This rice dish calls for firm tofu and creamy spinach. The kombu adds the perfect earthy touch and is a delicious way to incoporate seaweed into your meal.
- 15 g dried kombu
- 250 ml (1 cup) warm water
- 1½ tbsp unsalted butter
- 250 g extra-firm tofu (or paneer or halloumi cheese), cut into 2.5 cm cubes
- 1 bird’s eye chilli
- 1 onion, thinly sliced
- 4 garlic cloves, chopped
- 1 tsp ground ginger
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- 1 tsp ground coriander
- 280 g frozen spinach (see Note)
- ½ tsp fine sea salt, plus more as needed
- ½ cup plain whole-milk yoghurt (not Greek)
- Cooked brown rice, for serving
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
Combine the kombu and water in a medium bowl. Put a small plate or bowl on top of the kombu to keep it submerged; rehydrate the kombu until it expands and softens, about 10 minutes.
Lift the kombu out of the water, letting it drain thoroughly, then transfer it to a cutting board and chop it, reserving the soaking water.
Meanwhile, melt the butter in a large frying pan over medium heat. Add the tofu cubes and cook, turning as needed, until they are browned and crisped, about 5 minutes. Transfer the cubes to a plate.
Stem, seed and mince the chilli, reserving the seeds. Add the chilli (without the seeds) to the remaining butter in the pan, along with the onion, garlic, ground ginger, cumin and coriander, stirring to incorporate. Cook, stirring frequently, until the onion is tender, about 4 - 6 minutes.
Stir in the spinach, the chopped kombu and its soaking water. Cook, stirring, until the kombu is tender, about 3 - 5 minutes, then remove from the heat. Stir in the salt; taste, and add more as needed. If you want the saag to be spicier, stir in some or all of the reserved chilli seeds and cook for another minute or two. Remove from the heat.
Stir in the yoghurt a little at a time, to keep it from curdling. Once it has been well incorporated, return the crisped tofu cubes to the pan. Cover and cook over medium-low heat for 5 minutes or just until everything is warmed through.
Serve warm, with rice.
• If you can find it, use a bag of loose frozen spinach leaves rather than a block of chopped spinach, because you can spill the leaves right into this dish without any prep. If you use the block, you'll need to defrost the spinach and drain it well before adding to the dish.
Recipe adapted from Superfood Seagreens: A Guide to Cooking With Power-Packed Seaweed, by Barton Seaver (Sterling, 2016).
For a deeper look into cooking with seaweed check out, ' The many sides of seagreens'.