When we decided to go vegan for the month, I thought that we better embrace tofu. This was one of the first meals we created using tofu and it actually was enjoyed by all. I have been told that tempe on the other hand is TOTALLY GROSS. When incorporating a new food, such as tofu, into our diet, I try and keep everything else familiar – and that’s why I started with this tofu and sweet potato noodles recipe.
I knew that even if the boys didn’t want to eat the tofu, they would eat the sweet potato, carrots and peas included in the coconut curry – oh and the rice noodles! Have you ever met a kid that doesn’t like rice noodles?
Tofu has been around since ancient times, and is reported to have been first made in ancient China, sometime in the 100s BC. It has a mild flavor, and soaks up the flavors of any ingredients that surround it. It comes in various consistencies, from silken to extra-firm, and appears as a white, smooth, somewhat “spongy” block.
Tofu is made through a process of curdling fresh, heated soy milk, and then adding a coagulant. In ancient times — and in some traditional recipes — the coagulant is natural. However, much of the tofu you’ll find at the store is likely made with a chemical coagulating substance.
Tempeh is a fermented, whole food product. It is made by naturally fermenting cooked soybeans for several days. It is fermented with the help of a mould known as Rhizopus oligosporus. Once fermented, the soybeans are pressed into a mould.
The resulting product is dry, firm, chewy, and somewhat brown in colour. Unlike tofu, which has a smooth, uniform consistency, the pressed, whole soybeans are visible in tempeh. The flavour is stronger as well; it can be described as slightly sweet, nutty, and “earthy.” However, it also absorbs other flavours well.
VEGAN TOFU AND SWEET POTATO NOODLES
1 sweet potato
1 bunch coriander
70g vegetable coconut curry paste
140ml can coconut milk
300g fried tofu triangles
200g dried rice noodles
100g green peas
50g fried shallots
1 tbs vegetable oil
125ml (½ cup) water
Peel the sweet potato and carrot, then cut into 1.5cm chunks. Finely chop the coriander, including the stems.
Bring a large saucepan of salted water to the boil for the noodles. Heat the oil in a wok or large deep frypan over medium heat. Stir-fry the curry paste for 1 min or until fragrant.
Add the coconut milk and the water, stir to combine, then bring to a simmer. Add the sweet potato and cook, stirring occasionally, for 8 mins or until almost tender.
Cut the tofu in half. Cut the lime into wedges. Add the tofu to the sweet potato mixture and cook, stirring, for 5 mins or until warmed through.
Cook the noodles in the pan of boiling salted water for 3-4 mins until al dente. Drain in a colander.
Stir the peas and coriander into the curry and cook for a further 1 min or until warmed through. Season with salt. Divide noodles among bowls and top with the curry. Scatter over the fried shallots and serve with the lime wedges.
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