Happy Easter! Today was supposed to be the end of our Lenten fast, the day we would be released once again into the world of omnivorism. But we’ve decided we’re not ready to head back yet. I guess you could say we’re still riding the high of our new gastronomic adventure; cooking and eating meatlessly is still interesting enough that we’re motivated to push on. So we’re giving ourselves another month, after which Sean is going to Ireland for two weeks and worries that familial/cultural pressures will make avoiding meat truly difficult. After his trip, we — or at least he — will know whether this resolve is sustainable for the long term.
So, instead of pigging out on bacon ham and sausage for Easter brunch, we had a satisfying meal of tofu-veggie-egg scramble and sweet potato fries with homemade aioli (garlic mayonnaise). Sean’s been frying sweet potatoes all week while I’ve been at work, so I wanted to get in on the fun too.
Since we don’t have an oven and I’m wasn’t into the idea of deep-frying our fries, I just pan-fried pre-blanched sweet potato strips with a bit more oil than I normally do.
In spite (or maybe because?!) of this, the fries didn’t really get crispy :( They were still delicious though, especially with the aioli, and when they were all gone we found ourselves craving more.
The scramble was great with some ketchup. Usually if I use a whole onion and a green pepper with four eggs the veggies get really overwhelming, but the tofu balanced the textures while giving the dish more substance.
The kind of tofu I used is called 五香豆腐干 (wuxiang doufu gan, spiced dried bean curd — though it doesn’t actually feel dry), which is much firmer and meatier than regular packaged “white” tofu (even the “firm” kind), and tastes faintly of five-spice powder. They go for around 2.7 RMB/three 5x5x2cm pieces, which is a decent amount for two people — though I could easily eat three squares of these in a meal!
Sweet potato fries (pan-fried)
3 sweet potatoes (white or orange)
1 tbsp paprika
1 tsp salt, or more as needed
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp sugar
Ground red pepper/cayenne
1. Wash sweet potatoes thoroughly, scrubbing off any dirt. Peel and cut into strips 1-2cm wide. Throw into pot of boiling water and leave for about 3 minutes, or until half-cooked. Remove from heat and drain well.
2. Toss with paprika (and optional seasonings if used).
3. Heat oil in non-stick pan with heat on medium-high. Add potato strips and salt. Fry, tossing every 30 seconds until edges begin to turn dark brown (~10 mins). Add more oil as needed.
4. Serve hot with aioli (see recipe link below).
**This is not the best recipe if you want crispy fries. If you have an oven or are willing to deep-fry, I’d suggest those methods. I’m considering getting a small oven so I can make these all the time with half the oil!
3 squares 五香豆腐干 (spiced dried bean curd) or other firm tofu, diced
1 small onion, diced
1 green pepper, diced
1 tbsp milk
1 tsp olive oil
Salt and black pepper to taste
1 tsp other seasonings e.g. sesame seeds, basil, chili powder (optional)
1. Heat oil in pan with heat on medium-high. Add onion, frying until slightly browned. Add green pepper and bean curd/tofu, cooking for another 3-5 minutes. Remove from pan.
2. Beat eggs with milk. Heat pan again and add eggs, stirring until fluffy and almost fully cooked. Then put tofu/veggie mixture back in, along with salt and pepper, mixing well.
3. Serve hot with ketchup and/or other seasonings.