Spicy spinach & tofu

Tofu, a curd made from soy beans, is an extremely healthy food, full of protein, low in calories and easy to digest. On its own tofu is pretty bland, but it has a remarkable ability to absorb the flavours of whatever other ingredients it is cooked with, making it very versatile.

Serve this dish with plain rice or noodles.

Preparation 15 minutes
Cooking 20 minutes


  • 300–400 g (10½–14 oz) block of firm tofu
  • 60 ml (2 fl oz/¼ cup) rice bran oil
  • 1 onion, cut in half and sliced horizontally into half-moons
  • 1 tablespoon crushed garlic
  • 3–4 Indian green chillies, thinly sliced
  • 250 g (9 oz/1 cup) diced tomatoes
  • ½ teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon chilli flakes
  • 1 spring onion (scallion), finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon light soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons tomato sauce, such as the Velvet tomato catsup
  • 250 g (9 oz) baby English spinach leaves
  • 1 teaspoon sichuan peppercorns, crushed


Gently press the block of tofu to remove as much water as possible. Pat dry with paper towel, then cut the tofu into cubes or rectangular pieces.

Heat 1 tablespoon of the rice bran oil in a non-stick frying pan over medium heat. Fry the tofu pieces for 1–1½ minutes, or until lightly browned underneath, then gently turn the pieces over, taking care they don’t break, and lightly brown the other side. Don’t overcook the tofu, or it will become tough. Drain on paper towel and set aside.

In the same pan, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil and cook the onion, garlic and green chilli for about 3 minutes, or until the onion becomes soft. Add the tomatoes, turmeric, cumin and chilli flakes. Season with a pinch of salt and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes.

Stir in 125 ml (4 fl oz/½ cup) water and cook for another few minutes, until the gravy starts to thicken. Add the spring onion, soy sauce, tomato sauce and spinach, mixing well.

Lastly, add the pan-fried tofu and the sichuan pepper and gently coat the tofu with the gravy. Adjust the seasonings and serve.