Deep breath….I’ve just finished a very long, explosive email to the letting agents handling my daughter’s new student house she’s sharing with three other uni friends.
Why are students treated as if they are second-class citizens? It’s truly shocking what the four of them have had to deal with over the last few months, including at one point losing their most favourite house to another bunch of students to later find out – and not from the landlord or the letting agent – that the aged landlord would have been living with them, too. Lucky escape!
We thought the whole debacle was finally over last Saturday when she was due to move into her new home. Contracts signed, fees paid, rent paid… but no the landlord and letting agent decided to fall out and no keys were exchanged. So we had to turn back the car laden with Ella’s belongings and return home….
A good meal was called for and something that didn’t take too long to prepare but still revived a tired, stressed and frustrated daughter (and jaded parents). I opted for salt and pepper tofu from my brand new book The Part-time Vegetarian, served simply with jasmine rice and steamed pak choi. (There’s also a recipe in the book for salt & Szechuan pepper squid – hence the book’s title.)
I’m really excited about my new book and can’t wait to tell you more about it in my next blog, but for now here’s a taster…
Salt & Szechuan Pepper Tofu
500g/1lb 2oz tofu, drained, patted dry, cut in half lengthways and then cut into 1cm/½in thick slices
1 tsp black peppercorns
1 tsp Szechuan pepper
1½ tsp sea salt
sunflower oil, for deep frying
3 spring onions, diagonally sliced
1 medium-sized red chilli, deseeded and finely sliced
1 lime, cut into wedges
jasmine rice and pak choi dressed in soy sauce, to serve
1 Arrange the sliced tofu between two layers of kitchen paper to drain and remove any excess water.
2 Meanwhile, put the black peppercorns and Szechuan pepper in a large, non-stick frying pan over a medium heat and toast for 1–2 minutes, tossing the pan frequently, until they smell aromatic. Tip the spices into a grinder or pestle with the salt and grind to a powder.
3 Put the cornflour into a shallow bowl and stir in the ground spice mixture. Lightly beat the eggs in a second shallow bowl.
4 Heat enough oil to half-fill a large saucepan over a medium heat. It’s hot enough when a cube of bread turns golden in 35 seconds. Dip each slice of tofu into the egg and then the cornflour mixture until coated all over. Fry in batches for 3 minutes until golden and crisp. Drain on kitchen paper and keep warm in a low oven while you prepare all of the tofu.
5 Scatter the spring onions and chilli over the tofu and serve with wedges of lime, jasmine rice and pak choi by the side.
The Part-time Vegetarian (Flexible Recipes to Go – Nearly – Meat-free), Nicola Graimes, Watkins Media. ISBN 978-1-84899-265-8.