Beetroot Cured Salmon with Finger Lime, Horseradish Labna and Buckwheat Lavosh

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The last few months haven’t been easy for me. All of a sudden I had found myself in a completely new living environment, new job (that I didn’t really like), missing my mates and social life back in Newcastle, and feeling overall, a little bewildered at the huge changes. It was weird considering I find it so easy to travel to remote countries alone, meet new people and seek out new experiences. I think it was because I knew deep down that this is going to be my life for a good while now, not just a stepping stone to the next overseas adventure.
I’ve now come to realise that this IS a new adventure, it just doesn’t involve as many plane trips or passport stamps. I’m finally starting to gain the courage to admit what I really want. And I think this place may just help me to accomplish my goals.
With an open heart and mind I have now found myself in a new job, with beautiful, encouraging, and motivating people, who, after only one week, I feel so grateful to be a part of their business and excited for their future and mine.
I love the focus on local produce up here and the sense of sharing. Last Friday two people came in with gifts from their farms, including some beautiful finger limes. My mind immediately started racing with what I could do with them. Not surprisingly, after another 38 degree day, I firstly thought of an icy cold gin and tonic, topped with the little bursting finger lime vesicles and some juniper berries. After daydreaming about that for a while I then remembered this salmon dish that I made at Christmas, a recipe adapted from Jamie Oliver. The flavours worked perfectly together and I was also so happy with how the labna and lavosh turned out. It all looks very fancy and complicated but in fact is very easy, especially if you skip making your own lavosh and just buy some.
There were Hot Cross Buns in the supermarket the other day, so let’s just say I’m getting in here early with the perfect Easter recipe for you all.dsc_1454 dsc_1531 dsc_1537

Recipe

You will need to start this recipe 48hrs in advance

Serves 6 as an entree

Ingredients

Salmon

800g side salmon, pin boned, skin off

2 fresh beetroot, peeled and chopped

Juice of 2 limes

Juice of 2 lemons

3 juniper berries, bashed

5 tbs rock salt

2 tbs raw sugar

50ml gin

Labna

500g natural, thick greek yoghurt

1 tsp salt

1 clove garlic, finely grated

1 tsp finely grated fresh horseradish

Buckwheat Lavosh

1 tbs raw sugar

100g buckwheat

300g plain flour

30g butter, cubed

1 tsp salt plus extra

2 tsp fennel seeds

150g water

2 egg whites

To serve

3 finger limes, vesicles removed

4 baby cucumbers, thinly sliced

Bunch baby radishes, finely sliced

Baby herbs

Method

Start the labna 48hrs prior to serving.

To make the labna, in a large bowl, combine the yoghurt, salt, garlic and horseradish and stir well to combine. Place in a colander lined with a double layer of cheesecloth, over a large bowl. Bring the edges of the cheesecloth together and twist to wrap the yoghurt tightly. Place 2 or 3 tins of beans (or whatever) on top and place in the fridge to set.

Start curing the salmon 24hrs prior to serving.

To cure the salmon, place all the ingredients, except the salmon, in a food processor and process until smooth.

Place the salmon in a baking dish and pour over the beetroot cure. Spread it evenly to coat both sides of the salmon.

Place a piece of baking paper over the salmon and tuck in snuggly around the salmon. Cover tightly with a double layer of cling wrap and place in the fridge for 24hours. No longer.

For the buckwheat lavosh, pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees celsius  and line 3 to 4 baking trays with baking paper.

Combine the flours, sugar, salt and fennel seeds in a bowl. Add the butter and use finger tips to rub into the flour.

Add the water and 1 of the egg whites and stir to bring together. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic.

Cut the dough into 12 pieces and use a pasta machine to roll until 2mm thick (or use a rolling pin).

Place on to prepared trays and brush with the remaining egg white and sprinkle with a little cracked salt.

Bake, in batches, for about 20mins, or until golden and crisp (keep and eye on it!)

Remove from oven and allow to cool.

When ready to serve, remove the salmon from the cure and gently wash off any excess with as little water as possible.

Remove the labna from the cheesecloth and put into a serving bowl.

