River Cottage Australia

Three Ways To Cook Tofu

While tofu has long been a staple for vegans and vegetarians, it is gaining new popularity in the mainstream market.

In the latest episode of River Cottage Australia, renowned meat-lover Paul West makes his own tofu and creates an incredible crispy tofu salad.

Here are three other delicious ways to serve tofu:

Vegetarian Mapo Tofu

Traditionally made with pork, vegetarian mapo tofu (pictured) uses rich shitake mushrooms instead, giving the dish a beautiful umami hit.

Add more or less chilli to suit your tastes, and leave the mushrooms whole if you love the springy texture. Fresh mushrooms are perfect, but dried shitake give this dish additional richness.

Mapo literally translates from Chinese as being ‘pockmarked’ grandmother, but this favourite Sichuan dish is affectionately known as grandma’s tofu. It’s hearty, warming, and a little spicy.

Serves 4.


30g (about 10 small) dried shiitake mushrooms, rinsed
1 tbs vegetable or peanut oil
2 tsp fresh finely grated ginger
3 tbs chilli bean sauce* (See note)
2 tsp fermented black beans (optional)
1 tbs soy sauce
400g silken tofu, cut into 4cm cubes
8 spring onions, finely sliced diagonally
1 tsp Sichuan pepper, ground in a mortar and pestle


  1. 1Rehydrate mushrooms by placing in a bowl and covering with 1 ½-2 cups boiling water, let stand 10 minutes. Reserving water, slice mushrooms thickly and set aside, or leave whole if preferred.
  2. Heat oil in a wok over a medium-high heat, add the ginger and mushrooms and stir fry 2-3 minutes, until fragrant. Add the chilli bean sauce and cook 1 minute. Add about 1 cup of reserved shitake water and the fermented black beans, if using. Bring to a simmer, add the tofu and gently fold through. Reduce heat to medium low, add half the spring onions and stir in Sichuan pepper. Let simmer 10 minutes.
  3. To serve, spoon mapo tofu over steamed mixed colour rice, scatter over remaining spring onion.

*Note: Chilli bean sauce is available from good Asian grocers.


Crunchy Asian Coleslaw with Tofu, Mint and Cashews

Coleslaw doesn’t have to be the soggy thing somebody brought along to the barbecue. Textured, crunchy and full of zing, this Asian tweak on coleslaw is given a protein kick with marinated tofu.

The dressing is sweet, sour and hot instead of the traditional mayonnaise. A Japanese mandolin makes short work of the julienne process.

Serves 4


½ small savoy or Chinese cabbage (wombok)
1 Lebanese cucumber, cut into julienne
1 medium carrot, cut into julienne
3 spring onions, cut into julienne
½ cup mint leaves
½ cup coriander leaves, stalks finely chopped and reserved
½ cup Asian basil leaves, if available
1 red chilli, finely sliced
2 tbs sesame seeds, toasted
250g marinated firm tofu (plain soy works well)
2 tbs cashews, toasted and roughly chopped

1 tsp brown sugar
2 tbs rice vinegar
1 tbs fish sauce
1 tbs soy sauce
1 tsp sesame oil
1 tbs extra virgin olive oil


  1. For the dressing, combine ingredients in a small bowl and whisk. Set aside.
  2. Finely shred the cabbage and place in a bowl, then add cucumber, carrot, onion, herbs, chilli and sesame seeds. Thinly slice tofu and toss with the vegetables.
  3. Dress salad, adding a little dressing at a time to suit taste, toss together, scatter over nuts and serve. 


Tofu Summer Rolls

Adults and children alike love eat, and some even love making, summer rolls. Packed with crunchy veg and soft tofu, they are completely customisable according to taste.

Make these for a crowd, or do ahead and store in airtight containers for school and work lunches. Offer soy sauce or sweeter kecap manis for dipping. It’s portable food and its best.


200g firm tofu, cut into thin slices
2 Lebanese cucumber, cut into matchsticks
1/2 cup each mint leaves and Thai or regular basil
½ cup (about 16) Vietnamese mint leaves
2 spring onions, finely sliced diagonally
1 chilli, thinly sliced (optional)
100g bean sprouts
½ lime, freshly squeezed
1 tbs fish or soy sauce
150g packet rice paper wrappers


  1. Place all ingredients except rice paper wrappers in a large bowl and toss together well.
  2. Fill a shallow, wide bowl (to fit one rice paper wrapper) with cold water. Place one wrapper in the cold water and let sit 30 seconds, then transfer to a clean tea towel laid out flat as a work surface.
  3. Place 2 tablespoons mixture in the middle of the wrapper and fold in the sides of the sheet, then roll up to enclose tightly, without tearing. The wrapper will continue to soften as you work. Set aside on a wooden board (to avoid sticking). Repeat to make 16 rolls. Serve with extra lime wedges and kecap manis or soy sauce, for dipping.

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