This recipe for tofu, pak choi and broccoli with vegan XO sauce is the latest in a monthly series of recipes I have created in partnership with Suma.
XO sauce originated in Hong Kong around forty years ago. “XO” is an expression which means something along the lines of “top notch” or “best”. The sauce itself is rich, spicy, umami-packed and dense. The umami element is derived principally from dried seafood, underpinned by a smoky element from smoked ham.
In this sumptuous vegan version, the umami punch is instead supplied by dried mushrooms, seaweed and soy sauce and the smokiness by smoked paprika.
Shaohsing wine is available from Asian stores. If you cannot source it, use Sake instead or omit altogether if you prefer.
Any left over XO sauce will keep in the fridge for at least a couple of weeks. It works well in a range of oriental dishes, such as stir fried rice and noodles dishes.
tofu, pak choi and broccoli with vegan XO sauce
for the sauce
15 g dried shiitake mushrooms, soaked in hot water for 20 minutes
15 g dried dulse seaweed, soaked in hot water for 20 minutes
2 banana shallots, chopped
2 red chillies, chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
3 cm piece ginger, peeled and chopped
25 ml maple syrup
40 ml gluten-free soy sauce
25 ml Shaohsing wine
1½ tsp smoked paprika
½ tsp dried chilli flakes
15 ml toasted sesame oil
15 ml groundnut or sunflower oil
1. Place the dried shiitake and dried seaweed in a bowl and cover with 350 ml of hot water. Leave to soak for 20 minutes. Wrap the block of tofu in several layers of kitchen paper and place between two flat chopping boards or baking trays. Put weights carefully on top and leave for at least thirty minutes. Cook the rice according to the packet instructions.
2. While the tofu is being pressed and the rice is cooking, prepare the XO sauce. Drain the mushrooms and seaweed, squeezing out excess moisture with your hands (the soaking liquid can be kept for making stock, or as the basis of a katsu curry). Chop very finely. Set to one side. Put the red chillies, garlic and ginger into a food processor and blend into a rough paste. Set to one side. Separately, blend the shallots until minced finely.
3. Heat the groundnut or sunflower oil together with the sesame oil in a wok over a high heat. Once the oil begins to shimmer, add the shallots. Stir-fry constantly, to prevent burning, for five minutes, by which time the shallot will be soft and starting to turn a nut brown colour. Add the garlic, chilli and ginger mixture to the wok and stir fry for a further two minutes. Stir in the chopped shiitake and seaweed, followed by the dried chilli flakes, smoked paprika, soy sauce, Shaohsing wine and maple syrup. Stir well then remove from the heat. Spoon the sauce into a bowl or container.
4. Unwrap the tofu from the kitchen paper. Use your hands to tear the tofu into 2-3 cm pieces. Place the cornflour in a bowl, add the torn tofu pieces and toss them gently so that until lightly coated with the flour.
5. Clean the wok. Add 20 ml of groundnut or sunflower and place over a high heat. Once the oil begins to shimmer, add the tofu. Stir fry continually for 3 minutes or until the tofu is starting to colour. Add the tenderstem broccoli, pak choi and spring onions. Stir fry for a further 5 minutes or until the vegetables are tender and starting to catch. Stir in 4 tablespoons of the XO sauce and cook for a further 2 minutes. Serve immediately, accompanied by the cooked jasmine rice.