oil

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Okay, quick recap:

In Part 0, we learned how to prepare tofu via pressing and that silken tofu is largely the suck unless its the shake or the cake.

In Part 1, we learned how to bake tofu to give it a firm outer texture and a moist inner texture that will keep your mouth from thinking sucky tofu.

Now, in Part 2, we will look at frying tofu.  Tomorrow will explore frying it, then saucing it, before finishing the series with an amazing recipe for vegan ma po tofu.  Mmmm… Also, after this series over, I will be releasing it as one PDF with images on this site.  Check back for more details.

And now without further ado… deep frying tofu.

Of all the techniques to make tofu, this one is the most likely to result in something you are going to want to eat. Deep frying pretty much anything makes it better, right?  Tofu is no different.  Still, there are some things to take into consideration before deep frying your tofu.

Size Matters

There, I said it.  When it comes to deep frying tofu, how you cut it will make a big difference to the texture of the final product.  While you can cut your tofu any way you would like, you have two options.

First:

  • You can cut the tofu into 1 1/2 inch by 1/2 inch by 1/2 inch pieces like you were baking it.
  • After deep frying, you are going to have firm on the outside.  However, because the oil will probably not have time to penetrate into the middle of the tofu, the center is still going to be chewy and rather tofu-like.
  • This is how it served in a lot of Chinese dishes, but if you are reading this, you probably want something that is not tofu-like so I do not recommend this for tofu beginners.

Second:

  • Cut the tofu into half inch cubes and deep fry.
  • Cubes have much greater ratio of exterior which will get nice and crispy in the oil to interior which stays moist.  The smaller interior means less non-fried tofu texture and a better experience.
  • In fact, if you leave the tofu in the oil long enough, the entire block will get fried.  I don’t necessarily advocate this since it makes for greasy tofu, but it is an idea.

Coating

You also have the option of whether to bread, batter, or otherwise cover the tofu.  The sky is the limit here and I encourage your to play around with different deep fried tofu coatings.  I have three ideas, all of which build off the one before it to get you started.

  1. Naked tofu (wow, this post got racy, didn’t it?)  In all seriousness, just drop the tofu in the hot oil and fry it.  No fuss, no muss.  No extra flavoring and no color, either.
  2. Coat in corn starch.  Either put the tofu in a plastic bag filled with corn starch or put corn starch on a plate and cover the tofu with it.  Shake off the excess and fry.  This promotes browning and will thicken sauces if the tofu is added to it.
  3. Coat in corn meal.  First, pat the tofu dry with a paper towel.  Create a slurry of equal parts water and corn starch.  Dunk the tofu in the slurry and then put it on a plate with corn meal that has been spiced to your liking.  Coat the tofu, shake off the excess and put it in the oil.  Consider doing this a second fry (fry the tofu once to cook it then coat in slurry and corn meal, fry for 15-30 seconds.)

Frying Time

Fry tofu until it is golden brown, which usually takes between 3 and 4 minutes, though it could be longer with a thicker wet batter.  Fry in small batches, too, because tofu has a tendency to clump, especially when coated in a starch.

The sky is the limit when it comes to deep frying tofu.  The important thing is you enjoy!

Anyone else have any tofu coating tips?