I was beyond flattered when I given the daunting challenge of putting my own twist to the famous chef Tal Ronnen’s vegan menu at the Wynn Luxury Resort in Las Vegas.
I started the task with quite a bit of trepidation! This guy is one of the world’s most celebrated chefs, runs the Crossroads restaurant in Los Angeles, and is the author of The Conscious Cook, a New York Times bestselling cookbook. Tal Ronnen is also someone Oprah calls the world’s best vegan chef.
I was also daunted by the fact that I had to choose one dish from the menus of the numerous restaurants at the Wynn, named in the Condé Nast Traveller Gold List as one of the “Top Hotels in the World”.
I chose an organic olive oil seared tofu dish prepared with sundried tomatoes, green onions, ginger and lemon soy from Andrea’s, a Forbes Travel Guide Four Star award winning restaurant. I wanted to put a Somali touch to this dish and the idea of using fenugreek seeds and leaves came to mind. Fenugreek is used as a herb (fresh or dried) and a spice when in seed form. In Somali, we call it hulbad (xulbad). It is used to spice food and also as a herbal medicine to help women who are breast feeding improve their milk flows.
I also decided to substitute the sun dried tomatoes in the original dish with fresh red and gold cherry tomatoes and sautéed them in fenugreek flavoured oil and lime juice. The resulting juices acted as my dressing and was used in lieu of the lemon soy. I also added rocket leaves as I thought their peppery flavour would go well with the other ingredients.
I was delighted with the delicate flavour imparted by the distinctive sweetness of the fenugreek seeds. The fresh tartness of the lime and the slightly caramelised onions, rocket, tomatoes and ginger added a tasty layer of flavour to the tofu. This is definitely a dish that I will cook again.
Tal Ronnen, if you ever happen to read my humble take on your dish I hope you think I did a good interpretation! And to anyone who uses this recipe, I hope you will enjoy the dish as much as I did.
Fenugreek oil seared tofu, spring onions, cherry tomatoes with ginger and lime
6 stalks of green onions, cleaned and sliced
1 teaspoon minced ginger
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 teaspoon fenugreek seeds
2 tablespoons olive oil
100g mixed red and gold Perino tomatoes, cut in halves
Juice of one lime
Salt to taste
1 cup of washed rocket leaves
1 teaspoon fresh or dry fenugreek leaves (optional)
1 lime halved for garnish
Rind of one lime for garnish
- Lightly fry ½ teaspoon of fenugreek seeds in one tablespoon of olive oil for about 30 seconds or until fragrant on medium heat. Quickly scoop out the seeds. You don’t want them cooking any further as they leave a bitter taste if cooked for too long.
- Fry the ginger and garlic for a minute. Add the green onions and cook for a minute. Add the tomatoes and gently mix with the onion to coat through. Add the lime juice, salt and mix gently. Remove the sautéed vegetables from the heat and keep aside.
Cooking the tofu
- Slice the tofu width wise in half so that you have two rectangular steaks
- Microwave for 1 minute. It should be slightly firm to the touch but still moist inside.
- Heat up one tablespoon of olive oil and fry ½ teaspoon of fenugreek seeds. Remove from the pan.
- Sear the tofu for a minute on each side in the fenugreek seeds flavoured oil. The tofu should be a light gold colour when done. Remove from the pan and place on a plate.
- Mix the rocket leaves with fenugreek leaves and arrange on a plate.
- Place the seared tofu on a bed of rocket leaves.
- Place the onions and tomatoes around the tofu.
- Garnish with lime rind and a slice of fresh lime.