Tag Archives: Recipes

Yan Kit So Memorial Award for Asian Cookery Writers

During my month long hiatus from The Jade Cave involving a couple of rushed house moves, I am thrilled to announce that I was awarded Asia House’s Yan Kit So Memorial Award for budding Asian Food writers.

The award is a generous travel grant that will get me to Vietnam this Autumn, where I’ll continue my work on this blog, researching Vegetarian Vietnamese recipes, gathering enough material to develop a cook-book proposal when I’m back in the UK! The award was judged by an array of intimidatingly Michelin starred chefs specialising in Asian cooking. Thanks to the generous support at the Asia House team I’ve already had the chance to speak to one of them, Fuchsia Dunlop, who’s kind of The Queen of Sichuan and Sichuanese cooking.

Fuchsia’s basic advice to me was that the beauty of a cookbook is that it can be as weird as you like – it’s not a particularly rigid genre – as long as your research is thorough and your recipes excellent. And so just how Fuchsia discusses Maoist history in her books, I hope to write about Buddhist Vegetarian cookery, with winning food quotes from Vietnamese literature, as well as plenty of region-by region delicious vegetarian recipes.

In May I’ll be attending Atul Kochhar’s ‘Curries Of The World‘ demonstration at Asia House, which should give me a good idea of what to expect when I come to present my own findings there next year. And I’m also going to be working with Grub Club, helping other Asian cooks and hopefully leading to hosting my first public event. So watch this space…


Caramelized Tofu With Cabbage

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The tofu simmers, soaking up the ginger, chilli and lemongrass soy caramel. The cripsy shards of white cabbage slowly soften up and pick up a glaze.

This is a veggie variation on my auntie’s recipe for Thit Kho, or Vietnamese caramelised Pork. It’s a work in progress, and so expect newer versions. The pork recipe uses hard boiled eggs that also work deliciously with tofu, although tofu on its own works very well and is a bit lighter.

Recipe (serves 2):

1 stalk of lemongrass
1 inch piece of ginger
1 red thai bird chilli
Half a medium sized yellow onion
1 clove of ginger.
1 tablespoon light soy sauce
1 tablespoon dark soy sauce
6 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon sugar
200g tofu, cubed in 1 inch pieces
100g cabbage – choux chinois is the best variety
Peanut oil
Chopped roasted peanuts
10 Thai Basil leaves (or mint)
1 tbsp Crispy fried shallots (optional)

Slice the onion into semicircle pieces and dice the garlic. Fry these in the peanut oil for about 3 minutes on a low medium heat. Chop the chill, lemongrass and ginger very finely, add to the wok and fry for another 2 minutes. Make sure none of the herbs go brown. Remove from the wok and set aside.

Heat the sugar in the wok on a medium high head until it starts to melt, then add 2 tbsps water. When the sugar mixture starts to go brown and caramelised, turn heat down to medium and add the rest of the water, fried herb mixture, tofu, soy sauce and pepper. Simmer for up to 10 minutes, adding water if the mixture starts to dry out.

Add the cabbage and another 2 tablespoons of water, and simmer for about 4 minutes until cabbage is tender.

Serve with freshly cooked jasmine rice, and sprinkle the peanuts, basil and shallots on each bowl.