How to Cook Crispy Tofu Worth Eating

bean curd is my front-runner food, which makes me an outlier. People do n’t like bean curd. And I get it. There ‘s a lot of badly bean curd out there, and it ‘s easy to dislike when it ‘s boggy, mushy, or bland. But great tofu—tofu with a tender center surrounded by a well-seasoned, crisp crust—is one of the most comforting bites of food I can think of, a food that can and should be appreciated by all serious eaters, no topic their diet .

here ‘s how to cook tofu indeed good even tofu-haters might come around. First we ‘re going to talk about how to shop for bean curd, then we ‘ll talk about how to crisp up plain slices of bean curd, and last we ‘ll figure out the best direction to prepare bean curd for stir-frying .

The Secret to Delicious Crispy Tofu : Dry Is effective

The goal when frying tofu—whether pan-fry or deep frying—is the lapp as the goal when frying kernel or vegetables : to alter the texture and relish. In the case of bean curd, we ‘re talking about adding some brittleness to an otherwise tender food, and adding some rich brown, which brings out bean curd ‘s natural pleasantness and brings some savory notes to the forefront .

Crispness comes from the dehydration of the outside layer of proteins in your bean curd slices, while browning occurs when those proteins and carbohydrates are exposed to temperatures above around 300°F or indeed, precipitating the Maillard reaction ( that ‘s good the fondness bible for “ things that make your food fortunate and delightful ” ) .

Some things are not good dry. Cake. Pools. sex. But bean curd is different. The key to both crispness and brown is the removal of moisture, so the dry you get your bean curd to begin with, the more efficiently these reactions will take target, and the better the contrast between wrinkle outside and damp, tender interior will be .

How to Shop for Tofu for Frying

There are a number of ways to dry your tofu out before cooking it, but the easiest first step is to get the right tofu to begin with. Tofu comes in two basic forms : satiny and cottony, which are made using two different coagulating agents. Within these two categories, you ‘ll find varying degrees of resoluteness from custardy delicate to very firm and meaty, depending on their final water content. Some brands conflate soft with satiny, but traditionally, the two are extraneous measures ( that is, it is possible to have voiced cottony bean curd barely as it ‘s potential to have firm silken bean curd ) .

For crisping purposes, you want to use cottony ( non-silken ), extra-firm bean curd, which holds its shape and browns better than other varieties .

The Best way to Dry Tofu, Tested

Slicing a block of cottony, firm tofu.
After choosing the right field kind, the irregular step is to slice and dry your bean curd. Some recipes recommend pressing your hale auction block of bean curd to remove overindulgence moisture before slicing. This works very well, but takes some time. much easier is to slice the bean curd, then lay the slices out flat on a cutting board or baking sheet lined with composition towels or a clean kitchen towel, then pressing more towels on top. More surface area = faster water removal = dinner on the table that much faster .

I ‘ve besides seen it suggested to employ the microwave in the help of draining bean curd : the hypothesis is a few seconds on senior high school power will cause the protein structure to tighten up slenderly, squeezing out excess moisture. It works, but it ‘s honestly a annoyance in the target to microwave bean curd in batches. An evenly effective but much faster and easier method acting is to do what tofu goddess Andrea Nguyen suggests : pretreat the tofu by pouring hot salted water over it.

Pouring boiling water on tofu slices to dry them out.
It may seem counterintuitive to add water to something you ‘re trying to dry out, but boiling body of water will actually cause the bean curd to squeeze out more moisture, bringing it to the surface and making it easier to blot off, while the salt gently seasons the slices .

No matter which method you choose—pressing the bean curd between towels or pouring salted boiling water on exceed and then blotting—your bean curd should be dry to the equal before you cook it. Have you ever stuck out your tongue and left it out for few minutes to see how dry it can get ? That ‘s what your bean curd should feel like .

Blotting tofu slices dry with towels.

Should You Marinate Tofu First ?

It seems like a no-brainer to marinate bean curd, but I ‘d actually advise against it. While non-silken bean curd does have a reasonably spongy texture that will absorb marinades, you end up with bean curd that browns excessively fast and tastes like raw marinade on the inside. I prefer keeping the bean curd tasting like bean curd, using a sauce applied after cooking to lend it relish if it needs it. The combination of intense sauce with clean tofu spirit is far more pleasant ( or sophisticated, or classy, or whatever it is that ‘ll get you to try it ) .

similarly, a dust of spices can be tasty if the spices are fresh, by rights toasted, and balanced, but again, you want to apply them after cooking the bean curd. Tofu merely takes besides long to crisp up properly to be able to season before cooking without running the risk of burning those spices up .

When and How to Coat Tofu for Frying

Tofu frying in a skillet.
just like there are days when you put on your wide winter gear to head out, others in which you lounge approximately in your pajama on the sofa, and still others where nary a musical composition of framework girds your loins from dawn to dusk, the way you coat your bean curd depends on the site .

