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Steamed veg & tofu with sesame black bean sauce

24 Feb

This recipe is the result of a glorious sojourn to London’s Chinatown. Man Woman realised we had not been for years, despite constant complaints about the lack of east Asian produce anywhere in London. Anywhere except, you know, in the smackbang centre of it.

So we spent our Sunday afternoon gleefully wallowing in the New Loon Moon Supermarket, picking up ingredients from the eastern Orient, getting jostled by other more regular customers who clearly did not share our White People’s Joy at shopping at an ethnic supermarket.

Thus armed with a bamboo steamer and black bean sauce for the first time in nearly 5 years, Man Woman made this super quick mid-week (we can dream on a Monday) meal. Those Chinese. First they invent golf and then they invent (I’m sure) black bean sauce. Top stuff, China. Nice work.

A note about tofu here. Don’t use the Cauldron brand or other such. If it’s covered in cardboard, if the packaging does not allow you to see the tofu, as a general rule, don’t buy it. It’s probably inexplicably dry and chewy. This recipe needs good quality, fresh tofu – but it’s still dirt cheap. A 600g packet of tofu – enough for 2 very tofu-heavy dinners for 2 – cost about £1.60. Man Woman may dedicate a post to this in future, but green grocers, Asian supermarkets and health food shops should stock fresh tofu, which should be in a tray with a clear plastic cover and partially covered in water. Also, the Mori-Nu UHT-style tofu, sold in Sainsbury’s Clapham for £1, is perfectly good and fresh. At all costs, avoid Cauldron. God knows what they do to the beans.

Sesame black bean sauce

  • 1 TBSP vegetable oil
  • 1 TBSP sesame seeds
  • 3 TBSP black bean sauce
  • 2 TBSP lemon juice
  • 2 TBSP water
  • 1 large clove crushed garlic


  • 2 bunches spinach
  • 300g fresh tofu, cut into chunky cubes
  • Bunch of enoki mushrooms

Corn noodles

Get water boiling in a pot underneath your steamer thingie. Throw in cubed tofu (we found no need to drain the tofu) and enoki mushrooms.

Meanwhile, in a small pan, heat vegetable oil. When hot – but not crazy hot – add sesame seeds. When they start to colour add blackbean sauce, lemon juice, water and garlic. Stir and adjust proportions to taste.

After about 5 minutes of steaming, and checking that the water is boiling, lift the steam levels and throw in your noodles. At this time also add the spinach (or whatever greens you fancy) to the steamer.

Keep sauce simmering in the pan.

Cook for about 5 minutes. Serve noodles and veg with sauce drizzled over.

Estimated cost: £2.60

Musical accompaniment: Seasick Steve

A happy steamer spinach monster!


The biggest burrito mix ever made in North London

8 Dec

This recipe says a lot about Man Woman. It speaks of our interest in feeding the world. In having cocktail parties and requiring people to dress up in odd themes (Frida Kahlo this time). But mostly, it speaks of our kitchenaliaphilia. This is how I have come to term our undying and shameful interest in the kitchen departments of the world. We cannot visit a city without ducking into department stores or giggling with unabashed excitement if we happen across a catering shop. When backpacking around Europe for 7 months in 2006, we did so with two types of coffee maker picked up in Bosnia and Portugal and stock from Croatia. We’re so infintely lame.

So, naturally, on our last trip to Madrid last year we bought a gigantic paella pan from El Rastro market. We’d never put it to good use. So we invited 20-odd of our nearest and dearest ’round to finally put it through its paces. Added to this was 60 white corn tortilla breads we picked up from a far more painful trip to Casa Mexico in Bethnal Green in the freezing cold, and we managed to feed the freezing and festive quite sufficiently.

Mexican bean mix (Serves 20 – 30)

  • 2 – 2.5kg kidney, cannelli and black-eyed beans (cooked weight)
  • 5 tins of whole tomatoes
  • 1 C corn
  • 1.5 medium onions, chopped
  • 6 cloves of garlic
  • 4 TBSP ground cumin
  • 1 dried chipotle chili, soaked in hot water for 10 minutes
  • 2 tsp paprika
  • 2 TBSP cayenne pepper
  • lots of lemon juice
  • coriander to serve

This is massive. Do simply what you have to  do.

Estimated cost: Around £30 including cheese, shredded lettuce, grated carrot and guacamole

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27 Jul

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