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An easy, delicious, pantry-staple dish with fried silken tofu and a quick honey garlic sauce. A great meatless dinner option when we haven’t had time to shop.

Ok so this post is going to be a slightly longer one than usual. But please take the time to read through if you have a few minutes, as you might find some of the information interesting. I’m not going to say much about the ingredients like I usually do, mainly because I want to focus on the honey. I originally thought I would share some info on tofu too, but that would have made this article waaay too long. So I will do a separate post on that soon and in the meantime you can find loads of stuff online about it if necessary. I will mention one important thing though; I have used silken tofu here, not firm tofu which is what most people use for frying. The result is a nice crust on the outside and a creamy inside. The silken type does need some careful handling because it’s delicate, so if you prefer you can use the firm tofu which would be just as tasty but chewier. If you are wondering why I am using tofu in the first place, well, because it’s a fab, nutritious and filling alternative to meat. So consider trying it when you’re planning a meat-free day or meal!

Fried Silken Tofu with Honey Garlic Sauce www.thefoodiecorner.gr Photo description: A block of tofu on a ceramic chopping board, which is in turn sitting on a wooden board. Arranged near these are small bowls with soy sauce, rice, coconut sugar and ginger powder. A jar of honey lies on its side with two ceramic honey wands next to it. To the top of the image are two heads of garlic.

Now, let’s get to the honey. Wow, there’s some dodgy stuff going on in this industry. According to some figures, up to a third of honey being traded worldwide is adulterated or downright fake! A third! It’s one of the most adulterated foods out there. Tests where carried out in 2020 on low cost honeys from all major supermarkets in England and NONE of them where pure! That’s mind-boggling.

The methods used nowadays to adulterate or create imitations of honey are so sophisticated they can fool beekeepers and even laboratory tests. Why is it happening? Ka-ching! Money. And here’s the paradox. Demand for honey is going up, as many people nowadays prefer it to sugar. Thus, the laws of supply and demand (and common sense) would suggest that the price of honey would also be going up. Nope. The price of honey is going down. So far down that it can’t be justified considering the costs of pure honey production. Something’s obviously not quite right.

Fried Silken Tofu with Honey Garlic Sauce www.thefoodiecorner.gr Photo description: A block of tofu on a ceramic chopping board, which is in turn sitting on a wooden board. The block has been cut into squares. Arranged near these are small bowls with soy sauce, rice, coconut sugar, ginger powder and honey. A ceramic honey wand is lying in the bowl of honey. To the top of the image are two heads of garlic.

Let’s see how honey can be faked or messed with:
– Old school adulteration: mixing honey with glucose syrup or even replacing it completely.
– Adding pollen to lower quality honey or syrup so as to change its chemical make-up and/or disguise its origin.
– Transporting lower quality honey through many different countries to hide its true origin.
– Chemically altering the composition of syrup so that it looks like honey and fools lab testing.
– Heating honey for easy manipulation and/or avoidance of crystallisation, then selling it as “raw”.

In Greece people tend to prefer local honey (which is very high quality by the way), so here fraud is mostly centred around “greekifying” foreign honey. This can be done by adding caramel colouring which makes lighter varieties look like the darker Greek ones. Sometimes syrup is also added to bulk it up and bring its price down even further.

Fried Silken Tofu with Honey Garlic Sauce www.thefoodiecorner.gr Photo description: A frying pan with pieces of tofu in a dark garlic honey sauce. Near the handle is a linen napkin.

The problems that are caused by honey adulteration are multifaceted. Of course there is the issue of consumer health since syrup has a different nutrition profile to pure honey. But the bigger issue is how it affects sustainability of beekeeping and honey production. Faking and adulterating honey enables extremely low selling prices. Prices that beekeepers cannot compete with, even more so if they want to use sustainable methods. So many are being pushed out of the market and losing their income, and others are turning to migratory beekeeping as a way to make a living. Migratory beekeeping is when bees are transported to other areas in order to pollinate crops. In the US, for example, hives are shipped thousands of miles across states to pollinate apple, blueberry, almond, watermelon and all sorts of other crops. This, however, exposes the bees to disease, other colonies, exhaustion, malnutrition etc. Combined with the threat of pesticides, bees are truly in danger. And without bees we will lose ecological balance, biodiversity and – basically – a large part of our food, since bees facilitate the production of one third of what we eat!

Fried Silken Tofu with Honey Garlic Sauce www.thefoodiecorner.gr Photo description: Two ceramic bowls with basmati rice and pieces of tofu in a dark garlic honey sauce, garnished with chives. Beside one bowl are some vintage forks and a spoon, beside the other is a bunched up linen tea towel with a jar of honey lying on it.

So where does that leave us? In the same spot that most of these conversations leave us. We need to be mindful of where our food comes from, and how it got to our plates. We need to educate ourselves. We need to be suspicious of very low prices. And we need to make the right choices so we can be part of the solution rather than part of the problem. To the extent that each of us can do so of course.

Fried Silken Tofu with Honey Garlic Sauce www.thefoodiecorner.gr Photo description: A close view of a bowl with rice and honey garlic tofu. To the side is a linen napkin with some vintage cutlery on it.

