Photography by Tracey Creed
Assisted by Amandine Paniagua
Recipe by Amandine Paniagua and Tracey Creed
Words by Tracey Creed
Published June 12 2019
Updated October 28 2019
In a small bowl, whisk together all marinade ingredients until well combined. In another bowl, add tofu previously diced and pour over a quarter of the marinade, brushing tofu cubes with the mixture. Set aside for approximately 15 minutes. Reserve remaining marinade.
To prepare noodles, follow your package directions. Otherwise, bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil, add noodles and cook for 8 minutes or until tender, stirring. Drain noodles when ready and set aside.
Heat a wok over medium-high heat, add sesame oil, marinated tofu and cook tossing for 10 minutes, until tofu starts to be crispy and browned. Pour half of the reserved marinade and cook for another minute. Add asparaguses, mushrooms, bok choy with the remaining marinade and stir-fry for another 5 minutes. Add cooked noodles, toss to coat.
To serve, divide tofu stir-fry and edamame between bowls, top with a handful of bean sprouts, spring onion, sesame seeds, chilli flakes. Sprinkle sea salt and cracked pepper. Serve immediately.
Store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge, they will keep for up to 3 days.
There are so many ways to make stir-fry, this is ours - vegan, influenced by Donna Hay after going through our archives of Fresh and Light magazine, this meal was part of a festive menu we developed for Christmas 2018. I love the umami flavour, slightly spiced, combine with traditional Asian ingredients as well as some not so classic, and marinated tofu, source of protein. Sophisticated yet simple and nourishing, this recipe is ideal for a special occasion, alternatively a virtuous meal, since everybody loves noodles. In addition, this meal takes benefit from spending a night or so in the fridge, while the marinade unleashes generous flavours. So good, we hope you enjoy this dish as much as we did. ⠀
The rich miso chilli marinade is essential in this recipe, blending natural sweetness, some spice and creamy miso. We used Misomite from Urban Hippie, a brand I discovered in issue 7 of Stone Soup syndicate. Based on white miso, it is made with fermented soy beans, but with a different ratio containing less salt and more rice. Rich in probiotics, this jar of goodness is fantastic, sweeter than traditional miso, Also super versatile, Misomite is perfect for including in an abundance of recipes, creamy dressings or to season marinades like in this chilli tofu recipe. I also enjoy this product because it comes in a glass jar, win-win.
Noodles are one of my favourites, a regular staple in my kitchen though challenging to find noodles in bulk in New Zealand. In addition to bringing extra nutritional benefits, noodles are quick and easy to prepare, and you can make a sizeable amount, leftovers for throughout the week. I found noodles gives an elegant twist to a dish, different from traditional pasta. In this recipe, we used buckwheat (gluten-free) noodles for its earthy flavour, though any type of noodles will work fine. Afterwards, your flavours are coming from the marinade, thoroughly blending noodles with this preparation will enhance the flavour. We chose to accompany these noodles with bok choy and asparagus, vitamin-rich vegetables, preferably organic, slightly cooked, gold and soft. We’ve also added mushrooms for their antioxidant properties; they pair well with sesame seeds for some extra iron. To balance, we added handfuls of edamame and bean sprouts for something fresh. As usual, feel free to adapt this recipe with any greens you prefer, according to your taste and budget. Flexibility is the power of stir-fry.
For the most part, this recipe is effortless, yet tofu requires preparation to some extent. To obtain a satisfactory result, go for firm tofu; it keeps shape under pressure. I like my cooked tofu crispy, as a consequence an additional step of draining the block is necessary. Set a small grid or absorbing fabric in the bottom of a plate, place in tofu and press with another heavy plate or something weighty, like a cast-iron pan. It will look like some sort of Babel tower on your kitchen bench, but it is worth the effort. Once pressed, tofu is ready to absorb flavours. Immerse tofu cubes in a generous amount of marinade and let infuse. Lastly, tofu requires a high heat (preheat your pan), but check the heat each time you add another lot of tofu into the work. This will avoid dry tofu cubes since the tofu will continue to cook in the pan until mixed with noodles.
Tofu is made from soy milk curd, processed slightly similar to cheese making except the base milk is from soy instead of an animal. Curd is then shaped into blocks; the final product obtained either soft, firm or extra-firm.. There are issues surrounding soy beans, production and GMO, so we choose to source soy-based products carefully, and that includes tofu. In this recipe, we used Tonzu Organic Tofu, certified organic through Biogro, New Zealand label. Tonzu is a company supporting The Living Wage campaign aiming to remunerate workers at a rate that enable them living with dignity and participate in society. It is often said “we vote with our dollars”, we think buying from companies that don’t compromise on quality while supporting a healthy work culture through fair wages is worth the investment.
The popularity of soy beans comes from their high protein level and extra oil abundance, more than any other legume. Therefore, soy beans are an excellent food supply for livestock and significant source for vegetable oils and biofuels. As a matter of fact, only 6% of soy beans are used for human consumption. Furthermore, healthy food-grade soy beans demand is steady, projected to be likewise over the next years. The strongest driver of soy production remains animal feed with demand predicted to keep increasing, before biodiesel production.
Consequently, yield improvements have not been sufficient to continue with demand over the years; most was met by expanding soy beans cultivation in new areas such as tropical forests. Therefore, according to the UCSUSA, soy beans production is one of the four major drivers responsible for widespread deforestation, thus global warming, besides displacement of small farmers and indigenous communities over the planet. In addition, soy beans are one of the top 3 GMO crops in the US, principal producer in the world, Brazil and Argentina ranking respectively second and third. In these Latin American countries, the negative consequences of large scale industrial soy production are global.
To summarize, main issues started 20 years ago when tropical forest soils became viable for soy beans production, granted by advances in farming methods and different crop varieties. They made possible soy beans growth in tropical conditions. Large areas from the Amazonian forest were targeted to source new land, until public outrage early 2000s, which lead to the transnational Amazon Soy Moratorium, direct ban of soy conversion in the Amazon forest after 2006. Successful regarding conservation, this agreement does not cover the entire biome of the Amazonia, unfortunately. Other regions far from the lush jungle are victims of deforestation: major carbon reservoirs from the Gran Chaco in Argentina to the Cerrado in Brazil, along with areas in Paraguay and Bolivia, where environmental protections and regulations are fewer than in Brazil. This mass deforestation is a problem because it releases millions of tonnes of greenhouse gas into the atmosphere, accelerating global warming and so climate change. Led by the trade group The Roundtable on Responsible Soy, a movement is pushing to set higher-than-market standards for the production of soy. However, as of 2013, these efforts only covered about 1% of Brazil’s total production.
So what can we do about that? To begin with, challenge the public’s perception of soy - end conversations holding vegetarians and vegans responsible for global warming because of their tofu consumption. Quite the opposite, soy beans production shaped for the livestock industry is what make soy a controversial crop. Otherwise, as someone following a plant-based diet, the few things you can take responsibility for is your soy consumption. After animal product intake, there are two other important points to be vigilant about. First is how your soy is processed, always choose organic soy beans instead of conventional or natural to avoid the risk of soy beans production processes involving petrochemical solvent. Then be aware of where manufacturers source their soy beans, checking it is GMO-free, not extracted from rainforest regions, part of a crop-rotation system, and as local as possible. In New Zealand, this remains challenging, if not impossible. Focusing on the aspects of where your food comes from or how it has been transformed plays an essential role in reducing climate change effects. At the end of the day, caring about your food is caring for the environment.
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