What a privilege to introduce you to my newest foodie friend, Alya from Coriander Dreams. I’ve been following her blog for a while now but when she posted Crispy Tofu, I was entranced. Just like many of you, I visit tons of blogs so it is not typical to have a recipe just stay in my memory. If I’m interested in a recipe, I usually have to bookmark it or make a note and then trip across it again six months later and wonder why I never made it. Not the case with this one. I literally couldn’t get it out of my mind. I kept going back again and again and pondering. I thought, surely if I was so enamored by this recipe then surely other Food Stories readers would too so I asked her if we could post this on the FS site. I know, I know … normally guest posts are original content but I just couldn’t stand it … I had to have this recipe! I approached Alya and asked if she were interested in sharing with other FS readers and SHE SAID YES! I know, I know … it’s National Strawberry Parfait Day but you’re getting Crispy Tofu, today … Hope you love it as much as I do!
Innumerable thanks to CJ for inviting me to share a food story of my own with you. I started my blog a few years ago, but only within the past year has it transformed into a solid fixture in my life, much because cooking has as well. That’s what happens when you get married, eh? Oh but I’ve always had a fondness for capers in the kitchen, so getting to cook on a nearly daily basis has been fun if not exhausting on my physical and improvisational abilities. And when you get married to a most-of-the-time-vegetarian, you learn to explore worlds as yet untraveled. So it came to be that I familiarized myself with the way of the tofu (which ironically I like more than the husband), and in the process heard the none-too-distant cries of revulsion from friends around me.
I get it, I really do. It’s the texture above all else; it would throw any person out into an abyss of discomfort. What to make of that flavorless conundrum? Sometimes the silken strands of an Asian soup. Or perhaps overly chewy and stir-fried, a poor replacement for your beloved chicken. And what fool expects you to believe that this strange off-white mass is related to the mastery that is soy sauce. Heresy, I tell you! Unheard of! Yes I know, tofu can be off-putting for the die-hard carnivore. It may even bewilder the more herbivore-inclined. But trust me, I wouldn’t lie to you, not in the matter of food at least. Tofu can also be crisp. Crunchy. Succulent. And dare I say, full of taste!
Just to prove I wouldn’t lie, I’m here to also say that not all tofu is made equal, and certainly not all enjoyed by myself. Look, I can’t manage the silken soft tofu. I just haven’t siphoned up the will to buy it. It scares me a little, with its jiggly fragility. And I’m more than rigidly certain that the husband wouldn’t be able to handle it. Let’s just say he’s a tad on the picky side, but that’s just one of those things you learn through your initial years of marriage, and you even try to work around until eventually you proclaim, “A grown man should not be so picky and if I feel like being adventurous then so be it, thankyouverymuch!” Ah but I digress. Neither of us has taken a liking to super silken tofu. Nevertheless, I love firmer varieties of it, and I have shared a few tofu recipes in my brief time as a blogger. Still, some of my friends persist to resist, so to them I enlist to please cease and desist, else a great opportunity shall be missed! Not only is tofu healthy and nutritious, but it inspires poetic rambling! What could be better!
Despite that, I haven’t yet been able to turn some of them over to the power and potential of tofu but that I believe is because the right recipe has not come along to enchant their trembling tongues. Not to worry though! I found a recipe online that I think could be the one to overcome that hurdle. The husband certainly reveled in every crunchy bite of this Crispy Tofu, admittedly surprising me a little, in a good way. This recipe evolved from one on Lottie + Doof, which I adapted a tiny bit to ramp up the flavor profile. I know my unbelieving friends; they need to taste something powerful to be swayed.
- 1 14-oz. package extra-firm tofu, drained
- Salt, Pepper, and Chili powder (optional)
- 3 tbsp soy sauce
- 1 tbsp rice vinegar
- 1 tsp canola oil
- ½ tsp salt
- 2 tsp Sri Racha
- 1 large egg
- 2 cups panko bread crumbs
- 2-3 teaspoons toasted sesame seeds
- 1 tbsp chili powder
Tofu comes in a big ol’ block, so slice the block in half crosswise. Turn each one on its side and slice 3 times, then rotate back and slice diagonally. Thus you have 16 triangles. Did you follow that? Is geometry not your strong suit? For the confused, I drew up a quick diagram (most assuredly NOT drawn to scale). My sincerest hope is that it does not confuse you more.
Lay the triangles flat on a plate or pan lined with paper towels and press firmly with more paper towels to remove as much water as possible. Repeat once or twice. At this point you may choose to initially season your tofu wedges with the salt/pepper/chili powder if you desire.
In a shallow dish, lightly beat the egg, soy sauce, vinegar, oil, salt and Sri Racha. I recommend adding the egg last, so you can taste the sauce and adjust it as you like before beating a raw egg into it. In another shallow dish put the cornstarch, and in one last dish mix the panko breadcrumbs with the chili powder and toasted sesame seeds. Assembly line commences as thus:
- Lightly coat a tofu wedge with cornstarch, shaking off excess
- Dip into the egg mixture
- Coat in the panko mix, shaking off excess
Do this with every wedge, then heat up a 4-5 tbsp of oil in a nonstick pan on medium-high heat. Fry the tofu on each side until golden brown and crispety-scrumptious. Set on a paper towel to drain excess oil, then serve serve serve!
You can make a simple dipping sauce mixing soy sauce, vinegar, sugar, and hot sauce to your preferred taste. Or serve it along side some chili garlic noodles and sesame sautéed asparagus, for example. Give it a chance, and see if that makes you appreciate tofu a bit.
I can’t speak undeniably that it will change your outlook on tofu, but the idea (and the photos) did convince one of my more hard-headed friends that it was a dish worth trying, provided I come visit and cook it for her. Well that’s something at least. And as I mentioned, the husband (and I) enjoyed the crunch of every single bite, and being able to enjoy food together has been the greatest result of any of my kitchen exploits.
Alya ~ Coriander Dreams