Thinly slice the salmon across the grain and arrange on a serving platter along with the radish, cucumber, baby herbs and finger lime vesicles. Serve alongside the lavosh and labna.

Enjoy!

 

 

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Grilled Asparagus with Serrano Ham and Lemon Aioli

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Here is another quick and easy yet impressive appetiser for the festive season. It can all be prepared the day before and just grilled before serving. You could serve it as an entree or as part of an antipasto plate.

You will have leftover aioli as well, it goes really well with some Christmas ham and soft white bread.

Hope you all have a lovely Christmas with friends and family, lots of food and drinks and fun times!dsc_1376 dsc_1343

Recipe
Serves 6 as part of a platter
Ingredients
20 asparagus spears
20 very thin slices serrano ham
Olive oil
1/2 lemon
Handful fresh parsley, finely chopped
1/4 cup finely grated parmesan
Cracked pepper
Aioli (makes about 2 cups)
4 cloves garlic, chopped
2 tsp salt
4 egg yolks
2 cups olive oil
2 tbs french mustard
Zest and juice of 1 lemon
4 tbs water
Method
For the aioli, place the garlic, salt and egg yolks in the bowl of a small food processor and process until combined. With the motor running, start adding the oil in a slow and steady stream until all gone. Aioli should be thick and pale like soft butter. Transfer to a bowl and add the mustard, lemon juice, zest and enough water to loosen into a creamy consistency. Cover and keep in the fridge until needed.
For the asparagus, wrap each piece of asparagus with the ham, starting from the bottom and working towards the spear, leaving the spear uncovered.
Heat a grill pan over high heat and drizzle with a little olive oil. Grill the asparagus for about 5mins, turning frequently. Remove from pan and place on to a serving platter.
Sprinkle with the lemon juice, parmesan cheese, parsley and cracked pepper and serve with some of the aioli.
Enjoy!

Kalamata Olive and Roast Almond Tapenade

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Every year I say, I’m not doing anything for Christmas, I can’t afford it, I don’t have time, blah blah blah. But then, every year, next minute, I’m elbows deep in royal icing, fighting off the flies on a 35 degree summer’s day, making gingerbread houses that no-one is going to eat. And I secretly love it.

However, I’m guessing most people aren’t like me, so here is a recipe for an impressive but very easy appetiser for these entertaining times. Will post another one tomorrow for an even easier one!dsc_1371 dsc_1396dsc_1415 dsc_1434

Recipe
Makes about 2 cups
Ingredients
500g kalamata olives
4 anchovies plus 1 tbs of their oil
2 cloves garlic
2 tbs capers
4 tbs olive oil
Juice of 1 lemon
1/2 tsp cracked pepper
1 cup roasted almonds plus a quarter of a cup of sliced to serve
To Serve
4 garlic bulbs, cut and roasted with olive oil, salt and pepper at 180 degrees for about 30mins
Cherry tomatoes on the vine, roasted at 180 degrees for about 15mins
Danish Feta
Fresh baguette (or a gluten free alterna
Fresh basil leaves
Method
To make the tapenade, first roughly chop the almonds in a food processor by using the pulse button so as not to over-chop. Empty them into a bowl.
Place the olives, anchovies, garlic, capers, olive oil, lemon juice and pepper in the processor and process until combined and relatively smooth. Empty into the bowl with the almonds and stir to combine.
To serve, place in a bowl and top with the extra sliced almonds. Place bowl on a platter with the garlic, tomatoes, feta, baguette and basil leaves.
Enjoy!

Smokey Pulled Jackfruit Burgers with Rainbow Slaw and Cashew Mayo

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After a few big months of work, parties, events, weddings and catering jobs, life is finally starting to slow down for the year. I have no more major events scheduled in for the rest of the year, apart from going to Indonesia over July and August (where I will be turning 30!), and am looking forward to a couple of months of slower/healthier living and creating lots more recipes.

I cooked this dish a couple of weeks ago as a trial dish for an upcoming wedding. The main for the wedding was to be three taco stands, a pulled pork, a fish, and this pulled jackfruit. It went down a treat and people were shocked when I told them it wasn’t meat. The texture is so similar, I actually prefer it to pork. It soaks in the flavours really well without all the fat of pork (which I know some people love).

