Healthy Chinese-style stir-fry with crispy tofu, broccoli and homemade hoisin sauce. Served with Chinese chives and rice noodles. Vegan and almost fat-free!

Oil-free Hoisin Sauce Stir-fry

I don’t particularly endeavor to keep my recipes low-fat or oil-free (as there’s really no need), but I do prefer to get my fat from healthy sources: nuts, seeds, avocado etc. Give me a jar of tahini and i’ll go in with a spoon, give a me a raw salad and I’ll apply olive oil liberally, but cooked vegetable oil really doesn’t contribute any amount of nutritious benefit for our bodies so is best minimised where possible. Chinese stir-fries (or at least the British imitations that are served here) are often characterised by their greasiness (and disconcerting gloopy-ness), so it seemed like a good opportunity for a few healthy tweaks. I often get the impression that most takeaway meals have started off with a pint or two of vegetable oil in the pan, or at least an amount that no-one would dream of using in their own home so I’ve done the opposite with this dish. This recipe doesn’t fry anything in oil, but rather the sauce ingredients get mixed in a bowl and then thickened in a wok, cooking the broccoli at the same time. I’ve also mastered a technique of crispy tofu without deep-frying so that’s exciting.

The sauce is hopefully reminiscent of Chinese hoisin sauce, except that it doesn’t come of a jar or contain e-numbers. If you don’t have plum vinegar, use rice vinegar and if you don’t have Chinese chives, use spring onions or coriander. There isn’t a substitute for miso here, they sell it in the supermarkets so add it your list! Once you stock up on these condiments- soy, vinegar, miso- you are prepared for future speedy rice and noodle dinners as they offer a really big flavour punch with minimal effort. In other words, I think it’s well worth the investment if your store-cupboard is lacking in these things. Serve with rice or noodles (I’ve chosen noodles) or on its own, whatever you want.

Oil-free Hoisin Sauce Stir-fry
Serves 2
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  1. 300g firm tofu
  2. 2 tbsp plain flour
  3. 2 tbsp semolina
  4. 1/8 tsp salt
  5. 75g rice noodles
  6. 2 tsp corn flour
  7. 120ml hot water
  8. 2 large garlic cloves, crushed
  9. 2 tsp chilli flakes
  10. 1 tbsp miso paste
  11. 1.5 tbsp soy sauce
  12. 1 tbsp agave
  13. 1 tbsp plum vinegar
  14. 1/4 tsp Chinese 5-spice powder
  15. 150g broccoli, cut in to small pieces
  16. 20g Chinese chives (optional), finely chopped
  1. Cut the tofu in to 1 cm squares
  2. Mix the flour, semolina and salt in a large mixing bowl and toss the tofu in it, so that all sides of the cubes are covered. The wetness of the tofu will help the coating stick.
  3. Place the tofu on a foil sheet and place under the grill. Grill the tofu cubes on a high-heat for about 15 minutes so that the inside firms up a bit and the outside crisps up. Keep checking as it's cooking as all oven grills work differently; turn down the heat if it's too hot and turn up if it's not crisping up.
  4. Cook the noodles according to packet instructions. I used thin rice noodles which just have to be soaked (rather than boiled) in boiling hot water for about 10 minutes, and then drained.
  5. Mix the corn flour in a couple of tbsp of the hot water separately and then mix all of the sauce ingredients (garlic through to 5-spice), including the corn flour and all of the water and whisk to combine.
  6. Place the sauce in a wok with the broccoli pieces and bring to a boil. When bubbling, place a lid over the pan and turn the heat to low-medium. Cook, simmering, for about 5 minutes, until the broccoli is just tender.
  7. Add in the cooked tofu and mix. Serve over the rice noodles, and sprinkle with the Chinese chives.


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