This vegan recipe is a real treat, with powerful flavours and filled with fabulous textures. Served as an appetiser or as a main meal, this is an incredibly simple concoction I think should be added to the list of easy gourmet vegetarian recipes (what is "gourmet" anyway? Pretty food with big flavours? Time in the kitchen? Hmmm).
With my Abel and Cole deliveries I receive a weekly newsletter (available online), each containing a few simple recipes. I was grateful for the newsletter that came with my first box because they sent me fennel and, believe it or not, I'd never tried this vegetable before. Anyhow, the newsletter contained a recipe for orange-fennel salsa, which is for the most part what my recipe is based on (I have only adjusted some ingredient uses and quantities).
When people heard I had never consumed fennel (aside from the seeds in little bowls by the door at Indian restaurants), they have been astounded.
"But you love liquorice!" they would say. "How can you not have tried fennel?!"
The truth is, I have been told many times I should try it, but neither my husband nor his kids are keen on it so I figured it wouldn't be worth bringing home. I must remind myself of a couple of things, the first being that what I just mentioned is a very poor excuse for not trying new things myself. The second is that they will try anything once, and I've managed to get all of them to eat foods they would never have considered otherwise (which is not surprising as their general view of eating a vegetable is boiled and served with one of two condiments: salt and/or butter).
There's also a third reason, that being if I'm going to bust my arse in the kitchen then everyone will bloody well eat what I put on their plates. This too is something I think they mostly understand.
But do not worry, for there is hope with this recipe for die-hard fennel haters. If the flavour is too overpowering for you, leave this salsa to sit for a few hours. The flavour will mellow substantially, to the point where the potent aniseseed flavour of the fennel is brought down to a very mild level. On the other hand, if you love this flavour, serve the salsa as fresh as possible.
Crispy Tofu Cutlets With Blood Orange and Fennel Salsa
- First make the salsa, which is pretty straightforward in that all it involves is throwing everything together in a bowl and mixing it up. Just make sure to catch all the yummy juice from the oranges! Got that?
- To make the crispy tofu, heat some oil in a frying pan or skillet. When the oil is hot, coat the tofu in corn flour and fry on both sides until crispy.
- Move relatively quickly at this point, so that you can serve the dish while the tofu is still hot and the coating nice and crispy. Just spoon some of the fennel and orange salsa over the tofu slices and serve garnished with a few pieces of fresh coriander, if desired.