If you live in Brighton, you no doubt will have come across Pompokos and fallen in love at first bite. If you haven’t. Well. I don’t really want to know you if I’m honest. Because then we can’t go together.
For those poorly educated souls reading this who don’t know what/where Pompokos it’s a (very) small Japanese restaurant in Brighton. The food is humble, cheap and fast. No exaggeration here. A main course is less than a fiver and you’ll receive it less than 10 minutes after ordering (I think the fastest I’ve ever received my food is within 3 minutes…as long as they keep doing it I don’t want to know how).
They specialize in huge bowls of sushi rice topped with your choice of meat cooked to your liking, Japanese Katsu curries and various side dishes from gyoza to miso soup and octopus balls (which one of my housemates confirms are actually rather tasty..!) . They also do various yaki-soba-type stir-frys but from a wealth of experience I can confirm that the rice bowls and curries are where it’s at.
My personal tipple when there is either Pumpkin Katsu Curry (bread crumbed and deep fried pumpkin with a Japanese curry sauce) or Tori Chilli Don (Rice topped with fried chicken and onions in a spicy, tangy sauce) with a side of some obligatory chicken gyoza. I can’t lie, whenever my day has the prospect of Pompokos I agonize over the decision between these dishes ALL DAY.
This dish is somewhat of a tribute to Pompokos, and a rather yummy one. As usual I didn’t really have any meat in so opted for a tofu version and made it ridiculously spicy but use your own (probably more sensible) judgment as far as the chili goes and you'll enjoy this.
Serves 2 hungry people.
200g Firm tofu, cubed
3 tbsp corn starch
1/3 cup sweet chili sauce
1/3 cup soy sauce
1/3 cup stock (either chicken or veggie)
4 fat garlic cloves, chopped.
2 tbsp Sesame seeds, toasted.
Chili flakes to your chili preference
½ tsp toasted sesame oil.
1-2 tbsp Sunflower oil.
Large onion, chopped into small wedges.
Handful of Sugar snap peas.
Dust your cubed tofu in the cornstarch and then in a wok heat the sunflower oil.
When hot throw in the tofu and fry, as it starts to turn golden throw in the onion.
As that softens, combine the rest of the ingredients in a bowl to create the sauce and when the tofu is crisp and the onion soft but still with some bite pour in the sauce and the sugar snaps and simmer until it reduces and thickens.
When the sauce has reduced and looks sticky-ish taste to check the seasoning and adjust as necessarily.
Serve with rice or noodles garnished with more sesame seeds.