Crispy-Soft Tofu on Buckwheat Soba

 

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So here’s something easy to do with those garlic scapes I was raving about. Another thing, I’ve realised they’re a lot easier to come by than I thought, and I’ve eaten them often in the past without knowing exactly what they were, having bought them at Asian supermarkets (Tai Ping, Silver Bell and the like). There they’re called garlic shoots and are sold longer, but still not really curly, with the flower head lopped off.

Anyway, a quick recipe idea for using garlic scapes:

-Pour hot water over dried wood ear fungus* (also called black fungus -sounds lovely, doesn’t it?) and soak for an hour or more.

-Mix a dressing (approx equal quantities, a bit less of the oil) of gochujang, Japanese soy or tamari sauce, sesame oil, mirin and rice wine vinegar, with some toasted white sesame seeds.

-Coat large pieces of firm tofu in a mix of tapioca (or rice, potato, corn) flour, dried chilli, powdered ginger, dried seaweed such as Pacific Harvest Sea Lettuce.  Heat 1/4 cup or so of rice-bran oil in a wok and when it’s bubbling, fry tofu on each side till golden and crispy on the outside.

-Meanwhile blanch garlic scapes and courgette (or other green vegetable), then stirfry over high heat with softened black fungus and a little oyster or mushroom sauce.

-Cook buckwheat soba according to instructions (about 5 minutes in boiling water, then refresh and drain very well), and divide between serving bowls. Top with the stirfried vegetables and then the crispy tofu, with a few petals of pickles ginger on top. Pour over dressing and serve.

*Wood ear fungus is sold dried at Asian supermarkets. It needs to be soaked in hot water for an hour or so before cooking with it, to soften, It swells considerably, so be frugal with how much of the dried stuff you use or you’ll end up with a lot going to waste. It’s almost tasteless, but it’s all about the texture, which remains delightfully crunchy even after blasting in a hot wok or long slow braising. Here’s what it looks like:

 

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