Having all this in mind, I was very happy to see that Ol-eve, the brand I am working with, is very conscious of these issues. As producers and international traders of honey they have a deep understanding of the industry and they use it to support sustainable practices and educate beekeepers via seminars and workshops. The company is also involved in the “Save Bees and Farmers” initiative. Ol-eve honeys are rigorously tested by internationally accredited laboratories not only for adulteration but also for the presence of antibiotics, pesticides, genetically modified organisms (GMOs), heavy metals etc.

Fried Silken Tofu with Honey Garlic Sauce www.thefoodiecorner.gr Photo description: Two ceramic bowls with rice and honey garlic tofu. One bowl is sitting on a linen tea towel with a vintage spoon and fork next to it.

I wasn’t surprised then, when I tried some of these wonderful honeys and found them to be absolutely delicious. I am really looking forward to sampling more! In this recipe I used pine honey; dark, intense and not overly sweet. The best way of course to enjoy this is to just slather it on a piece of good bread, but I can’t very well say here’s your recipe, bread and honey, can I?! So let’s use it in a gorgeous sauce with garlic, soy and a touch of ginger. Add some fried tofu to it and pair it with some aromatic basmati, and we have ourselves a wonderful meal.

Fried Silken Tofu with Honey Garlic Sauce www.thefoodiecorner.gr Photo description: A ¾ view of two ceramic bowls with rice and honey garlic tofu. The bowls are sitting on a linen tea towel with a vintage spoon and fork in one corner.

Well, that was quite a long blog post. I’m sorry if I went on a bit, but these are topics I think are important and I tried to share the info in a compact and easily digestible way! As I’ve mentioned in a previous post I do want to start more conversations on these issues. What’s your opinion on all this? Are you at all concerned about the origin of our food? I’d love to hear your thoughts, either here or over on Instagram!

For now, I’ll leave you with the recipe for this easy and tasty honey garlic tofu!

Fried Silken Tofu with Honey Garlic Sauce www.thefoodiecorner.gr Photo description: One ceramic bowl with rice and honey garlic tofu sitting on a linen tea towel. To the side of the bowl is a jar of honey lying on its side.

Ingredients

For the sauce

60 ml (1/4 cup) Ol-eve Pine Honey

60 ml (1/4 cup) soy sauce

60 ml (1/4 cup) water

1 Tbs Ol-eve Organic Coconut Sugar, or brown sugar

2 tsp corn flour (corn starch in the US)

1 tsp ginger, powdered

2 Tbs virgin sesame oil (the light coloured type, not toasted. Substitute with other vegetable oil if necessary)

2 large garlic cloves, crushed

For the tofu

350 gr silken tofu, firm (see notes)

1/2 cup corn flour (corn starch in the US)

2-3 Tbs virgin sesame oil (not toasted)

To serve

200 gr basmati rice

chives, chopped (or spring onions)

Step 1

For the sauce
In a bowl whisk the honey, soy sauce, water, coconut sugar, corn flour (corn starch) and ginger, until incorporated. Set aside (we will continue with the sauce later).

Step 2

For the tofu
Cut the tofu box as per the instructions and empty out the water. Very gently slide the block out being careful not to squish it, and lay it on a couple of paper towels. Pat the top side with some more paper gently to dry it a bit. Transfer to a chopping board (gently!) and cut into 16 squares. Spread the corn flour on a plate and lightly “flour” all the tofu pieces, working quickly but carefully.

Step 3

In the meantime, in a frying pan heat the 2 tablespoons of sesame oil (or all 3 if your pan will fit all the tofu) over medium high. Fry the floured tofu pieces on all sides until golden and crispy (about 15 minutes total) turning carefully. Transfer to a plate lined with kitchen paper and set aside.

Step 4

While frying the tofu cook the basmati rice according to package instructions (if you prefer you can do this before starting the tofu and keep it warm).

Step 5

For the sauce
In the same pan heat the 2 tablespoons of sesame oil over medium high, add the garlic and sauté for a few seconds until fragrant. Add the rest of the sauce, stir and bring to a boil. When it starts to thicken take off the heat and add the tofu to the pan, turning the pieces to coat them in the sauce.

Step 6

Serve the tofu with rice and some sauce (it’s very strong so you don’t need a lot). Garnish with chopped chives if desired.

Notes
-Silken tofu has two main varieties - soft silken tofu and firm silken tofu (not to be confused with firm tofu! I know, they could have found other names…). Don’t use the soft type as it’s too creamy, you want to be able to cut it into pieces.

-This post is sponsored by Ol-eve. All opinions are my own.

-Sources for info on honey:
https://www.insider.com/fake-honey-problems-how-it-works-2020-9
https://www.vice.com/en/article/884kq4/your-fancy-honey-might-not-actually-be-honey
https://decernis.com/to-bee-or-not-to-bee/
https://www.olivemagazine.gr/εστιατόρια-bars/ρεπορτάζ-εστιατόρια-bars/έρευνα-νοθεία-στο-μέλι-είστε-σίγουροι/
https://honeyap.org/index.php
https://beekeepersnaturals.com/blogs/blog/migratory-pollination-asking-too-much-of-bees
https://www.worldbeeday.org/en/about/the-importance-of-bees.html

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