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So long, Suella: A wok(e) tofu recipe

One the most dangerous home secretaries in recent history is out of office, barely a day after blaming "Guardian-reading, tofu-eating wokerati" for all the country's ills.  Celebrating? We have just the recipe for you. 

October 19 2022, 16.35pm

From her determination to criminalise basic forms of protest to her plan to join Putin's Russia in exiting the European Convention on Human Rights, Suella Braverman had the potential to become the most damaging Home Secretary in postwar British history - yes, even more callous and cruel than Theresa May or Priti Patel.

Emails, shmemails, who cares - she's gone. But her revival of national interest in tofu recipes is not to be forgotten. In tribute and in celebration, we're offering you this recipe I modified for vegans from my auntie -  Atching Lillian Borromeo. That's her in the picture in her traditional Filipino kitchen and dining room, by the way. We didn't think you'd want another one of the government. That might put you off your food.


Atching Lillian Borromeo's Tokwa Adobo (vegan version)


  • 450g tokwa (that's what we call tofu). To make it extra firm, freeze a firm block overnight, thaw and then press the liquid out
  • 3-4 tbsp canola oil / sunflower oil
  • One medium bulb garlic, crushed and peeled 
  • One cubed red onion (or white if you like, but that's sweeter and won't give you the colour)
  • Some whole peppercorns (eyeball this, but three or four tiny pinches should do it)
  • Half-a-dozen bay leaves
  • 3 tbsp toyo (brewed soy sauce - this is optional, my aunt makes her adobos "white" without soy sauce and you can use a half tablespoon of salt in a bit of water to taste)
  • 3 tbsp suka (you would call this distilled white vinegar - if you aren't using soy sauce, double this)
  • A cup of vegetable stock
  • 1 tsp dark soy sauce (optional)
  • 1 tbsp something sweet (coconut sugar, palm sugar, maple syrup, brown sugar etc - if you aren't using soy sauce, double or triple this to taste)
  • Optional: 4 medium carrots chopped in cubes, and/or 2 large dense potatoes chopped into cubes (you can adjust the quantities to taste).


  • Press liquid out of the tofu - you can use a tofu press, or you can use two chopping boards and press down hard. Just don't crush it. 
  • Cube the tofu in equal sizes. An inch squared each is good.
  • Heat the sunflower / canola oil in a wok over medium heat until spitting, add cubed tofu and keep moving around with a wooden spoon until it's crispy and browned on the outside. (You can also skip these steps by buying pre-fried cubes at your local oriental store, but I can feel generations of Asian grandmothers pinching my ears by saying that.)
  •  Meanwhile, if you're using the cubed carrots and potatoes, this is the time to parboil them. 
  •  Throw in garlic, onions, and whole peppercorns into the frying pan or wok and cook until tender.
  •  If using carrots or potatoes, throw them in now. Also add another tablespoon or two of oil, and add a tablespoon of soy sauce (if using) and vinegar to the original recipe. 
  •  Add bay leaves, soy sauce, vinegar and broth and simmer to a light boil.
  •  Add the dark soy sauce and whatever you are using to sweeten it and let the tofu, carrots and potatoes soak in the flavours. Add more broth, vinegar, soy sauce, sweetness etc to taste. Keep sipping the liquid. Adobo is supposed to be a bit sour and a bit earthy - some people like it sweeter, others omit the sweet stuff altogether. Family feuds have been fought over the "right" way to make an adobo.
  • When you're sure everything has had a good coating, remove the liquid from the dish and set it aside. 
  • Caramelise the contents of the wok, feel free to give the potatoes and carrots a little "burn".
  • Reintroduce the liquid.
  • Keep the wok / frying pan on low heat for about 15 minutes or long enough for the flavours to soak through into the tofu. The longer you leave it, the tastier it is. The boil should never roll, but bubble lightly. This is apparently some mystical sweet-spot and it will vary depending on your hob. I par cover the wok because I like things "wetter". Some people don't cover it at all to dry it out a bit.
  • Take the adobo off the heat to rest. Remember that you are more than welcome to mess around with the quantities and varieties of things in this recipe. Filipinos usually use meat or pork, but I'm a vegetarian.
  • Serve on rice or on Filipino garlic rice (Sinangag). 

To make garlic rice, you need to use cooked rice (a rice cooker is great, but if not, just make sure it isn't too starchy). The ratios are 2:1:.5 - so two cups of rice needs one tablespoon each of oil and crushed garlic and half a teaspoon of salt. Add oil to a frying pan with garlic and salt then add rice when the garlic is browning. Then take it off the heat when the garlic is browned.

And that's it. Kain tayo! Let's eat! And down with the rest of this useless government.