FP Escapes: Meet Katja, Chef on our Upcoming Trip to Thailand & Amazing Tofu Recipe

A member of the far-reaching Sailing Collective, seasonal chef Katja Tausig shares a bit about her love of cooking before taking the helm of our Thai chef’s table…

It’s a safe bet that those of you who’ve signed up for — or are even considering — our next FP Escape, most likely have a plan between now and then to do a whole lot of relaxing. London-based chef Katja Tausig is doing the exact opposite. During our entire email conversation, it’s immediately clear that Katja is a woman on many missions. Her latest venture? Preparing to launch London’s Koya City. She was gracious enough to carve out a few minutes of her precious spare time to tell us a bit about herself in preparation for the big trip. Scroll below to find a special tofu dish curated just for us.

 

 

Zodiac sign: Capricorn.

Favorite element: air/water/fire/earth? And why? Fire — building, cooking with and watching a fire all make me very happy. 
 
10 adjectives to describe how food makes you feel: Inspired, connected, fulfilled, inquisitive, curious, warm, creative, meaningful, meditative, happy.
 
Favorite ingredient to cook with, and why? Salt. It enhances and balances every dish. I bring Maldon Sea Salt with me on every trip.
 
Spirit animal? I think I’m a cat. The internet quiz I just took thinks I’m a whale… hopefully not beached.
 
How does food create beauty, both sitting in front of you and once you eat it? There is nothing more beautiful than a home-cooked meal. Not just because of the food, but because it is so easy to see the love that goes into it. Being able to capture that sentiment and provide it in any setting, through genuine passion and the desire to share, is what motivates me.
 
What sparked your interest in becoming a chef? I come from a pretty food obsessed family and, as a youngest child, most of my decisions growing up came from copying my siblings. I studied history of art at university, like one sister, and then went to culinary school like the other. The latter suited me much better, and whilst my sister is a brilliant food writer, I’m finally forging my own path as a chef. 
 
How is cooking on a boat different than in a traditional kitchen? Everything’s moving. 
 
Fave music to listen to whilst cooking: Disco.
 
Number one on-the-go beauty tip: Sun cream!
 
What does the word “free” mean to you? Not letting the fear of what others might think determine how you act.
 

And here’s a recipe specially curated by Katja:

On our upcoming Escape, I will be pulling from my training in Japanese and Italian cooking to develop a holistic menu that uses available local and seasonal Thai produce. This dish takes its inspiration from the Japanese ‘Agedashi Tofu,’ which translates to ‘fried tofu in dashi.’ It is typically served with daikon and spring onions, but for this version I have paired it with a fragrant Thai eggplant salad to cut through the soft tofu and create a refreshingly balanced dish.

Agedashi Tofu with Eggplant

Ingredients

1 medium firm block tofu, cut into 5x7cm block

Frying oil of your choice

Potato starch

For the dashi:

600ml water

50g daikon, peeled and cubed

Bunch coriander stalks

1 dried shitake

One thumb galangal

1 stick lemongrass

(2 tbsp soy,  1 tbsp mirin, 1 tbsp sake to season)

 For the salad:

1 small Thai eggplant

5 mint leaves, torn

5 sprigs cilantro, rough chopped with stalks

5 leaves thai basil, torn

¼ red chili, sliced on the round

¼ spring onion, sliced thinly lengthways

For the salad dressing:

½ lime, juice

1/2 tbsp brown sugar

½ tbsp soy

Juice from eggplant

 

 

Method

First, place all ingredients for dashi in a pan (excluding the seasoning). Bring up to boil, and immediately turn down to simmer for 30 minutes. Strain through a cloth, and add soy, mirin, and sake to season. Reheat dashi, taking it off heat once it has returned to a boil.

Whilst the dashi is cooking, place eggplant over a gas flame on the hob. When the skin turns black, rotate the eggplant on the flame. This will give the eggplant a smokey flavour, whilst steaming the inside of the vegetable. Once eggplant is completely charred on outside, place in a bowl with Saran Wrap on top.

Whilst eggplant continues to steam in the bowl, fill a small saucepan with oil, and heat to 375F. If you don’t have a thermometer you can check the temperature by throwing in some bread, which should turn nice and golden in about 60 seconds. 

Mix salad dressing ingredients together and put aside whilst the sugar dissolves. Once eggplant has cooled, remove and discard skin, chop through flesh, and add to dressing, along with any juice left in the bowl. Mix the rest of salad ingredients together and keep aside, separate from the dressing.

When oil is at the right temperature, dust tofu in some potato starch, and fry until hard on the outside. Drain any excess oil, and place tofu into dashi and boil for 1 minute. The hard potato starch will soften when boiled, creating a gelatinous coating which soaks up the flavours of the Thai broth. Take tofu out of the pan and place in a small bowl with 100ml of dashi. Mix salad with dressing and eggplant, and place on top of the tofu to serve. 

Keep up with Katja via IG.
 
Recipe photos by Julie O’Boyle.
 
 

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