If you’ve been reading my site for any real amount of time, you’ll know quite a lot about me. Perhaps you may realize I kind of, well, detest tofu. I’ve been giving tofu a chance this past year, if only for the reason that tastebuds change and I really do adore tofu skin (inari sushi, for one thing, is near and dear to me). So, why not?
I actually remember this dish my mother used to make when I was a kid, one of the very few ways I’d actually eat tofu. It was fried, crispy on the outside, creamy on the inside, and dipped in a bit of hoisin sauce.
So I decided to replicate it.
Knowing FeistyMom would hardly be able to give me a recipe – she tends to say things like “You just take chicken and chow it with soy sauce and garlic, that’s it” and then I respond, “What about the celery?” and she says “Oh right and the celery” and then I ask “What about the onion?” and she says “Yes, that too,” and eventually, she tells me I already know how to make it and to stop asking her questions.
So I basically winged it. After looking up lots of recipes and various methods for frying tofu – none that even sounded like what my mom used to make – I decided to do the following.
Take a block of extra firm tofu and drain that sucker good. Frying + moisture = disaster. I drained it, patted it dry, then set it on a bunch of paper towels, with more on top, then put a small-ish heavy skillet on it (that was just a bit larger than the tofu, I don’t want to smash it now), put a can of pineapples on top of that, and kept changing out the paper towels as they got soaked.
Cut the tofu into slices approximating my memory of the size. Mine in the picture are a little too thin. So go a little thicker please.
Heat canola oil in a heavy bottomed skillet (a large one this time) until it’s you know, frying temperature (375 I think is ideal, I’m not sure, I didn’t measure with a thermometer, I just “know”). I only used enough canola oil to just coat the bottom, and then a teensy bit more. We’re not deepfrying here.
Dredge tofu slices in cornstarch. Do this immediately before slipping them into the hot oil – I did this before the oil was hot, so let them hang out around the edge of the plate that held the cornstarch, and it clumped up and became kind of ugly and thick in places. Didn’t really affect the taste, but it looks ugly.
Fry them until they’re nice and golden brown, flip, repeat, drain on paper towels and then serve with some hot rice and hoisin sauce. Super easy and surprisingly, super tasty.
A few notes, however: first, I totally cut them too thin. Some of the thinner ones wound up going a little like deep-fried and crispy throughout, no creamy center of which to speak. Boo. Also, I kept the flame on medium-low, since my mother always taught me slow-frying gives you better results – an easy run to golden brown delicious, no frantic OMG it’s about to burn moment! trying to get everything out of the pan and onto a paper towel to blow the hot oil. However, it took forEVER to brown up, which I think added to the thinner pieces becoming a little too crispy for my purposes.
Basically, next time I make this, I am totally going to cut them a little thicker, and crank the heat to medium, medium high, because the inside doesn’t actually need to be cooked that much (which also is why my mom says low and slow fry – I used to, um, deep fry chicken that would look glorious on the outside and be, well, kind of raw on the inside. Admittedly, I still would eat it, and I never got sick from undercooked chicken, but you’re probably not as crazy as me).
Oh, the rice? That’s just regular plain old white rice with salmon furikake sprinkled on top, a little too liberally. I was trying to style the food a bit better for the pictures, and in the end, the tofu was ready, I was hungry, and it was time to EAT.
If you liked fried foods, I highly recommend this light and still somewhat healthy dish.