The jackfruit is so versatile, you could match it with any flavours, I think next time I’d like to try it in a green curry.

You could also serve it with this smokey sauce in a jacket potato, on rice, in a burrito, enchiladas, or, like at the wedding, on tacos.

Any good Indian or Asian grocer should stock the tinned jackfruit in water or brine.

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Recipe

(Serves about 6-10)

Ingredients

Pulled Jackfruit

1/4 cup rice bran oil

2 brown onion, finely chopped

4 cloves garlic, minced

3 tbs smoked paprika

1 tsp cayenne pepper

3 tbs dried oregano

4 tins jackfruit in water or brine, drained

2 tins kidney beans, drained and rinsed

1 cup bbq sauce

salt and pepper

Cashew Mayo

2 cups raw cashews, soaked overnight, or boiled for an hour, drained

1 cup water

juice of 1/2 lemon

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 tbs mustard

salt and pepper

Rainbow Slaw

1/2 white cabbage, shredded

1/2 red cabbage, shredded

3 stalks celery, finely sliced

2 small or 1 large carrot, grated

1 red onion, finely sliced

2 long red chillies, finely sliced

Bunch parsley, finely chopped

1/2 cup white wine vinegar

salt and pepper

To serve

Soft bread rolls (white or brown)

Store bought sweet potato and potato chips

Siracha chilli sauce (optional)

Method

For the jackfruit, heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and cook for 5mins until softened. Add the garlic and cook for a further minute. Add the spices, jackfruit, kidney beans and bbq sauce. Being to the simmer and cook, stirring often, for about 1 hour. Use the back of a wooden spoon to squash the pieces of jackfruit against the sides of the pot to shred them apart. Taste for seasoning and add salt and pepper to suit.

Meanwhile, for the cashew mayo, put all of the ingredients into a food processor and process until a smooth paste. If your food processor doesn’t produce a smooth enough consistency you can transfer the mix to a bowl and finish it with a stick blender. If it is too thick add a little more water. Keep in the fridge until needed.

For the coleslaw, combine all of the ingredients in a large bowl and toss to combine.

To serve, fill a bread roll with the warm jackfruit, the coleslaw, the cashew mayo, the chips and a drizzle of chilli sauce if using.

Enjoy!

 

 

Oysters with Pickled Cucumber (and a note on how to make a ‘Japanese Slipper’)

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I understand the appeal of oysters, there is something wild and exciting about eating a creature like this, freshly shucked and still alive, smelling of the ocean as you tip it up to your lips…..

and then…
salty snot.

I’m sorry. I really am. I feel terrible that I can’t fully appreciate them yet. I’m getting there though. A friend recently introduced me to what she called the “Japanese Slipper”, consisting of soy, wasabi, pickled ginger and lime. I loved the flavour at first but it’s that creaminess towards the end that i’m still getting used too. Apparently this is the most sought after part!
So, after having the Japanese Slipper, and not totally hating it, I also tried a bit of a pickled cucumber dressing as well. The dressing is delicious and according to my guests, the oysters were as well.
After all, I love the ocean and appreciate everything that comes from it. I’m sure I will love oysters one day. I will never stop trying that’s for sure!
I haven’t included a recipe here for the Japanese Slipper oysters, but they are really easy, just mix some soy sauce and wasabi together, pour about a teaspoon on each oyster, top with some pickled ginger and a squeeze of fresh lime juice. Note; they also pair nicely with an icy cold glass of Frangelico and Lime.

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Recipe

Makes 12

Ingredients

12 freshly shucked oysters
130g cucumber, de-seeded, very finely chopped
1 clove garlic, very finely chopped
1/4 spanish onion, very finely chopped
Juice of 2 limes
1 tbs coconut vinegar
1 tbs caster sugar
Pinch dried chilli flakes
salt and pepper

Method

In a bowl, combine all the ingredients, except for the oysters. Stir well and leave to pickle in the fridge for at least an hour.
When ready to serve, place about a tbs of pickled cucumber dressing on each oyster. Serve with extra lime wedges, if desired.

