Deep Fried Tofu
About deep frying
So many people are concerned about too much oil from deep-frying or are afraid to deep-fry.
When the process is done properly, with fresh, good quality oil, not much oil absorbed by whatever it is that you are frying. As for the fear of deep-frying – maybe find someone who knows how to do it to help you the first time you try it.
The keys to deep-frying are:
1. The Pot: deep enough to hold 3 pints of oil, giving you a few inches above the oil for bubbling.
Some people like to use a special electric deep-fryer. I don’t have space in my kitchen for one
nor do I deep-fry enough to make the thought of purchasing one worth while. I’ve been using
a wonderful, heavy pot for years now and I’m quite happy with it.
2. Good Quality Oil – I prefer organic sunflower oil
3. An Oil/Candy Thermometer
4. One or two cooling racks – the kind you use to cool cookies
5. One or two cookie sheets (to put the racks on)
If I’m going through the effort to make deep fried tofu I make plenty extra and freeze it to save for later.
Tofu made this way is still a favorite of my kids, who are all adults now. They grew up eating it and when I make it now I often fry an extra cake or two to have for them as a treat when they are visiting.
Use Fresh Tofu brand, Woodstock Farms tofu or another similar extra firm tofu. It’s very firm and fries well. Unfortunately, although I like these brands well enough for other dishes, Whole Foods brand and Nasoya brand tofu do not fry well. They are too soft. Even the tofu labeled extra firm of these brands is too soft for deep-frying. I have found the brands are constantly changing and creating new types of tofu, so just because, as of the publishing of this blog, Whole Foods and Nasoya tofu didn’t produce one that worked well for frying doesn’t mean they won’t in the future.
Place the tofu in a colander that is sitting in a bowl. Put a plate on top of the tofu and a weight (like a quart jar of something) on top. Let sit for an hour or so or overnight. After the tofu has pressed cut the tofu into 16 pieces. After it’s cut put it on a towel lined tray (I don’t recommend paper towels as they will stick to the tofu) to soak up any excess water.
Heat 3 pints organic sunflower in a heavy gauge pot. Use a thermometer to test the temperature. Wait till the oil heats to 360º. Using tongs, gently put the tofu into the hot oil and fry until golden brown. Turn occasionally so the pieces will fry evenly. Note that the pieces of tofu have a tendency to stick together. Gently separate them as soon as they move towards each other in the pot. Wait too long and you will have an unwieldy mass of lumps of tofu. (There’s a reason I know this!)
When golden brown on all sides use the tongs or an oil skimmer to remove and drain on a cooling rack that is sitting on a cookie sheet.
Simmering the Tofu in Stock
In Thai cooking the tofu is fried to a golden brown color and then served with a sauce.
In some styles of Japanese cooking the fried tofu is simmered in a delicious stock.
My personal favorite is the tofu after it has simmered in this stock.
This stock does two things:
1: it makes the tofu more delicious
2: some of the oil that has been absorbed by the tofu is released into the stock.
While the tofu is frying prepare a delicious stock for the tofu to simmer in.
Use approximately 2 quarts water, 1 cup shoyu or tamari, ¼ cup rice vinegar and ¼ cup rice syrup, agave syrup, coconut syrup or maple syrup. If available add a 2” piece of kombu. Kombu is a sea vegetable, which adds minerals to the stock and brings out the flavor of the food. It also helps make the proteins in the tofu more digestible.
Please note that different brands of ingredients impart different flavors and you may need to adjust the amounts to your liking.
Bring the stock to a simmer. After the tofu has fried and then drained for a few minutes add to the stock and bring back to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for at least 20 minutes. This is one of those things you can cook for a long time if you like (or if you forget about it!). If I have the time I cook it for 40 minutes.
Freeze Extra Fried Tofu
To freeze, pack the tofu with the stock. Make sure to leave room in the container for expansion of the liquids.
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