How to Pep Up Your Dishes with Tofu
Fried tofu recipes are perhaps the most popular dishes involving tofu. When fried, tofu packs in a lot of flavor. What could otherwise be a very bland dish is made better by the sauce that the tofu creates for itself when fried.
Fried tofu recipes have always been popular in Asian countries, where tofu first originated. Like other fried tofu recipes, this recipe is fairly simple but it features an exotic sauce. For this recipe, you will need: 1 pound tofu, 3 cups olive oil for frying, 2 tablespoons soy sauce, 1 sliced scallion, 2 tablespoons minced cilantro, 1 clove minced garlic, ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes, ½ teaspoon vinegar, and ½ teaspoon sugar.
First place the tofu on a plate. And then cover with a second plate and a weight on top so that the tofu can drain. The tofu will need to drain for about fifteen minutes. Next, cut the tofu into three large pieces. Stack them together and then make a diagonal cut in order to form triangles. Make a diagonal cut in the opposite direction, so that the final result is several smaller triangles.
In a separate bowl, mix together garlic, red pepper flakes, cilantro, soy, scallion, and sugar. Whisk these ingredients together and set aside. Eventually, this will serve as a sauce that you can dip your fried tofu in. With a wok or a deep fryer, heat the oil to 360 degrees and fry the tofu slices in batches, until golden brown. Serve the slices along with the dipping sauce.
Some fried tofu recipes call for deep frying. However, another way to fry tofu is to stir-fry it. Stir-fry is becoming more and more popular, and it is even easier than deep frying. Simply cut tofu into chunks, mix with some vegetables, and place in a frying pan with some cooking spray.
Preparing tofu for stir fry
A few varieties of tofu are available in the east, and in America the most common varieties are the soft, silken tofu and the firm pressed tofu. The water content of the silken tofu is higher, and since it is very fragile, it is generally most suitable for soups and salads. It is definitely unsuitable for tofu stir fry, as it will crumble and disintegrate.
The firm tofu is what you need for tofu stir fry, which can be cut into cubes easily. The top of the tofu block has a smooth surface, because its excess water has been extracted by pressing it. In this way the protein content per kg. of the tofu is increased. Sometimes tofu is sold packed in water, and this is the firm tofu that you need for your tofu stir fry. Now you can cut the tofu for stir-frying.
Since tofu does not have any taste of its own, the best way one can eat it is to cut it into very small pieces and toss it along with other ingredients in some spicy noodles. If you want to use large blocks for your tofu stir fry, it is best if the tofu is deep fried. Deep fried tofu absorbs flavors very well and hence works wonderfully in a strong tofu stir fry recipe. Also, if the tofu is deep fried, it can be used in many dishes of tofu stir fry, and then it will have a character of its own and not just have a bland taste.
A homemade Chinese classic
Have you ever had hot and sour soup at a Chinese restaurant? You can prepare it yourself, as it is an easy tofu soup recipe. Veggie hot and sour soup can be prepared using: 1 package medium firm tofu, 8 cups vegetable stock, 1 finely sliced celery stalk, 1 medium carrot, 2 stocks lemon grass, 2 small hot chili peppers, juice of 3 limes, 1 finely chopped fresh red chili, 20 fresh coriander leaves, 3 sliced green onions, salt, and pepper.
Begin by blanching the tofu in hot water. After the tofu cools, slice it thinly into strips. In a separate pot, add the vegetable stock, lemongrass, and chilies. Bring this mixture to a boil on the stove, then reduce the heat and allow it to simmer for about 15 minutes. Strain the contents and return them to the pot, now adding celery and carrots. Once again, bring the mixture to a boil. Add the tofu and the mushrooms. Cook for approximately one minute before adding the lime juice, green onion, chili pepper, and coriander leaves. Sprinkle on the salt and pepper and serve.