Chinese Five Spice Kangaroo and Kimchi Buns

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This is some serious ‘asian fusion’ food, if ever I had to use that phrase. Sticky, slow-cooked, chinese five spiced kangaroo meat, sandwiched into a delicious, puffy white bun along with a kick of kimchi coleslaw, fresh, crunchy cucumber, and some creamy mayo. Textural and flavoursome, they would be a great party starter, bun in one hand, drink in the other, and a whole load of conversation about kangaroo meat, how good it is, and how more people should be choosing it over other red meats in Australia.

Kangaroo meat is lean, full of iron, full of flavour, sustainable and cheap. What’s not to love! I don’t eat red meat very often, mostly for sustainability purposes, so kangaroo is a great option for me. This was the first time I’d tried slow cooking it, and I was unsure as to wether it would work, considering how lean it is. But it was perfect!

These lotus leaf buns are really special as well. Called so because of their shape, they are traditionally stuffed with pork belly. You should be able to find them in your local asian grocer, or, if you’re really adventurous, and have some time up your sleeve, you could try making them from scratch (I went for the quick option). If you can’t find them, I would recommend using small dinner rolls or other small soft white rolls. Cause you really have to try this!

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Recipe

Makes 20 buns

Ingredients

3 tbs peanut oil
1kg diced kangaroo
1 bunch spring onion, sliced
Large knob fresh ginger, finely chopped
1 long red chilli, finely chopped
6 garlic chives*, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 bunch coriander, leaves, stems and roots, finely chopped
1 1/2 tbs chinese 5 spice powder
1 tsp szechuan peppercorns, ground
1/3 cup brown sugar
2 tbs dark soy sauce
3 tbs light soy sauce
2 tbs rice wine vinegar
1/2-3/4 cup beef stock
2 x 10 pack lotus leaf buns*
1/2 small wombok cabbage, finley sliced
1 small carrot, grated
6 small radishes, finely sliced
1 cup kimchi*, finley chopped
1 telegraph cucumber, cut into 5mm thick slices
Whole egg mayo, to serve

* Garlic chives, lotus leaf buns, and kimchi, can all be found at asian grocers

Method

Heat 1 tbs of the peanut oil in a large saucepan, over medium high heat. In two batches, brown the kangaroo quickly, stirring constantly, about 1min. Remove and set aside.
Reduce heat to medium, add the rest of the oil and cook the spring onion, ginger, chilli, garlic, and coriander, stirring, for about 2mins. Return the meat to the pan along with the chinese 5 spice, szechuan pepper, sugar, soy, vinegar and 1/2 cup beef stock. Stir to combine. Bring to the boil, reduce heat to low and cover.
Cook, stirring every 20mins or so for about 3 hrs.
Remove the lid and cook for another 30mins-1hr, stirring often and checking for a thick consistency. You will know it’s ready when you can break apart a piece of meat with the back of a wooden spoon against the side of the pan. During cooking, you can add more beef stock if the liquid seems too low, but remember you want the end result to be dry enough to go into the buns without dripping out too much. It should not be like a curry.
When ready, set aside to cool for 20mins.
Meanwhile, in a large bowl, combine the cabbage, carrot, radishes and kimchi, along with a tbs of the kimchi liquid. Stir to combine.
Just before serving, steam the buns, according to packet directions (I did them in the microwave). Keep them covered with cling wrap while assembling, to avoid them from drying out.
To assemble, open the bun, spread the top half with some mayonnaise, and on the bottom half put about 1/4 cup of kangaroo, some coleslaw, and a couple of slices of cumber. Serve with a napkins.
Enjoy!

Spiced Lamb Kofta

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This is just a quick mid-week post for these delicious and easy to make kofta. I took the photos only at the last minute, as I decided they were too good not to share. However, with a million other things going on at the moment I didn’t get any particular amazing shots. But that doesn’t change how delicious thy are!

