Savoury Tofu and cucumber cake with braised aubergine

This recipe was inspired by a steamed rice and cucumber cake from the lovely vegetarian Indian cookbook “Prashad” by Kaushy Patel, which managed to be light, with its delicately spiced rice and cucumber flavours, low-fat, yet also filling, with a deliciously sticky texture.  I wanted to adapt this recipe to be higher in protein so decided to add mashed silken tofu.  This gave me the idea to change the Indian seasoning for more Japanese flavours as one of my favourite cucumber dishes I have ever tried was in a tiny sushi bar in Tokyo, where it was served simply sliced with a dash of soy sauce.  I also added braised aubergine on the side to make it a more complete meal. The first time I made this I steamed the cucumber cake, as in the original recipe, but the second time I decided to bake it to give it a bit more variety of texture.   It is also easier to go away and do something else while it is cooking without worrying that the steamer will dry out. I preferred the baked version but feel free to try both methods to see what you prefer.  You can vary the amount of tofu in the cake quite easily so it is a good way to use up left over silken tofu, for example, after making the aubergine tikka masala curry.

Savoury Tofu and cucumber cake

Time: 15 minutes preparation time, 30 minutes cooking time on the night (but very little work needed)

Dietary info: vegan, gluten-free

Serves 4-5

  • 225g-290g silken tofu, mashed (you could try firm tofu but it would probably give a very different texture)
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp chilli flakes
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 50ml water
  • 250g rice flour
  • 100g corn flour
  • 2 cucumbers, grated
  • 4 tbsp soy chilli sauce (see below)

Braised aubergine

  • 1 aubergine, cut into bite sized pieces
  • 2 tbsp soy chilli sauce

 Soy chilli sauce

  • 6 tbsp light soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp rice vinegar
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice (about half a lemon)
  • 1 heaped tsp garlic powder
  • 1 heaped tsp ground ginger
  • 1 heaped tsp mild chilli flakes (or ½ tsp hot chilli flakes)
  1. Combine the garlic powder, ginger and chilli for the chilli soy sauce. Gradually stir in the soy sauce, mixing thoroughly as you add it to avoid lumps. Then stir in the vinegar and lemon juice and heat through (either about 1 minute in a small saucepan or 1 minute in the microwave).
  2. Mix the mashed tofu with 4 tbsp of the chilli soy sauce, garlic powder, ground ginger, chilli flakes, salt and water.
  3. Put the cucumber into a mixing bowl with the seasoned tofu and gradually stir in the two flours until you have a sticky dough. Either bake (step 4) OR steam (step 5).
  4. To bake: Pre-heat the oven to 160C fan. Spread the dough about 5mm thick onto a baking tray (preferably on a non-stick sheet otherwise it is messy to clean up!) and cook in the oven for 20-30 minutes, until the top is crispy and the inside is firm and only a little sticky.
  5. To steam: Spread the dough on a dinner plate and place elevated just off the bottom of a large frying pan with about a cm of water in the pan under the plate. I use two wooden chopsticks in the frying pan to elevate the plate (see picture below). Cover with a well-fitting lid and steam on a gentle heat for 30-40 minutes until the cake is firm and only a little sticky when you cut into it. Check the pan regularly to make sure it is not drying out and add more water if needed.
  6. Put the diced aubergine in a saucepan with 2 tbsp of the soy chilli sauce and cook, covered, over a gentle heat until the aubergine is a soft and silky texture (about 10 minutes). Add a dash of water if it starts drying out.
  7. Serve the tofu and cucumber cake with the aubergine on the side and the remaining soy chilli sauce to drizzle over it.


A few tips to prep ahead:

  • The chilli soy sauce can be made ahead and keeps excellently for several weeks in a sealed box in the fridge. You can even make extra quantities and use it as a dipping sauce for other meals or stir fry sauce.
  • The flours can be measured out ahead of time and kept in a covered bowl at room temperature.
  • The seasoned tofu mixture can be made and kept for about a week in a sealed box in the fridge. This can actually help the flavours to meld together.
  • The cucumber can be grated and kept in a sealable box or bag in the fridge for a day or two. It can help it keep better if you drain off any excess liquid before storing it, in which case you may need to add a splash more water to the dough if it is too stiff to mix easily (though this is unlikely as the cucumber and tofu mixture still both tend to be quite wet).
  • The aubergine can be cooked and kept in a sealed box in the fridge for a few days.
  • All you need to do on the night is mix together the cucumber, tofu mixture and flours, steam or bake the cake and heat through the aubergine and sauce.


Some tasty little twists…

 You can replace the soy chilli sauce with this Teriyaki style sauce. Usually teriyaki sauce is quite high in sugar, but this is a much less sweet version (hence teriyaki style, not true teriyaki sauce). 

Teriyaki style sauce

  • ½ tsp sweetener, such as stevia, or 1 tsp sugar
  • 6 tbsp light soy sauce
  • 3 tbsp sake / Japanese rice spirit
  • 2 tbsp rice vinegar
  1.  Combine all the ingredients and heat through for a minute, in a small saucepan or the microwave.



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