I have a strong suspicion that weeknight dinners were invented as a form of modern torture. At best, they are made on auto-pilot, a drab affair that usually lacks diversity and variance; at worst, they are a complete failure of the imagination, execution, and appetites. Add to that a household of hungry people, a few food sensitivities and a tight schedule, and you’ve got yourself the perfect recipe for a meltdown.
The solution? Quick, make-ahead meals like this Thai seared tofu in kiwi, ginger and chili sauce with mango kiwi salsa – a bright, flavourful and colourful dish that can be prepped in advance or made in one go, and which satisfies most finicky modern eaters (vegans, caeliacs, diabetics and those with nut sensitivities – rejoice!).
A good friend recently decided to challenge herself to a month of following a gluten-free diet. This is a girl who is bubbly, energetic, active and has a good appetite – and luckily, a fast metabolism. In her assessment, she ate little gluten to begin with, and did not think the month would be much of a challenge. Knowing her, neither did I.
And then her gluten-free month began. A week in, she had severe cravings for just about anything made with wheat – bagels, pizza, bread. Breakfasts were a complete black hole that left her hungry and confused. By the time dinner rolled around, she had no willpower left to think of what to make – nor the desire to go to a restaurant to battle with a menu full of unknowns and forbidden dishes. After accidentally having a sip of a friend’s beer one weekend, she barely woke up the next day despite 12 hours of sleep, and lacked the energy to do much beyond the confines of her couch all day. Needless to say, her cravings for gluten came back in full force.
She told me the biggest problem of this new diet was the lack of variety in her weeknight dinners. Without bread or pasta to use as a crutch, she felt like she was constantly making and eating the same things every night: fish, eggs, salad, potatoes. Twelve days into her diet, none of it inspired or thrilled her anymore, dinner took hours to make every day, and she was always hungry.
Weighed down by her despair, I went home and thought. I looked over my fridge – a collection of disparate fruits, vegetables and smoked fish, with one lone tofu container shrinking in a corner – and thought about what I could offer that would be gluten-free, vegetarian, take little effort AND taste like the brightest, most vibrant dish you could possibly imagine. And less than an hour of work later, I had this Thai seared tofu in kiwi, ginger and chili sauce with mango kiwi salsa.
For this dish, I used some Thai aromatics like ginger, garlic, Thai basil and fresh chilies, and fresh seasonal produce like mango and Zespri SunGold Kiwifruit. Beyond having a gorgeous yellow colour, Zespri SunGold Kiwifruit is incredible easy to eat – just scoop it out using a spoon and go to town. It’s also rich in Vitamin C, E, potassium and fibre – all the good stuff you need to stop your body from thinking about wheat and focus on sunshine and rainbows instead.
To dress the tofu, I made a simple marinade in a blender using green and gold kiwifruit as that’s what I had in the fridge, but you could easily use just SunGold Kiwifruit for a beautiful golden hue and a slightly sweeter result. I then chopped up a rough salsa to scoop on top, grilled the tofu slices, and proceeded to eat nearly the whole thing in one go. I used the leftover kiwi, ginger and chili sauce and mango kiwi salsa on top of salmon the following day, and I’m glad to say it was no less inspired.
The problem? This Thai seared tofu in kiwi, ginger and chili marinade with mango kiwi salsa was so good, I never saved any for my friend. Womp womp.
Zespri SunGold Kiwifruit can be found at your local supermarket from May to October, so keep your eyes out in the months to come!
Full disclosure: I received monetary compensation from Zespri Kiwifruit in exchange for this post. However, I am proud to only work with those companies and brands whose products I truly love. And as always, all opinions expressed here are my own; you can always expect me to be honest with you guys!
- 2 kiwis (1 golden, 1 green or another combo)
- 1-inch knob of ginger
- Juice of 1 lime
- 1-inch piece of Thai chili, minced finely
- 1 sprig Thai basil
- 1 block firm tofu, sliced into ½-inch thick slices
- 1 mango, cubed
- 2 golden kiwis, peeled and cubed
- ¼ red onion, minced
- 1 spring of Thai basil, chopped finely
- 1 lime wedge
- Add all marinade ingredients to blender, and blender until well combined. Taste and season with salt and pepper as desired. Spread tofu steaks in a shallow wide dish, and cover wth sauce. Let marinade for at least 30 mins, though the longer the better.
- Meanwhile, combine all salsa ingredients in a separate bowl, and squeeze out the lime wedge. Let macerate.
- When ready to cook, remove tofu from marinade, and set marinade aside in a little jar. Season tofu with salt.
- Preheat a grill pan to high heat, and season with a bit of oil. Add tofu, and grill on medium-high heat for 2-3 minutes, until clear grill marks appear. Turn over and repeat on other side.
- Immediately serve tofu drizzled generously with marinade and topped with salsa. Decorate with additional chopped basil.