I won't tell you how many recipe books I have. I'll just say that the 181 I have listed on Eat Your Books don't tell the full story.... but the randomiser came up with a nice safe 29. Counting along my shelves, it took me to the Ken Hom classic, Travels With A Hot Wok.
I used the randomiser again to pick a page and it took me to page 176, Beancurd Satays. Great - we love beancurd, we love satay, we had all the ingredients in the house - what could possibly go wrong?
I must confess I was a bit anxious about the texture of the beancurd. I was using a firm one, and the recipe instructed me to drain it pressed between several sheets of kitchen paper, which made it firm up a bit more - but even so, wasn't it going to break up the moment I started to skewer it?
Actually the breaking up started before then, when I was stirring it into the marinade. But I was extra-careful and didn't lose too much, and even managed to get it all on to the sticks without too much damage.
The next step was to make the sauce. I have a super-simple and very tasty recipe of my own, but for the sake of the challenge I followed the version in the book. It was also very easy but came out as a very thick, viscous mixture ..... I won't tell you what Mark said it resembled.....
Now the moment of truth.... cooking the satay. I used a table top grill, to give me plenty control as they cooked, but nevertheless as soon as they started to cook, the disintegration started.....
Eventually we gave up, removed the sticks and gently turned each cube individually
We ate it with fried rice (I'd anticipated disaster so chosen to make the meal-in-one dish of fried rice to make sure we at least had SOMETHING to eat!) and, as suggested in the book, a cucumber and onion salad
The verdict? The beancurd was far more trouble than it was worth. Cubes of fried beancurd with a satay sauce would have been much easier -and a better texture too. As for the sauce - well, if I hadn't been trying to follow the recipe exactly, I could have adjusted the texture, but it was also far too heavy on the raw garlic. I'm really not a fan of eating raw garlic in large quantities. And it simply didn't taste as good as my own version.
So here is my own version of satay sauce. It's served me well for the last 35 years, and I think in future I'll stick with it!
2 heaped tablespoons smooth peanut butter
1 tablepsoon Ketjap Manis (thick, sweet soy sauce - if you can't find this, use Chinese soy sauce and add a teaspoon of black treacle)
½ teaspoon Sambal Oelek or dried crushed red chilli flakes
juice of 1 lime
200 ml water
heat all ingredients together, stirring constantly. As it comes close to boiling, it will appear to curdle, but just keep stirring and after a few seconds of boiling it will come together to form a smooth paste. Set aside to cool. You can make this hotter or milder, to taste, or add brown sugar or treacle to sweeten it, thin it down with more water or thicken it with more peanut butter, or replace the water with coconut milk - it can be different every time you make it. Tamarind juice and - if you can face it- blachan are interesting additions.
I'm joining in with Random Recipes at Belleau Kitchen