This is a recipe designed for “chefs” like me, who choose their recipes on titles alone, not bothering to look at the ingredient list until the last minute. For those who are more inclined to think ahead, to peruse the component ingredients, thinking about how the flavors work together, you might be a bit stymied, if not downright turned off. Your unease would be doubled if you looked at my substitutions- agave nectar for honey (as suggested in the original recipe) and gin for rice wine (as suggested online)- agave nectar, gin, rhubarb, tofu, and chili peppers? I’m not going to lie, as I whipped up this dish, intrigued as I was, I was nevertheless fully prepared to hate the finished product. Dylan was even more doubtful but after hearing me yammer on for several weeks about how I wanted to try this very interesting recipe for a savory rhubarb dish (originally found here on Mostly Eating), he decided to play along. There were, after all, tamales, veggie burgers, and dumplings in the freezer if my creation turned out to be totally inedible.
But shock of all shocks, it was actually really good. Just how the very unusual combination of ingredients managed to work together is beyond me, but the sauce was delicious, with a spicy kick and the tanginess of rhubarb. We thought it would be great on chicken as well, if one wanted to do that sort of stir-fry. In fact, my only objection to this dish was the kale. Being fairly clueless about kale varietals, but knowing that black kale (or lacinato) is the trendy type that foodies prefer, I decided to go with that one. In actuality, something softer and less aggressive might be better, even spinach or chard. But beyond that, no complaints. If you’re looking to move beyond the ordinary when using spring’s bounty of rhubarb, this one is worth a try.
Tofu with hot and sour rhubarb sauce (serves 4)
The tofu and marinade:
1 Tbsp honey (or substitute agave nectar)
1 tsp five spice powder
Quarter tsp dried chili flakes
1 Tbsp vegetable oil (plus a little extra for cooking)
1 Tbsp rice wine (I substituted gin)
1 package plain firm tofu (14-20 oz), cut into chunks
400g rhubarb (about 3 stalks), trimmed and roughly chopped
A big thumb-sized piece of fresh ginger, peeled
A red chili (I subbed a jalapeno)
3 cloves garlic
3 Tbsp honey (or agave nectar)
3 Tbsp soy sauce
1 red chili, finely sliced (again, subbed a jalapeno, but it was spicy enough without the additional topping)
2 Tbsp cashew nuts, roughly chopped
4 spring onions, finely sliced
A small handful fresh cilantro
2 limes, halved
Brown rice (cooked, or substitute cooked white rice or noodles)
Kale, sliced (as much as you can fit in your pan as it will shrink down massively)
1. Marinate the tofu by mixing all of the marinade ingredients together and pouring the marinade over the tofu. Mix and leave aside in the fridge for 2 hours or more.
2. Put all of the sauce ingredients into a food processor and blend until smooth. Pour the resulting puree into a saucepan and simmer for about 20 minutes.
3. Heat a tiny splash of oil in a non-stick pan and sauté the tofu slices until golden. Put aside somewhere warm.
4. Just before you are ready to serve, use the residual oil in the non-stick pan (add a little more if you need it) to cook the kale until it softens a little and turns bright green. Add the cooked rice to the kale along with a scant few drops of sesame oil.
5. To serve, dish out the rice/kale mix into warmed bowls, followed by the tofu and topped with the sauce. Finish by sprinkling over the topping ingredients, giving each person half a lime to garnish.