For a while now the girlfriend and I have been talking about moving in with each other and finally we’ve done it. Initially we were going to buy a place but I work in credit and you’ve probably noticed there’s a great big credit crunch/sub-prime (although you’d probably never heard these terms before a month or two ago) crisis going on. As such my job isn’t the most secure at the minute so combined with the faltering housing market renting somewhere seemed a good option. One advantage of renting is you get to have a place a bit more expensive than you could afford to buy and so we’ve ended up in a great Victorian school conversion. It’s all double height ceilings, huge windows, wooden floors and a mezzanine level bedroom. In my eyes very cool. Before I start to sound a bit too Nigella enough of the lifestyle chatter and let’s get back on to food.
For years I’ve lived in Islington (a very respectable postcode) but although I’ve only moved three roads away from my old abode I now live in Hackney, a borough that holds the most impressive accolade as the Guardian’s worst place in the UK to live. But what do they know? It’s far from that bad though and one thing it does excel at is food. Hackney is as multi-cultural as anywhere in this country and within a few hundred metres of my home I have Turkish, Chinese, Vietnamese, Cameroonian, West Indian, Nigerian and Ethiopian restaurants along with a fantastic Polish store, a pretty impressive (if you like chickens with their heads on and cow’s feet) market and, finally, an Oriental supermarket. Not bad if you’re a fan of interesting food really.
Last week I decided to have a look through the cookbooks and was surprised to find a book full exclusively of tofu recipes, I’m going through a bit of a tofu phase at the minute – fried, boiled, silken/smooth/fermented, however – so this seemed perfect for the blog. I picked up a whole series, well pork ribs, hot and spicy and tofu, of these books when I was in Singapore last year and they're full of very interesting recipes. I thought I’d go for something with an out the ordinary ingredient so I settled on a recipe including Chinese chives (I think, we had a bit of trouble determining exactly what these were), fried tofu and king prawns. The Chinese chives I bought looked a lot like a bunch of grass, being about 18 inches long and made up of many green blades, similar to water spinach/kang kong. Actually the more I think about it the more I think these weren’t Chinese chives so if anyone wants to correct me please crack on. Not sure what they were though. The lady in the shop said they were but her English wasn't the best.
Stir Fried Chinese Chives with Tau Kwa, for 2 people, or more if you have some other dishes.
- 1 pack of fried tofu (you could use normal firm tofu which you cube, dry and deep fry yourself – 2 packs would do)
- ½ pack of Chinese chives, cut into 5cm lengths
- ½ carrot, in thin discs
- 200gr raw king prawns
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 300ml chicken stock
- 1 TB oyster sauce
- 1 ts light soy sauce
- 1 heaped ts cornflour in a little cold water
- Heat some oil in a wok till starting to smoke then add garlic and briefly fry.
- Before it colours add carrots and Chinese chives and stir-fry for maybe 30 seconds.
- Add all stock ingredients; bring to the boil and chuck in the tofu. Let heat through for 3 –4 minutes.
- Add king prawns and cornflour giving it just enough time for the prawns to change colour and the sauce to thicken.
- Serve. I chucked mine in a bowl with some egg noodles and a little stock. On rice would be good too though.
This was very tasty indeed. The green bits (after googling just now I'm positive they weren't Chinese chives now) were like the greens of spring onion, but milder, adding a nice onion taste and sweetness, the carrots firm and sweet and the prawns sweet too. Even with the combination though it wasn’t overtly sweet as the tofu and sauce gave a nice savoury edge. A definite keeper this one.