I feel quite vaguely optimistic about this new year. Okay, so I've had to work mostly through the Christmas and New Year, with no signs of things easing up for another few weeks. Incessant overtime does not suit my indolent nature. And Simon has just gone off on a nearly-7-week holiday without me. Sad!
But these are first world problems, really. Particularly when, lately, I've come to realise that I'm actually quite content, most of the time. I don't have everything that I want... and yet I have so much.
So often, bliss can be found in simple things.
Like colleagues whose company you relish, even though you sometimes yearn for a career change.
Like having money in the bank, even when you don't earn much.
Like having a roof over your head.
Like being with people who feel like home.
Like a warm meal when you're hungry.
Like the sharp bouquet of kaffir lime leaves, and the biting heat of little chillies...
Like thick, sticky, sour tamarind concentrate...
Like sharing this spicy-tangy chilli kaffir tamarind tofu dish with Simon on New Year's Eve.
I like it. He likes it. I like that he likes it.
It may not have the prettiest appearance, but the flavour hits you, and it hits you good. Can you handle it?
|chilli kaffir tamarind tofu.|
I couldn't resist reaching for the fish sauce with this one. However, you can easily make it vegetarian and vegan-friendly by substituting with soy sauce plus an extra pinch of sugar. Either way, the flavours will be big, bold, bodacious. Enjoy.
chilli, kaffir lime leaf, & tamarind tofu
2 small spicy red chillies
4 separated/single or 2 twin/double kaffir lime leaves
1 teaspoon tamarind concentrate
1 tablespoon fish sauce or soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon raw sugar or crushed palm sugar
250g firm or semi-firm tofu, cut into cubes
1 tablespoon oil, or just enough for frying
Slice chilli into thin rings.
Slice kaffir lime leaves into thin strips, discarding the tough middle stem.
Mix tamarind concentrate, fish sauce and sugar in a bowl. Throw in most of the chillies and kaffir lime leaves, setting aside a pinch of each for garnishing later, if you like. Mix well to form a marinade. If you're not into super sour flavours, taste as you add in the tamarind concentrate to reach your preferred balance.
Time for the tofu to join the party. Cut the tofu into 2.5cm/1" cubes and tumble them merrily through the marinade. Leave it for 15 minutes.
Heat up some oil in a frying pan over medium high heat to cook the tofu cubes. To really sear them, add the tofu cubes while reserving most of the marinade intact in the mixing bowl. Stand back - the tofu might sizzle and spit. Once they develop a nice dark crust on their bottoms, pour in the marinade and let everything cook over medium heat, stirring and turning occasionally, until the sauce is reduced and clings lazily to the tofu.
Garnish with any leftover fresh chilli and kaffir lime leaves, and serve immediately. Pair it with rice and salad for a full meal.