Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Fried tofu

I was having a craving for something fried last night, and I had a block of tofu in the fridge, so Lo! Fried tofu.

This is very easy and quick to make, and healthier than it sounds. I paired it with some Thai peanut sauce I already had. The key is to press all the moisture out of the tofu, since water + fry = mess. Sandwich it between two sets of paper towels and put a big heavy skillet, or any big heavy thing, on top. Change the paper towels as needed, until the tofu is no longer weeping moisture. (If you start with a block of firm or extra-firm tofu, this doesn't take long at all.) Then cut in half lengthwise, and cut each half into approximately five blocks. Meanwhile, start 1 cup or so of vegetable oil in a skillet (preferably cast-iron). When the oil is hot, lightly dip each side of each block of tofu into some cornstarch. Fry for a few minutes on each side. Serve piping hot.

Cost: a block of tofu is about $2, the cost of the cornstarch was negligible, and let's say the cost of the oil was 25 cents. $2.25 total for a great appetizer for two or meal for one, and it takes just minutes to prepare. An order of fried tofu at the local Chinese place runs $4.99, and you get less tofu.

A lot of people needlessly diss tofu, thinking it will taste like something vegan hippies eat. Au contraire--tofu merely takes on the flavors of its surroundings. It has very little flavor of its own, meaning you can add it to almost anything for a great cheap source of protein. Fried tofu tastes mostly like fried, with a nice creamy center. And let's face it--this dish was really just a delivery system for the sauce, anyway.


  1. Yes, but what to do with the texture. Even the extra-firm tofu is too mealy for me. Does the cornstarch help firm it up?

  2. The frying will change the texture. The cornstarch is just to provide that nice crisp fried coating, but the inside will get very creamy. Not mealy at all.