Red pepper stirfry with tofu or chicken
I love this cheap, aromatic dish for a comforting weeknight dinner. The tofu (or chicken fillet) takes up the flavour of the ginger and the black bean sauce well. It’s a good “crossover” dish which means you can feed meat-eaters and all but the strictest vegetarians together. To feed 1 vegetarian 1 arnivore halve the quantity of tofu and add 1 small chicken fillet (sliced 1cm thick across the grain) at the same time as the tofu. Cook till tender. You can then divide the tofu from the meat when serving (or on your plate, as my husband does when stay pieces of tofu escape onto his plate!!). If you really can’t abide tofu, then just use a small chicken fillet per person and drop the tofu.
See my larder & shopping section for where to buy new-to-you ingredients
1 rounded teaspoon extra virgin coconut oil
1 large onion (red if possible), peeled, cut in half and sliced into wedges (like the segments of an orange)
2 large cloves garlic, peeled and crushed or chopped roughly
1 dsp fresh root ginger, peeled and finely chopped or grated
4 large red peppers, de-seeded and sliced
250g organic, gmo-free fermented tofu (cut in approximately 1.5cm cubes)
1 tbs black bean sauce from Asian shops or use home-made (see recipe below)
A squeeze of lemon juice
Optional: 1 tbs dry sherry
Freshly ground black pepper
2-3 cupfuls of cauliflower rice (home-made or from supermarket freezer section) or 100g brown basmati rice (dry weight)
- If using rice, put it on to cook (see “how to cook brown rice” post for an easy way cook a lovely golden-coloured rice).
- Throw the onions into a frying pan or wok with the coconut oil and the red peppers over a medium heat. Add a tiny splash of boiling water or vegetable stock, put a lid on, and sweat for 5-10 minutes until everything is softened a little.
- Add garlic and ginger, turn up the heat and cook for 1 minute, stirring.
- Add tofu/chicken, black bean sauce and sherry. Simmer, covered, for 5-10 mins, stirring occasionally, until the tofu is cooked through (it will swell a little when it’s cooked), and the chicken (if using) is opaque.
- Add lemon juice and black pepper and stir.
- Serve with the rice
Add tamari sauce to taste.
Use quinoa grains instead of brown rice if you want. It boosts the protein content of the meal.
You could also add in odds and ends from the fridge eg. leftover cooked green beans or cabbage or a few spring onions, sliced in 3cm lengths.
Black bean sauce:
This sauce keeps for 6-8 months in the fridge. If you own a mini food-processor it is worth making a jarful as it takes around 5 minutes to make from scratch. The type of black beans you need for this are semi-dried and are black and wrinkly-looking, like currants. They are available in the Asia Market or other oriental stores – you will need to ask for them though as they are usually labelled in Chinese. You CAN buy black bean sauce ready made but its usually packed with vitality-sapping sugar, maltodextrin and (watch out you gluten-sensitives) gluten.
4 tbs black beans
Sherry (ideally dry but sweet will do)
1. Grind 4 tablespoons black beans to a paste in a pestle and mortar or a miniature food processor.
2. Add enough sherry to mix to a paste the consistency of yoghurt.
3. Store in a glass jar with lid in the fridge for up to 6 months – the sherry preserves everything.
Why this is good for you
This recipe give you a small amount of rice (or even better, use cauliflower “rice”) and a larger amount of protein and low-starch veggies. This helps your health, waistline, and energy levels. Herbs and spices such as ginger and garlic help your liver cleanse the large amount of natural (and unnatural) chemicals we are exposed to every day. Good liver function is needed for almost all aspects of good health. Your liver is important for hormone balance, protecting you against life-threatening illness, maintaining good energy and even skin health. Fermented non-gmo soya products (eg fermented tofu, tempeh, miso) act as selective oestrogen receptor modulators, help balance hormones for both women and men.
Scientific research suggests that unfermented soya products (eg. soya “cheeze”, soya milk) are not helpful to our health. It’s best not to eat unfermeted tofu very much. Like wheat, milk, peanuts and cashews it is very high in lectins which cause temporary damage to your digestive system. If you can, then avoid regular intake of inferior (non-organic, non-fermented) tofu products. They are made using soy isolate (rather than whole soya beans)which can also can be contaminated with aluminium. Genetically modified foods cause immune suppression in animal studies and so are best avoided – good tofu will say non-gmo or organic on the package. You can keep leftover raw tofu for a week or more by covering it in salty water in the fridge.