“We’re all going on our summer holiday, no more working for a week or two.”

Ah, read that first paragraph and imagine listening to the dulcet tones of the great Sir Cliff Richard.

Granted, we may just have lost half our readership with that reference (Cliff who we hear the millennials say?) but there’s a method to this particular madness this week.

Why? Because January is traditionally the month when our thoughts turn to holidays. If Christmas is the most wonderful time of the year, then January is certainly the most miserable. ‘Normally’ it’s because we are all still suffering from the festive hangover, it’s cold, dark and spring still seems far away. The throw in the ongoing global pandemic and, well, you literally have the perfect storm.

This time last year, many of us will have been browsing the internet (or do some of you still like reading holiday brochures?) looking for the summer sun getaway, anything to make January more palatable.

We know there are 31 days in January but it always feels like 131!

And then, Covid-19 struck. And then Lockdown 1.0 happened. And foreign holidays 2020 were, in most cases, cancelled.

The lifting of restrictions in summer 2020 meant we could still travel again but with quarantine, face mask wearing, booking slots by the pool etc, it didn’t seem like a foreign holiday would be quite relaxing.

Whilst this resulted in a surge in staycations and a welcome boost to the UK economy, it wasn’t quite the same.

Ok, the great British weather behaved itself (give or take), but it will never mirror that experience of being abroad in summer where the sun is pretty much guaranteed every day; it stays warmer longer and, well, it just feels different.

And then there is the food. Finally they have got to the whole point of this blog we hear our lovely readers say.

One of the many reasons we choose to travel to exotic places, or Benidorm in some cases, is the food. Whether it’s Tapas in Spain, Mezze in Greece or Antipasti in Sicily, there’s nothing better than sitting down to a meal in the evening with the sun on your back and a cold glass of white wine on the table.

Hopefully, 2021 will be the year we can travel again. We may not be making that booking in January, but with vaccinations now being rolled out, by spring we may feel much more confident about pressing the button, whether it’s short haul or long haul, or just staying in the UK, either way if and when you do, make sure you eat until your hearts content.

We know we will be!

And to get you in the mood, here’s a lovely vegan dish you may see on restaurant menus if you travelling to the Far East this summer.

Crispy marinated tofu bao buns with spicy gochujang sauce

Bao buns:

  • 600g strong bread flour
  • 60g vegan butter
  • 14g fact acting dried yeast
  • 50g caster sugar
  • 1 pinch of baking powder
  • 7g salt
  • 300g warm water

First in a small bowl mix together the yeast and the warm water to allow the yeast to bloom for 5 minutes. Then in a kitchen mixer with dough hook attached add the flour, baking powder, salt, sugar and vegan butter then add the yeast water and mix on a medium-slow speed for about 10 minutes till the dough is smooth and elastic. Cover with a damp kitchen cloth and allow to prove somewhere warm.

Once the dough has proven tip out onto floured work bench roll out to about a cm thick then using a plain cookie cutter 8.5cm in diameter cut out disk of the dough. Then using the handle of wooden spoon slightly oiled fold the disk of dough in half around the handle then pinch the ends and slide the handle out this will give you a clam shell shape once the bun is cooked.

Repeat the process until you have used all your dough, place these buns in your steaming basket allowing enough room in the basket for the buns to grow in size when proved and cooked. Allow to prove again for 15 to 20 minutes before steaming for 12 minutes. They should be white and fluffy when cooked

Spicy gochujang sauce:

  • 170g light soy sauce
  • 21g garlic minced
  • 15g grated ginger
  • 60g ketchup
  • 60g gochujang paste (available in most Asian supermarket)
  • 60g brown sugar
  • 200g caster sugar
  • 40g rice wine vinegar
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 60g tomato paste
  • 20g sesame seeds

Place all the ingredients into a pan and bring to the boil then turn down and simmer till the sauce is reduced and thickened with a smooth glossy finish. Put to one side and allow to cool.

Crispy marinated tofu:

  • 1 pack of firm tofu drained and diced into 2cm squares
  • 10g minced garlic
  • 10g finely grated ginger
  • 10g light soy sauce
  • 5g caster sugar
  • 100g plain flour (plus extra for coating)
  • 190g water
  • 200g panko breadcrumbs

In a bowl add the garlic, soy sauce and the sugar mix together and gently cover the tofu and allow to marinade for 1 hour. When the tofu is marinated make the flour batter by whisking together the 100g of flour and the water. Toss the marinated tofu in the in the extra plain flour shaking off any excess then into the batter followed by the breadcrumbs. Allow to rest for 5 minutes before deep frying at 180oc for 4 minutes or until the tofu is golden brown and crispy. Drain in kitchen paper and keep warm.

To serve:

  • Sliced radishes
  • Sliced spring onions
  • Sliced cucumber
  • Shredded baby gem
  • Mayonnaise

Build your buns by packing it full of the crispy tofu, shredded salad and the sticky gochujang sauce.

Chris Brown
About Chris Brown
Sous Chef of SK Foods.
Your food. Our Passion.