I miss the days when things were simple. I also miss the days when I knew which place to call home. Today, right now, this very moment, I’m confused and everything seems just a tat too complicated. I’m not even going into politics here but has there been a time in history when there was more of a mess (thank you internet and social media for the information overflow) than it is today? Right! But then again it’s a time I wouldn’t want to miss.
Now I suddenly feel the urge to voice my opinion, do something for our community, get back to my German roots and actually make up my mind what I want to do with my future. Up until the beginning of last year I had a very casual (not indifferent but also not very strong) opinion about so many aspects of my life. “Are you proud to be German?” – “I guess so, Germany is a great country…”. “What’s you favorite German food?” – “Pfff not that I can recall one on the spot but I like Vietnamese spring rolls.”. “What can you do for your community back home in Germany as well as the one where you currently live?” – “Nothing?”. “And what about the immigrants that come to Germany?” – “They are welcome but not sure how to actually integrate them and make everything else work.”
Not that I all of the sudden have a convincing answer to these questions and all the others that have been running around in my head. But I’m finally asking them. And I’m realising that my place in this world is no different from that of many immigrants. I’m not talking about experiences, economic status or religious beliefs. I’m talking about food. About my culture, my memories, my relationship with childhood dishes. I have recently started reviving my favorite German childhood meals and customising them to my current lifestyle. It’s so much fun researching and reading up on the history of each dish, studying old recipes and coming up with healthier ways to prepare them while staying true to the core idea and taste of each dish.
The whole process has given me a chance to reconnect with a place I once called home. It allowed me to better understand the values I grew up with. Although I’m still a world traveller at heart my mind has finally reserved a little corner for my German heritage. Now I’m just hoping that you love my German classics with a healthy twist as much as I do. Have you already seen the recipe for Baked Sweet Potato with Chive Cream & Cucumber Salad? Just as the Crispy Tofu Bowl with Baby Potatoes and Mustard Coconut Dressing, it’s inspired by my grandmothers cookings.
In German it’s called “Senfei” which can be translated into eggs in creamy mustard sauce and was usually served with cooked yellow potatoes. Despite the fact that I replaced the egg with crsipy tofu, you can actually enjoy this bowl with a soft-medium boiled egg. That’s exactly what I prepared for my boyfriend. He got the egg version, I ate the tofu one. The mustard coconut dressing is probably more intense/mustard-y than most dressings you know but that’s the intention. Combines with the potato and salad, it has the right intensity. Also, us Germans love mustard, so if you are not too fond of mustard just add some more coconut cream.
Crispy Tofu Bowl with Baby Potatoes & Mustard Coconut Dressing (v|gf)
Even if tofu is not your typical German food staple, it is widely available in Germany and many more countries now. It’s a great ingredient to replace eggs or meat in some dishes. Until recently I had only eaten it marinated and uncooked. Following a recipe for Crispy Baked Tofu by Cookie + Kate has been an eyeopener to a new world of tofu love. I prepared a little ‘how to make crispy tofu’ guide with step by step photos of the coating process. It’s super easy and you only need 4 ingredients: the firm tofu, olive oil, tamarind or soy sauce and cornstach.
How to make Crispy Tofu
- 400 gr / 1 block /14 oz extra firm tofu
- 1 tbsp olive or grape seed oil
- 1 tbsp tamarind or soy sauce
- Optional: pinch of garlic powder
- 1 tbsp cornstrach
- 3 tbsp grape seed or coconut oil for frying
- 200 gr baby potatoes
- 2 cups /2 handful/ 150 mixed salad green or fresh spinach leaves
- ½ a small cucumber
- 1 tbsp sesame seeds
- 4 tsp mustard
- 4 tsp coconut cream
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 2 tsp lemon juice
- salt and pepper to taste
- Cook potatoes in a large pot of boiling water for about 20 min (you can already start preparing the mustard coconut dressing and crispy tofu while potatoes are cooking)
- Drain and let potatoes cool to room temperature
- Wash the salad greens and divide them among two large bowls
- Slice the cucumber and add those to the bowls
- Once the potatoes cooled down, add them to the salad bowls
- In a small mixing bowl, combine mustard, coconut cream, lemon juice, salt and pepper and mix until well combined
- Place tofu on a large plate or cutting board and slice lengthwise into 6 pieces
- Turn tofu pieces on their widest side and place a kitchen towel or a few layers of kitchen paper on the slices
- Place a heavy pot on the tofu slices and let the tofu rest for 10 min
- Transfer the pressed tofu to a new plate and first sprinkle cornstarch, then the olive oil and tamarind sauce over the tofu
- Using your hands, toss the tofu carefully so the tofu is evenly coated with the mixture
- Set the frying pan/skillet over medium-high heat and add 3 tbsp of grape seed oil
- Add all tofu slices in a single layer and fry it for a few minutes - wait until the tofu releases from the pan before turning, otherwise its not ready/crispy yet
- When one side is golden-brown, fry the other sides until all sides are crispy and brown
- Transfer to a cooling rack or kitchen paper and let them sit for a short minute
- Divide tofu among the bowls, drizzle 1-2 tbsp of mustard coconut dressing and sprinkle 1-2 tsp sesame seeds over each bowl
- Serve immediately