Skip the seaweed, if you prefer, and just fry up the tofu with the coriander crust. It makes a fantastic snack or even a pre-dinner canapé, serves drizzled with lime juice or the dressing below as a dipping sauce. Serves four
45g dried wakame seaweed
40g panko crumbs
Grated zest of 2 small limes
2½ tsp coriander seeds, lightly crushed
1 tbsp black sesame seeds, or white if you can’t get them
15g coriander leaves
250g firm tofu, cut into 2cm chunks
35g plain flour
1 egg, lightly beaten
About 100ml sunflower oil, for frying
Rinse the wakame well and place in a saucepan. Cover with cold water, bring to the boil, reduce to a simmer and cook for about 10 minutes, until aldente. Drain, pat dry and set aside.
Next make the dressing. Whisk together the lime juice, sesame oil, sriracha, rice vinegar and 1/8th teaspoon of salt. Continue to whisk as you slowly pour in the groundnut oil, until fully combined. Set aside.
Place the panko, lime zest, coriander seeds and sesame seeds in a bowl. Add ½ teaspoon of salt and mix well. Toss the tofu in the flour, followed by the egg and then finally toss it in the breadcrumb and mix until well coated.
Heat the oil in a medium frying pan placed on a medium-high heat. Once the oil is hot add half the tofu pieces and fry for 4 to 5 minutes, turning so that all sides turn golden-brown and crispy. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on kitchen paper. Repeat with the last of the tofu, adding a little more oil to the pan if necessary.
Cut the wakame into 2-3cm slices and place in a large bowl along with the coriander leaves. Pour over the dressing and stir well. Divide between the plates, top with the tofu and serve at once.
In 2009 I travelled to Tokyo with the sole purpose of eating. I have always liked Japanese food but this time I was blown away, completely taken over by food and by the fact that the Japanese, like no other culture that I know of, are all foodies. It was fantastic being in the company of so many who, just like me, are willing to queue for ever for the best sponge cake in the world, the finest slice of raw fish or the greatest soba noodles. The latter I tasted, along with dozens of businessmen in fancy suits, at Yabusoba, an unassuming restaurant in the old neighbourhood of Kanda.
Soba noodles, made of buckwheat, are often served cold with a flavoursome dipping sauce. Wakame is a sea vegetable with a mild salty flavour and a slurpy texture. Other varieties of seaweed can be used as substitutes here. Or, if ocean flavour is not your thing, replace with thinly sliced radishes.
(p 188, Plenty)