You can dress them up or down however you please. Serve them with a tabouli salad and some tatziki for a simple dinner, or add them to your mezze platter for your next get together. We had them with some hummus, spiced olives, roasted capsicum, minted yoghurt and toasted walnut bread. We actually packed it all in a basket and took it down to the beach to watch the sunset on Valentine’s Day. Ultra romance!

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Recipe

Serves 4 as a light meal, with accompaniments

Ingredients

500g lamb mince

1/2 red onion, finely diced

1 large spring onion, white and green part, finely chopped

2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

zest of 1 lemon

2 tsp sumac

2 tsp ground cumin

1 tsp ground coriander

pinch of chilli flakes (or more if you like)

1/2 cup fresh parsley, finely chopped, plus extra for serving

1/4 cup fresh coriander, finely chopped

2 tbs pomegranate mollasses, plus extra for drizzling

salt and pepper

lemon wedges, for serving

olive oil, for cooking

Method

Combine all of the ingredients in a large bowl and use hands to combine. Cover and leave in the fridge for about an hour.

Remove from fridge and divide mixture into about 8 pieces (or 12 if you want to make them smaller for a mezze platter). Shape each piece into a short sausage shape and push onto or around skewers (or you can just leave the skewer out if you like).

Return to the fridge for another half an hour to firm up, this will prevent them falling apart while coking.

Heat a hot plate or griddle pan to medium high heat. Add a drizzle of olive oil, and cook the kofta, in batches if necessary, turning every couple of minutes, until nicely browned on the outside and just cooked on the inside. About 10 mins.

Place on a serving platter, drizzle with a little pomegranate molasses, sprinkle with extra parsley and a squeeze of lemon juice.

Enjoy!

 

Lemongrass Beef Rice Paper Rolls with Sweet Chilli Dipping Sauce

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I will not be defeated! Not by bad moods, heat, humidity, self-doubt, flies, loneliness, crap job, or, floppy, ugly un-photogenic rice paper rolls. This was my second attempt at photographing these delicious, but oh-so un-cooperative, little morsels, and I think I’ve managed to semi succeed in making them look good. Sometimes, the styling part of this blog is quite a big challenge, I never really have a plan and just look around at the last minute for something textural and interesting that suits my mood. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. But, I figure it’s really good practice for one day when I work in a really high end magazine and get to cook and style delicious food with an endless array of beautiful props. Haha!!

This was the first time I had cooked with red meat since baking a big ol’ ham at Christmas time and man, was it satisfying. Just this little bit of red meat, beautifully marinated and cooked perfectly, was just what I was craving. I’m definitely not one to enjoy a big thick steak but something like this is right up my ally. It’s a great way to make meat stretch between lots of people too, making it much more cost effective.

The dipping sauce that accompanies a rice paper roll is always a big factor in the end result. Classic sweet chilli is always a winner, but by adding a few little things, you can step it up a little and impress you’re guests with a ‘home-made’ dipping sauce. Cheeky.

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Recipe

Serves 4 as a starter

Ingredients

250g beef minute steaks

1 lemongrass stalk, white and pale green part, finely grated

1 tsp finely grated ginger

1 clove garlic, crushed

1 tbs fish sauce

1 tbs dark soy

1 tsp brown sugar

1/2 tsp pepper

peanut oil, to cook

1/4 small green papaya, grated

50g bean sprouts

1/4 red onion, finely sliced

80g vermicelli, cooked to packet instructions, rinsed under cold water

Juice of 1 lime

1/4 cup roasted, chopped peanuts

1/2 cup each of, loosely packed, mint and thai basil leaves, torn

1 tbs sesame oil

1/2 continental cucumber, thinly sliced

12 small rice paper rounds

Dipping Sauce

6 tbs sweet chilli sauce

2 tsp fish sauce

2 tbs tahini

1 spring onion, finely chopped

Juice of 1 lime

Method

In a medium bowl, combine the lemongrass, ginger, garlic, fish sauce, soy, brown sugar and pepper and stir to combine. Add the beef, use your hands to really mix well and coat the meat in the marinade. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.

To make the dipping sauce, combine all the ingredients in a small bowl and stir well to combine. Set aside.

