I don’t consider myself an adept at the SouthEast Asian kitchen, but I do love its flavors. Every once in a while I try something myself and this improvised dish came out particularly well! I started with kohlrabi (koolrabi in Dutch), a kind of ‘forgotten’ vegetable I really love – it’s like cabbage, but sweeter and crunchy. By chance, I found myself at the Wednesday bio market at Sint-Katelijneplein in Brussels (a true foodie experience!) and while I was munching down a fish burger from the seafood store as lunch, I spotted kohlrabi at one of the vegetable stalls and couldn’t resist buying some. This neigborhood also harbors a mushroom-specialty store which I’d been dying to check out and several Asian supermarkets – et voila, my dinner was born. I even managed to sneak in tofu without complaints, adapting from a marinated tofu recipe I once made. It’s important to marinate the tofu for at least an hour, because tofu itself is a little tasteless. Also important is to use a wok that can get really hot (mine is from IKEA) on your largest fire pit.
Ingredients for 4-5 people
300 grams of firm tofu
3 pieces of kohlrabi, peeled and chopped into thin match-size slices
300 grams of shiitake mushrooms (or Parisian brown mushrooms, if you can’t find shiitake)
250 grams of thin noodles
1 onion, chopped
3 cm of ginger, finely chopped
1 large tablespoon of sesame seeds
for the tofu marinade:
2 tablespoons of liquid honey
2 tablespoons of ketjap manis
3 tablespoons of (dark) soy sauce
1 small chili pepper, finely chopped
2 tablespoons of sesame oil
2 tablespoons of sweet and sour chili sauce
Mix all the ingredients for the marinade. Cut the tofu into 2cm cubes, put them in a bowl or box and cover with the marinade, carefully spoon the marinade through the tofu. Cover with a lid or plastic foil and let it soak for at least an hour. Scoop the liquid marinade from the bottom over the top of the tofu a few times.
Boil water in a saucepan and cook the noodles as instructed. Drain and set aside.
Drain the tofu in a colander above a bowl, keep the marinade. Cut the larger shiitake in half. Heat a wok on a high fire and add a swig of sesame oil, let it get really hot, until it’s smoking. Add the mushrooms and stir-fry for five minutes, until the small mushrooms are starting to shrink. Season to taste with sea salt and freshly ground pepper. Empty the wok into a bowl and set aside.
Heat the wok up again, add some sesame oil and bake the tofu. Stir-fry carefully or shake the wok every now and then to let them brown evenly. When the sides are turning crispy and golden brown, remove the tofu from the wok and let it drain on paper towels.
Heat up the wok again with sesame oil and add the onion and ginger. Stir-fry until soft and add the chopped kohlrabi. Stir-fry the kohlrabi until it becomes a little more tender – don’t let it become too soft, it should still be crunchy. Add a little of the marinade to the vegetables and keep on stir-frying. Season to taste with sea salt and freshly ground pepper. When the kohlrabi is al dente, add the noodles, stir-fry a little and then add the tofu, shiitake mushrooms and the rest of the leftover marinade. Mix everything until the marinade is soaked up and the entire dish is hot and sprinkle with sesame seeds. Taste and season with pepper and salt if necessary. Enjoy!