I think I’m going through a stage.
I can’t tell you quite what set it off – head trauma, alien abduction, or suchlike things. All joking aside, it might be the 40th birthday looming in the not-as-distant-as-I’d-like future. But…I’m starting to really, REALLY like tofu.
If you’d asked me a couple of years ago, I’d have told you that it was tasteless, squidgy stuff that made me think of erasers and cardboard. It was what vegetarians and vegans ate to make up for the lack of anything chewy and meaty in their diets. It was what health nuts ate, or people stricken with some horrible health problem that forced them to give up all the good things in life and subsist on slop.
Oh, tofu. I’ve done you wrong. And I’m sorry for all the mean things I’ve said.
That said, it does help when it’s good food prepared by skilled cooks. It especially helps when it’s a superior product. BUT (and like my own, it’s a huge “but”) it has to be a very good recipe indeed when it can be made with indifferent ingredients by someone who can cook but isn’t bothering to care that evening, and the food still comes out the other side tasting brilliant.
Can I suggest that you try Agedashi Tofu?
There are a lot of recipes out there. Tons. An authentic top-notch recipe will have you make dashi (which is a sort of broth) from scratch. It’s a bit of work, but not that much. However you can also buy dashi powder which makes it no work at all. Sure, it’s not authentic and it doesn’t taste quite as good, but most people aren’t going to notice the difference and you won’t be struck down by ninjas if you use it. The one big problem with my recipe is that it’s not really a recipe. I don’t have quantities because I mostly tasted and made it up as I went along. Sorry! Google really is your friend in this instance.
However, if you want to take the risk of wandering into uncharted territory with me, it sort of goes like this.
Buy a pack of medium-firm tofu. Drain the tofu on paper towel and cut into large cubes. Mine were about 2cms across. Make up a small bowl of dashi by any means you like. Add a splash of soy sauce and a splash of mirin. No one flavour should predominate and you should have a slightly sweet, salty broth. Put this aside and heat some oil.
While the oil is heating, carefully toss the tofu in flour. I’ve used plain flour and corn flour – plain goes a good golden colour and corn makes for a very crispy coating. It’s traditional to use potato starch but I didn’t have any and couldn’t be bothered (which has started to be a theme around here). Fry the tofu in batches until golden. You can shallow-fry or deep-fry – it doesn’t matter which. When golden and crispy, drain the tofu and put a couple of cubes in each dish. Spoon broth over the tofu, garnish with spring onion and bonito flakes. I add a slice of lemon (not traditional) because I like the tang, but I’ve also used wasabi oil (with caution – that stuff really does a number on your sinuses!). Use both! Knock yourself out!
Slurp to your hearts content.