A little while ago I was lent a copy of Plenty by Yotam Ottolenghi. I was told by many people that it was their favourite cookery book, filled with superb recipes that I would love cooking. This news filled me with joy and I was salivating at the prospect of some vegetarian Middle-Eastern food inspiration.
I'll be honest, my excitement died down pretty quickly. I don't know what it was but none of the glorious recipes made me want to cook them. Yes the dishes all sounded great. If I'd been offered any of them in a restaurant I would have been more than happy. But, as with so many other cookery books, Plenty would have been destined to loiter, unused, on our book case, if it was ours. Because it was borrowed however, we were determined to find a recipe that we liked the sound of and wanted to cook.
One of the recipes that we'd picked out was for Black Pepper Tofu and, as we had half a block of tofu left over from making Pad Thai, we thought we would give it a go. The recipe was simple enough. Crispy fried tofu was added to fried onions, chillies and garlic. Sweet and light soy sauce were added next along with some sugar and the key ingredient, ground black pepper. A handful of spring onions was all that was needed to finish the dish.
I have never been so glad that I hadn't added more black pepper to a dish in my life. I had reduced the quantities of the pepper and the chilli but the dish was almost unpalatable. The first couple of mouthfuls were great but, unlike the peak and trough heat that you get from chillies, the black pepper was unrelenting. Every mouthful needed to be washed down. It's fair to say we won't be cooking this again, but we still have a couple more recipes from Plenty to try before it is dismissed totally.