No judgments here. I get it, I really do. It’s the texture above all else; ‘twould throw any person out into an abyss of discomfort and confuddlement. What to make of that flavorless conundrum? Sometimes silken, woven strands of an Asian soup. Or perhaps overly chewy, all glossed up 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, tofu can be off-putting for the die-hard carnivore. Shnaps, it may even bewilder the more vegetariably-inclined (allow me my poetic license as I fashion words from mid air!). But trust me, I wouldn’t lie to you. No, not to my most appreciated readers, my comrades of the foodosphere. Tofu can also be crisp. Crunchy. Succulent. And dare I say, full of taste!
And here is my secret just for you, I can’t manage the silken soft tofu. I just haven’t siphoned up the will to buy it (fine, maybe once or twice but for the sake of drama, NEVER!), it scares me a little. Although blending it into other ingredients, say with other beans, potatoes, ohhhh guacam-ofu anyone? Hmm, moving on. Nevertheless, I love tofu generally, and I have shared a few tofu recipes here and there for you. Still, some of my friends persist to resist. To them I enlist to please cease and desist. Else a great opportunity shall be missed. I haven’t yet been able to turn some of them over to the power, the potency, the potential of tofu but I can’t blame them entirely. Conditioning happens in every arena, be it food habits, gender roles, political biases, sports team preferences. It just happens. All we can do is try to stare it in the face and say, “Not today! I won’t be pulled asunder by your tentacular grip of myopic vision!” And looky looky, I found a recipe online that I think might help you start that staredown. This recipe is courtesy of Lottie + Doof, and only mildly adapted by me. Take a gander, fair ones, and become hooked.
- 1 14-oz. package extra-firm tofu, drained
- 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. Lie them flat on a plate or pan lined with paper towel and compress with more paper towel to remove as much water as possible. For the confused, I drew up a quick diagram (most assuredly NOT drawn to scale). My sincerest is hope is that it does not confuse you more.In a shallow dish, lightly beat the egg, soy sauce, vinegar, oil, salt and Sri Racha. In a separate bowl/shallow dish put the cornstarch, and in another dish mix the panko breadcrumbs with the chili powder and sesame seeds. Assembly line commences as thus:
- Lightly coat a tofu wedge with cornstarch, shaking off excess.
- Dip in the egg mixture
- Lastly, coat in the panko mix
Coat every tofu wedge. Then heat up a few 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 sauteed asparagus. Your choice.