I hope you were all watching Gok Cooks Chinese again on Monday night. I was pleased to see that Gok's latest show touched on tofu, one ingredient that is all too often underrated and underestimated in Britain.
Tofu is soy bean curd made by curdling (or coagulating) soy milk which is then pressed to leave a white silky solid. It is high in protein, calcium and vitamin E and is extremely low in saturated fats.
However, the word ‘tofu' unfortunately prompts a shudder when mentioned in front of a lot of people I know; it is more often than not seen as a soggy, bland and tasteless food associated with aging hippies and hardcore vegans.
As Gok says, while tofu is used to feed millions of people in China everyday, it has got a bad reputation over here as a "poor man's meat substitute". However, as he showed in the last episode, tofu is a lot more than just a good source of protein for vegetarians; it is a versatile ingredient that sucks up tons of flavour and can be used in countless Asian dishes.
I loved Gok's quick and easy vegetarian take on Ma Po Tofu (the spicy chilli and bean-based dish traditionally made with beef or pork) cooked in a simple sauce and wrapped in a basic spring onion omelette. This is definitely a recipe that I'm going to try - so simple and so quick.
I hope that Gok has convinced the nation to embrace this soy-based delight. There are also several different varieties of tofu to try, each with their own different levels of water content (dry, firm, soft, silken, etc.). Other processed types of tofu include fermented, deep-fried and frozen.
Gok's other recipes of the episode included his take on his aunt's super healthy pork and ginger soup: a fresh, nutritious and aromatic broth poured off quick-fried salty pork topped with spinach leaves, spring onion and chives - "health, wealth and happiness in a bowl; comfort, simplicity and lots of love" as he says.