
Cut the sweet potato(es) into fat chips and toss lightly with olive oil
Bake in the oven for 30-40 minutes, turning regularly, or until they are as you like them
While the chips are baking, place the peas in a pan on the stovetop with the water, and cook over a medium heat
Cut the tofu into 10-12 “soldiers” and press with kitchen paper to dry slightly
In a bowl, mix together the flour, flax, and enough of the beer to create a thick batter consistency. This is usually between 1 cup and 1 1/2 cups
Heat the canola oil in a small pan or frying pan until hot. I like to put a lid on it so it doesn’t splatter everywhere
Take 1 slice of tofu, dip it in the batter mix, making sure both sides are covered, then throw it into the oil
Depending how hot the oil is, allow it to cook for 2-3 minutes then turn it over
When it has cooked on both sides remove and place into a sieve over the sink to drain
Repeat with all the tofu slices until they are all battered
Press with kitchen paper again to remove as much oil as possible
The water in the peas should have totally cooked down at this point. Take your hand blender and quickly blend the peas until they’re about 1/2 mushy with some peas still in tact
Stir in the soy sauce and mix well
Serve up the tofu with the sweet potato fries and the mushy peas, season with salt and and enjoy with another can of British beer, if you like!
This is the first time in about a year that I’ve fried something in so much oil, and I have absolutely no way to convince you that it is healthy, except for the soul! Obviously such a heavy meal isn’t ideal to be on regular rotation, but once in a while as a treat, its fine; just as fish and chips should be eaten!
To make this truly British, serve it in a rolled up bit of yesterday’s newspaper and douse it liberally with malt vinegar and sea salt. Eating it whilst walking along a cold and windy beach is optional, but as any Brit will tell you, this is one of the true pleasures of life. Bliss.