Smoky garlic vegan tofu steak


This is the main course from my vegan tasting menu for the July supper club, in Crystal Palace. It is a labour of love, as the tofu quietly takes over an hour to cook, but the result is worth the wait. The tofu is griddled and wrapped in nori seaweed, then rubbed with smoked paprika, and braised in a garlic butter, meaning you get a seriously flavoured and soft piece of tofu.

Serves 4

600g new or Charlotte potatoes

8 tbsp olive oil, plus extra to drizzle and fry

1 tbsp chopped fresh mint

1 x 400g block of firm tofu 

1 sheet of nori seaweed 

1 tsp smoked paprika 

1 tsp nectar 

zest and juice of 2 lemons 

2 garlic cloves, finely chopped 

50g vegan butter

1 tbsp chopped flat leaf parsley, plus extra sprigs to garnish 

half a (200g) cauliflower

2 courgettes, 1 yellow and 1 green, sliced 

edible flowers

100g watercress

10 basil leaves, torn

20g vegan yogurt 

10ml vegan milk  

sea salt and black pepper 

Place the potatoes in a saucepan and cover with cold water. Bring to the boil, then simmer for 15 mins, then refresh with cold water until the potatoes are cold. Dress with 2 tbsp of the olive oil, salt and pepper, and mix in the mint. 

Quarter the tofu block lengthways, so you have four long blocks. Cut the nori sheet into four and wrap each nori piece around each piece of tofu. Score criss cross lines into the sides of the tofu without nori on and then rub the smoked paprika into the tofu. Salt and pepper. Brush with olive oil.

Preheat a griddle pan to hot. Cook the tofu on the griddle pan, for 3 mins on each side of the tofu, then transfer the tofu to a baking tray. 

Preheat the oven to 140°C and add the nectar, juice of 1 of the lemons, 1 garlic clove, butter, 2 tbsp of the olive oil and 50ml water to the baking tray. Cover the tofu with the mixture within the tray. Bake for 40-50 mins. Mix in parsley. 

In the meantime, place the cauliflower in a large saucepan and cover with boiling water. Bring to the boil and then simmer for 10 mins. Drain and cool with running cold water until the cauliflower is cool. Drain thoroughly and allow to dry. Transfer the cauliflower to a blender and add 2 tbsp olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Blend until very smooth. Cover and chill until needed. 

Brush the courgette slices with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper, then preheat the griddle pan and griddle the slices for 2-3 mins on each side. Transfer to a bowl and mix in the zest of 1 lemon. Cover and chill until needed. 

Divide the cauliflower puree between the middles of each plate and smooth into a circle with the back of spoon. Top the cauliflower puree with a layer of courgette slices, then top with a mixture of the flowers, watercress and basil. Place the tofu on top. 

In a small bowl, mix together the remaining chopped garlic clove, yogurt, milk, remaining lemon juice and zest and remaining olive oil, and season with black pepper. Dressing the dishes with the yogurt dressing and serve.

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