Heat a griddle pan, frying pan or barbecue to very hot. Add the peanut oil, and cook the beef, for about 1 minute per side. Transfer to a plate and set aside to rest and cool. When cool, thinly slice arose the grain.

In a bowl combine the papaya, bean sprouts, red onion, noodles, lime juice, peanuts, mint, thai basil and sesame oil.

Half fill a large dish with tap water, one large enough to fit the rice papers.

Working with one at a time, put the rice paper in the water for about 20 seconds, or until slightly softened. Place on a clean work surface. In the middle place 2 pieces of cucumber, a few strips of beef, and about 2tbs of the papaya mixture. Fold the bottom end over the mixture, fold the ends in, and roll up to secure. Repeat with remaining rice papers and mixture.

Serve with the dipping sauce. Enjoy!

Tip: To make them look a little bit pretty, instead of mixing the herbs through with the papaya mixture, keep them whole and lay them out on the rice paper before filling and rolling.

 

 

Tofu Satay with Lemongrass, Coconut and Tahini Sauce (Vegan, Gluten Free)

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I love food on sticks! Especially the beautiful smoky satay sold hot off the grill at the markets here on the weekend, the grill plates are thick with black build up from many years of cooking these delicious morsels, I’m sure it adds to the flavour. Here, they also serve them with Surabi; delectable little steamed rice cakes served with a sweet coconut sauce, I can’t wait to go and get more this weekend and I’d also like to find a recipe for them, though it is proving hard on the internet.

Satay is often associated with peanut sauce, but the word ‘satay’ is actually more in referral to the meat on a stick part. Turmeric is a main ingredient always used on the meat to give it the distinctive yellow colour. Then, depending on where you buy it and what kind of meat is used, governs the type of sauce that is served with it. Chilli sauces, soy based, and kecap manis are all used, while peanut is definitely the most common…AND DEFINITELY MY FAVOURITE. (haha, I didn’t even mean to write that in capitals but I’m going to leave it).

I wanted to create something just as moorish as this street side snack food but with my own healthy twist. The tofu soaks in the marinade beautifully, making it really dark and salty, while the coconut sauce adds a fresh and creamy element, with a tinge of nutty flavour from the tahini. You could replace the tofu with any meat you like, if that’s what you prefer. And serve it with any sides you like, we had some steamed asian greens and a bean sprout and herb salad. Serve rice as well for a more substantial feast.

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Recipe

Serves 4

Ingredients

375g pack firm tofu

1/2 cup dark soy (regular soy will also work, or replace it with tamari for gluten free)

Thumb size piece of ginger, peeled and grated

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 tsp turmeric

About 12 metal or bamboo skewers (if using bamboo, soak them in water for at least an hour)

peanut oil, to cook

Steamed asian greens, coriander, mint, thai basil, shallots, chilli, lime wedges and bean sprouts, to serve

Lemongrass, Coconut and Tahini Sauce

1/2 cup coconut cream

1 tsp red curry paste (or any curry paste you have on hand)

1/4 cup tahini paste

2 lemongrass stalks, white and pale green part finely chopped

1 tsp brown sugar

1 tbs lime juice

1/4 cup roasted cashews

1/4 tsp salt

pinch of pepper

Method

Slice the tofu in half horizontally and then cut into about 12 long, cube shaped pieces.

Combine the soy, ginger, garlic and turmeric in a dish large enough to accommodate all of the tofu in a single layer. Lay the tofu in the marinade, turning to coat, and leave in the fridge for at least 2 hours, or overnight is fine.

Meanwhile, for the sauce, use a small food processor or stick blender to combine all of the ingredients, blending until smooth. Leave in the fridge for at least an hour for flavours to develop and sauce to thicken.

Carefully push a bamboo or metal skewer up the centre of each piece of tofu, ensuring it stays straight so that it doesn’t come out the side and cause the tofu to split.

Heat the peanut oil on a griddle pan, frying pan or barbecue plate to medium/high. Cook the tofu sticks, about 5 mins or so per side, until dark and slightly charred.

Serve with the sauce and choice of sides.

Enjoy!