Tofu with Chili SunButter Sauce

No-peanut sauce

Regrettably, I am very allergic to peanuts and all things containing them. This means that I have never known the (supposed) joys of peanut butter, peanut butter cookies, Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups and any kind of Asian peanut sauce with noodles. Being slightly more enamoured with dinner over dessert I have found the latter to be the most disappointing and as I can’t even remain in a room containing peanuts for very long I am left to stare at these spicy sweet dishes on the pages of cookbooks and magazines. I’ve had a jar of SunButter, “faux” peanut butter made with sunflower seeds, in my fridge leftover from sensitive house guests a few months back and I’d been ignoring it until last week when I rediscovered a particularly enticing recipe from the cookbook Great Vegetarian Food released by the Australian Women’s Weekly in Australia. Excitedly, I prepared the recipe using SunButter instead of real peanut butter and with a few minor adjustments (such as omitting the sugar as SunButter is already sweetened) I was able to prepare and eat my first bowl of imitation spicy peanut sauce with noodles and tofu. Ian assured me that the taste was “really close” to the real thing and since I’ll never be able to eat the real thing this is completely authentic in taste for me and anyone else unable to eat peanuts or nuts in general.

tofu with chili sunbutter sauce:

2 Tbsp. canola oil

1 package of extra firm tofu, drained and cubed

1 red pepper, cut into thin strips

1 small head of broccoli, cut into small pieces

1 small bunch of asparagus, cut into 1-inch long chunks

3 cups of spinach, washed and dried

3 cloves of garlic, minced

3 red Thai chilis, minced

2 tsp. sambal oelek

1/4 cup of SunButter or other peanut butter substitute (if unsweetened add 2 tsp. of sugar to the sauce)

1 Tbsp. rice wine

1 Tbsp. hoisin sauce

1 Tbsp. soy sauce

1 Tbsp. mild sweet chili sauce

3/4 cup of water

1/3 cup of roasted pepitas

4 scallions, chopped

Generous handful of chopped cilantro

Lime wedges

Soba noodles, rice noodles or whole wheat spaghettini, cooked according to package directions

1. Combine the sambael oelek, SunButter, rice wine, hoisin sauce, soy sauce, mild chili sauce and water in a blender, blitz until smooth and set aside.

2. Heat a heavy skillet over medium-high heat until very hot. Dry fry the tofu by placing in the skillet with no oil and cooking for a few minutes on each side until brown, this will give a wonderful chewy texture to the tofu. Remove with tongs to a nearby plate and set aside.

3. Heat the canola oil in the same skillet and add the minced garlic and Thai chilis, cook for about 30 seconds or until fragrant. Add the vegetables and stir-fry until crisp tender adding the spinach in the last minute of cooking.

4. Stir in the SunButter sauce and briefly heat through, the sauce will bubble and thicken quickly as soon as it is exposed to heat. Take the skillet off of the heat and add the noodles of your choice, scallions, roasted pepitas and cilantro. Serve with additional cilantro scattered on top and a lime wedge alongside an almost freezing bottle of Chinese beer.

I love music that sounds lazy. By that I mean music that sounds lazy not in effort but in mood, it’s so much easier to become and then remain relaxed when your soundtrack extrapolates on this sentiment. BrightBlack Morning Light is the answer my lazy music prayers, it’s smooth and dark and feels half-asleep moody continuously as each albums steadily plays as I cook, eat and just lie on my couch in the slowly receding almost-summer dusk.

BrightBlack Morning Light – Everybody Daylight

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