Tofu frying in a skillet, browned on top side.
If you like it apparent ( as I do from time to fourth dimension ), then the way to do it is to fry the slices in a dense vomit iron frying pan over tone down heat until deep brown and crisp on both sides, using a thin metallic element spatula to flip the slices as they crisp. Taking your time is identify : the more gently you brown the slices, the more evenly and deeper brown you can get them without burning them .

A plate of crispy fried tofu.
If, on the other hand, the bean curd is destined for a stir-fry or some other impertinent application, you ‘ll want to give them a crisp coating that can both absorb a sting of sauce, and provide a layer of protection so that the bean curd can stay crisp even after saucing .

I tried coating bean curd with assorted blends of of flour, potato starch, rice flour, and corn starch, both pan-fry and french-fry, and found that the crisp, cleanest-tasting results came from a french-fry in a simple coat of cornstarch .

Tofu slices tossed in cornstarch.
Crisp fresh out of the fryer, that is. After a few minutes of resting while I prepare the perch of my stir-fry and sauce, the crisp coating had softened. What if I were to use a wet dinge alternatively ? I ‘d spent a hanker time working out a recipe for a korean Fried Chicken batter which worked evenly well on a batch of Crispy Buffalo-Fried Cauliflower. Would the same coating work on my bean curd ?

Testing samples of crispy fried tofu.
indeed it did : a quick dredge in dry cornstarch followed by a dip into a cornstarch, water, and vodka concoction before a plunge into a wok with a quart of 350°F petroleum resulting in ultra-crisp bites of bean curd that stay crisp evening after you finish them off in a stir-fry .

How To Stir-Fry Crispy Tofu

Ingredients for stir-fried crispy tofu with broccoli.
When stir-frying, the order in which you cook your ingredients is of vital importance. A standard wok roll in a chinese restaurant has discriminate controls for the gas and oxygen flow, allowing them to reach heat outputs over 80,000 british thermal unit. This allows cooks to add ingredients in flying succession, keeping everything hot enough to produce smoky, browned flavors without any excess steam or seethe. It ‘s this high heat that gives a good stir-fry a tender-crisp texture, bright discolor, and a lightly smoky, charred flavor .

A home burner, on the other hand, is about an order of magnitude weaker than a restaurant wok range. This means that rather than adding all of your ingredients to the same wok, it works far better if you cook your individual ingredients in batches, reheat the wok between batches, and combine them all at the very end. ( See our Wok Skills 101 series for more details. ) Most stimulate fries follow the like basic formula : two or three main ingredients, cooked one at a fourth dimension, followed by some aromatics, and a sauce to bind it all together .

Frying tofu slices until crispy in a wok of hot oil.
For exemplify, to make a crisp bean curd and broccoli stir-fry with a glossy, garlicky sauce, I start by deep-frying the coated bean curd in the wok, then transfer it to a wallpaper towel-lined plate to drain. I then pour off the oil ( I save mine in a cover potentiometer to be reused late ), wipe out the wok, and heat a short spot more anoint in it over high heat until it actually starts smoke .

Stir-frying broccoli florets.
In go the second chief component : broccoli florets, cut into bite-sized pieces. For the best spirit, you want a combination of browning through direct conductive heat—that is, estrus from the wok—as well as the relish gained by tossing the broccoli into the air, allowing the hot vent rising from the burners to vaporize some of the micro-particles of anoint that drive sprayed up during the serve .

Stir frying broccoli with scallions and other aromatics.
a soon as the broccoli is browned but before it ‘s wholly tender, I add the aromatics .

taiwanese dishes incorporate a broad crop of aromatic vegetables and spices, but for this detail dish, I ‘m using what ‘s sometimes called the Holy Trinity of chinese cuisine : finely chopped ginger, scallions, and garlic ,. I go heavy on the garlic .

30 seconds-worth of tossing and they ‘re done. The broccoli and aromatics go into a bowl to rest while I cook the sauce .

This detail sauce balances some acidity with some salty, angelic, and savory elements : chinese rice wine, soy sauce, bean sauce, vegan sugar, vegan breed, and toasted sesame oil. Some cornstarch binds it all together : As it cooks in the hot wok, it should reduce into a cloying, flavor-packed glaze .

A wok full of stir-fried tofu and broccoli with sauce.
All that ‘s left is to toss your bean curd and broccoli in it, garnishee with some crispen sesame seeds, and you ‘re ready to eat .

The leave is tender-crisp crowns of broccoli and crunchy bites of bean curd with damp, tender cores, all coated in a slick, flavor-packed sauce. even my wife, the big tofu-hater, finished off her plate ( though true, she did identical liberally insist that my sister take all the leftovers ) .

20140205-fried-tofu-vegan-18
The smasher of the technique is that with this coating under my belt, I ‘m now equipped to incorporate crisp bean curd into any number of stir-fries, which means my vegan menu options have just become about illimitable, and coincidentally, so accept yours .

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