Saturday, October 11, 2014

Crispy Baked Tofu

While I love our standard go-to tofu recipes Orange Tofu and Miso Tofu and the new Lemon-Garlic Tofu, I'm always on the look-out for something new. I had noticed The Kitchn's post on crispy tofu but not paid much attention because I can't be bothered with pan frying. Then, a few weeks ago, I read the comments and realized that it might be possible to skip the pressing and to bake the tofu in the oven. Instead of pressing, the tofu is briefly immersed in hot salted water. As for the baking, the magic is to coat the tofu in potato starch and then bake at 400 degrees. The potato starch puffs up and creates what our family now calls tofu marshmallows. Even though the crispness diminishes with time, we love the chewy, puffy texture in leftovers as well as the first day.

One of the biggest revelations in Andrea Nguyen's Banh Mi Handbook, a super awesome cookbook that I may need to own, was a recipe for Crispy Drunken Chicken Banh Mi. Of course, not only was I not intending to put the results in a sandwich, I also had no plans to deep fry chicken. Instead, I thought the drunken sauce would be fabulous on my tofu marshmallows, as indeed it is. Recipe for the drunken sauce at http://eatseats.blogspot.com/2014/10/drunken-sauce.html.

Other than the drunken sauce, this tofu would be delicious topped with almost any sauce you can think of.

You can either just coat the tofu in some potato starch or you can make a slurry of potato starch, rice wine and soy sauce. I tried both methods and the tofu puffed equally. I have now found that I prefer to use Eden mirin instead of rice wine for the slurry, as it gives a more balanced flavor to the tofu. I still use rice wine in the drunken sauce, however.

INGREDIENTS
2 14-16 oz blocks of extra firm or super firm tofu
3 TBSP potato starch
1 tsp soy sauce (if using a wet slurry)
2 TBSP rice wine such as Shaoxing or mirin (if using a wet slurry)
1 TBSP oil (if using a wet slurry)

DIRECTIONS
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees and prepare 2 baking trays with Silpat or parchment
  2. Cut the tofu into approximately 1 inch cubes
  3. If using the slurry method, mix the potato starch, soy sauce, rice wine and oil in a bowl big enough to fit all of the tofu cubes
  4. Fill a medium saucepan 2/3 of the way full with water (about 2 quarts) and bring to a boil. Turn off heat and add 2 tsp salt
  5. Slide the tofu cubes into the hot salted water and let sit 30 seconds. Remove with a slotted spoon into a large bowl
  6. If using just potato starch, pat dry the tofu cubes and then, using a sieve, sift the 3 TBSP of potato starch over the tofu and stir to coat evenly
  7. If using slurry, pour the tofu cubes into the bowl of slurry mixture and gently stir to coat--the hot water bath will help the tofu not to disintegrate too much
  8. Put the tofu cubes on the two baking trays and bake for 20-25 minutes. I don't bother to flip the tofu at all
  9. Tofu is done when it is well puffed and golden brown. Serve with drunken sauce or the sauce of your choice

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