Sunday, 27 January 2008

WBB: Tofu Scramble and Imposters

Imagine a foreigner coming to Australian shores and telling us how to be Australians. Oh, that’s right! That is what happened when the British invaded back in 1788. That’s what we commemorate on Australia Day which was yesterday!

For Australia Day I made us a special brunch. The night before I roasted vegetables and used some for a pasta meal. I was on track to make Café Flora’s Roasted Vegetable Tofu Scramble. The second part was to press the tofu for an hour in the fridge. This is the sort of instructions I expect from chefs who don’t cook in a home kitchen but some days obedience is the path of least resistance so I did as I was told. You can check out the pic of my tofu with a plate and three 400g tins on it (vegies are in the plastic container on the shelf above).

I can’t remember if I have made scrambled tofu before. I think I have but if I did it wasn’t memorable. So I wasn’t sure what to expect. I assume it originated to compensate for vegans being denied scrambled eggs, or (if you want to take the moral high ground) to show that there are better scrambles than eggs can offer. You might call it an imposter meal of soy posing as eggs.

This one was pretty good but it did need the vegetables to give flavour and light. I chose not to make Café Flora’s recommendation of ‘Fu Sauce’ which was quite Asian-style (tamari, mirin rice vinegar etc) and not something I can face first thing in the morning. I went for a more subtle flavouring more along the lines of Renee’s. I needed a good grinding of pepper over it. I probably could have also done with some soy sauce (so I have added it to the recipe). This might have improved the tofu which was a little on the bland side.

Don’t get me wrong. I love tofu. I can’t cope with it plain in a sandwich (as was once fed to me on a domestic flight with Ansett!) But it is so versatile and adds so much to many meals. In the Book of Tofu, it is said that East Asians call it the ‘meat of the fields’ or the ‘meat without a bone’. The authors also describe it as inexpensive, nutritious and the backbone of the meatless diet. I wouldn’t say it is the backbone of my diet but is one of the cogs that keep it going!

I find the idea of tofu scramble pleasing. I have never eaten scrambled eggs in my life. But being able to eat a scramble for brunch seems a way to feel a little normal. However, how would I know if it tastes anything like scrambled eggs. I asked E – an egg lover – what he thought. ‘I thought it was egg at first,’ he responded. That pleased me. And my reaction? All I can say is that it tasted good, but would egg-lovers really eat this sort of thing without vegies? But I guess for me to claim similarities to scrambled eggs is like Captain Arthur Phillip‘s soldiers telling the Aboriginal people how to live. It just aint my territory.

But that isn’t where my tales of imposters end. Perfect place to have Saturday morning brunch at home is in bed with the weekend newspapers which should land on your bed with a thud that speaks of papers stuffed with news, magazines and supplements. Yesterday was our first day ordering the paper to be delivered on weekends. My excitement turned to dismay as I rushed outside in the morning to pick up The Age, only to find they had sent the Hun. I was determined to eat while reading the newspaper so found some pieces from last weekend that I never got around to reading! Today we didn’t get any paper. So I am hoping next weekend the deliveries will finally yield a newspaper we can read over breakfast.

I am sending this to Rajitha at Hunger Pangs who is hosting Weekend Breakfast Blogging which was started by Nandita. This month the theme is soy and its by-products.

Roasted Vegetable Tofu Scramble
(adapted from Café Flora Cookbook)
Serves 2-3

2 cups of roasted diced vegetables (see Note)
250g firm tofu
2 tbsp chopped sun dried tomato
1-2 tbsp nutritional yeast flakes
Squeeze of lime or lemon juice
Tabasco sauce, to taste
Soy Sauce to taste
Seasoning, to taste
1 tomato, diced (for garnish)
Chives, finely chopped (for garnish)

Place tofu on a plate or bowl and place plate or chopping board on top of tofu. Weigh down with tins of beans or other to weigh up to 3 pounds. Place in fridge for an hour and then drain water off. This seems overwhelming but if I can do it so can you and it will give a drier scramble if you like that. But if you are pressed for time and/or energy, I think it would be fine to skip this step. Alternately, you can do it the night before (according to the recipe).

Crumble tofu with your fingers or a fork. Heat a large non-stick fry pan on medium high. Spray with oil. Place tofu in frypan and only stir frequently for about 5 minutes so it browns. Reduce heat to medium low and add vegetables for about 5 minutes til warm. Add sundried tomatoes, yeast flakes, lime or lemon juice and seasoning and stir for another minute to warm. Serve on top of toast or fried potatoes with tomato and chives sprinkled on top.

NOTE: I roasted vegetables in some olive oil and crushed garlic for about 20 minutes at 220 C. See my roasted vegetable pasta for more information. Suggested vegetables include: zucchini, eggplant, capsicums, pumpkin, squash, broccoli, cauliflower, sweet potato, onion, carrot, beetroot, green beans, turnip, swede, fennel, mushrooms, asparagus. This can be done the day before you make the scramble.

On the stereo:
American Roots: a history of American folk music: Various Artists


  1. hi johanna..first time to your blog and loving it..will be back for more..and btw. thnks for participating..

  2. Brilliant recipe Johanna. We had this for dinner last night, made with roasted pumpkin, eggplant and tomato. I used about double the veg and didn't have any yeast flakes, so just added a bit of extra tamari. I also didn't press the tofu - but I definitely would next time. It didn't really brown, because of the extra moisture. But still delicious.

    I've been getting a bit bored of our tofu meals recently, so it's great to have a new and different option. Thanks again.

  3. thanks Rajitha - glad you enjoy the blog - have enjoyed the challenge of weekend breakfast blogging - I must make more efforts with weekend breakfasts!

    Thanks Kathryn - always happy to add to your tofu repertoire. I found pressing the tofu less onerous than I expected and the tofu did brown so I would recommend you try it if you liked the dish.

  4. I couldn't agree with you more about Australia Day - I don't think the 26th of January is really a date to be celebrated by all Aussies. Over breakfast Michael and I were discussing what anniversary we'd prefer to celebrate our country. I'm hoping that it'll one day commemorate Australia's shift to being a republic!

    As a fellow egg-avoider, I really enjoyed my first foray into tofu scramble. I think that the veges were a big part of the appeal for me too, along with some well-chosen spices and fresh toast. :-)

  5. Thanks Cindy - I thought you might appreciate a tofu scramble - I like your idea of celebrating Australia day on the anniversary of becoming a republic - would make me feel more proud of our country! Or we could even celebrate the day Australia says sorry to Aboriginal people - that will be an interesting one!

  6. Yes indeed, another historic day I'm looking forward to!

  7. Hi Johanna, my vegetarian son is in for a treat when he comes for dinner this coming Wednesday. Ta very much for this recipe.

  8. Hi Johanna, I made your tofu scramble again last night. This time I pressed the tofu and you're right - it's much better this way. My tofu browned beautifully. This time I roasted the vegetables in a Moroccan spice mix and tossed them through. Yet again it was delicious.

  9. Just saw this mentioned on kathryns blog... I have been looking for some tofu based meals lately, so I am adding this one to try as well.. if only that pile would get smaller rather than growing each day!


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