Like a lot of people I seem to spend an awful lot of my time at work counting down the days until pay day. However, it’s not hi-top trainers or Christopher Kane handbags that are preying on my mind. Nor do I hanker after Margaret Howell frocks while waiting patiently for the 27th of every month. Oh no. Instead I sit there counting off the days until I have enough money to buy more fodder. This month it was the quarterly Oriental food shop. Yes, that’s right – I spent most of May fantasising about kimchi. I sat through endless dreary meetings pretending to listen while wistfully anticipating that halcyon day when I could skip into the Centre Point Food Store in Tottenham Court Road and buy Calpis, pickled turnip, fresh tofu, frozen gyoza, bottles of umeboshi plum wine, instant ramen and dreamy bags of Tohato caramel corn to my hearts content…..I do prefer the Centre Point Food Store to the Japan Centre, for one thing it’s a lot cheaper and it seems a lot less manic. I’m pleased to report that despite the fact that it’s cheaper I still somehow managed to spend a small country’s GDP in there and am now well and truly brassic.
During this particular little blow out I spotted some Green Tea Salt on offer. I was about to add it to my burgeoning basket when I realised just how easily I could make this. I’ve recently invested in some smoked Maldon salt (yes, even the Saino’s in Whitechapel has tapped into its gourmet customer demographic) and have been liberally applying this to pretty much everything from fried eggs to toffee sauce. I also have a matcha habit – I need at least a cup a day and find myself feeling decidedly spun out and shaky if I don’t get my fix.
Matcha is the powdered form of green tea, commonly used in Japanese tea ceremonies. It’s painstakingly produced (it takes about an hour to make an ounce) and the good stuff is ground slowly in a stone mill to avoid tasting burnt. I first came across it when supervising a class of unruly 15 year olds on a school trip to Kyoto. The tea ceremony involved being dressed in a beautiful kimono by a formidable Japanese woman followed by lots of whisking with bamboo, turning of cups to a certain degree before drinking from a particular angle, cocking one’s little finger in a half moon shape and almost fainting from the loss of sensation in my legs after kneeling for hours. I wonder what she would make of the fact that I now basically chuck it in a Thermos mug every morning and fill with hot water (well you know it could be so much worse. At least I don’t use boiling water. Now that really would be criminal).
So this was very easy. Just mix a tablespoon of green tea powder with a couple of teaspoons of smoked salt and erm, there you have it. (If you don’t have green tea powder you can just grind up green tea leaves).
I do love salt and pepper tofu, and decided to make my own version using my new emerald seasoning. This was a champion idea. The crisp salty green chunks were sublime against the sweetness of the ketjap manis. I may be in fiscal dire straits but this was a veritable market mover on the”Chow Jones Index”.
I drained a block of tofu, wrapped in a tea towel and weighed down with some plates while I heated up a couple of inches of rice bran oil in a wok. I then mixed about 3 tablespoons of rice flour with a tablespoon of corn flour and sprinkled in a liberal amount of my smoked green tea salt and lots of freshly ground black pepper. I dipped the cubed tofu into this and deep fried. I then sizzled off some finely sliced garlic, spring onion and red chilli sprinkled over and trickled over lots of ketjap manis. And devoured.