Vegan Mapo Tofu with Rose & Cherry

Traditionally made with ground pork or beef, it seems sacrilege that vegans should miss out on this divine melding of flavours, redolent with garlic and chilli oil. I have added cherry and rose, somewhat unconventional, but the sweetness and floral fragrance really make the chilli sing.


Protein & texture is derived from ground mushrooms and TVP. This is readily available online, but you can substitute with some ground nuts and extra mushrooms if desired.


Ingredients:


10g Dried Shitake Mushrooms, soaked in 200ml boiled water

100g Chestnut Mushrooms, very finely chopped

100g TVP, rehydrated according to pack instructions

5 Cloves Garlic

300g Firm Tofu, pressed, drained, and cut into 2 cm cubes

2 tbsp Rapeseed Oil

50g Fresh Cherries, stoned and finely chopped

2 tbsp Gochujang

1 tbsp Tomato Puree

½ tsp Rose Water

1 tbsp Sambal Olek

1 tbsp Crispy Chilli Oil

1-2 tsp Dark Soy & Rice Vinegar to taste


Steamed White Rice, Fresh Coriander & Spring Onions to serve

Method:


1. Drain the shitake mushrooms and reserve the liquid. Add to a food processor with the garlic and blitz to mince.

2. Heat the oil over a medium heat and fry the garlic with both mushrooms until golden and crisp, try not to move them too much as you want the water to evaporate without them steaming.

3. Add the TVP and fry for 1-2 minutes or until beginning to crisp. Add the mushroom soaking water, along with the gochujang, tomato puree, sambal olek, chilli oil and rose water. Simmer for 4-5 minutes over a low heat.

4. Taste the sauce and add enough soy to balance the flavours, it may also need a dash of rice vinegar for acidity.

5. Meanwhile bring a pot of salted water to the boil. Blanch the tofu cubes for 1 minute, drain then add to the sauce in the pan, along with the fresh chopped cherries.

6. Gently combine taking care not to break up the tofu.

7. Serve garnished with spring onion and coriander, with rice on the side