Friday, October 7, 2011

Pan-Fried Tofu with Scallions and Soy Sauce

Very simple ingredients in this recipe. In fact, the most time consuming (if you consider 5-6 minutes time consuming) part is the pan-frying of the tofu to achieve a lightly golden, crispy exterior. This dish is standard fare in Taiwanese cuisine and a fixture in my mom's home cooking. The sliced red jalapeno is not traditional, but something I like to add for color & a little kick. I've cooked this dish two ways: one using firm/regular tofu, which is cut into large rectangular slices, and the other using soft tofu which is cut into squares.

1 19-oz cake of regular tofu (bean curd), cut into 8 rectangular slices. If using soft tofu, cut into 12 squares.
4 scallions, cut into 2" sections
4 cloves of garlic, smashed & halved
1 cup water
1 tsp. chicken base
4 tbsp. soy sauce
1 tbsp. rice wine
2 tsp. sesame oil
1 tbsp. sugar
1 red or green jalapeno, seeded & sliced, for garnish (optional)
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 tbsp. cornstarch (mix with 3 tbsp. of the sauce mixture)

1. Slice tofu into 8 rectangular pieces (or into 12 square pieces), as shown below .

2. For sauce: stir together water, chicken base, soy sauce, rice wine, sesame oil, & sugar. Set aside.

3. Heat oil over medium high heat. With paper towels, blot tofu to remove excess water and fry until golden brown, about 2-3 minutes per side. Tofu should be fried in a single layer - cook in batches, if needed.

4. Remove tofu to plate lined with paper towels. Set aside.

5. Remove all but about 1 tsp. of oil from the pan, bring back up to medium high heat and add scallions & garlic (you can also add 1 sliced jalapeno chili if you like it a bit spicy). Cook briefly then add fried tofu slices. 

6. Pour sauce over the tofu, bring to a boil; reduce heat to low & simmer, covered, about 15 minutes or until sauce is slightly reduced. Bring sauce back up to a boil then add the cornstarch slurry. Cook for about 1 minute until sauce is thickened.

7. Place tofu on serving dish, pour sauce over & serve with steamed white rice.

Slice the firm/regular tofu cake into 8 rectangular slices. Blot dry with a paper towel.

Soft tofu here cut into smaller squares. Soft tofu will break apart if you try to fry it in large pieces.

4 scallions, cut into 2" sections.

Pan-fry the tofu slices in 1/2 cup of hot oil, about 1-2 minutes per side or until just golden.

Here's the other version using the smaller tofu squares. Carefully lift the tofu pieces with a spatula occasionally, to make sure they don't stick to the bottom of the pan (best to use a non-stick pan). 

Remove tofu slices to paper towel to drain.

If using soft tofu, you don't have to drain them on paper towels. Just set aside on a plate after pan-frying.

Sauce ingredients: Soy sauce, water, sesame oil, rice wine, sugar, chicken base.

Sesame oil, rice wine, soy sauce, chicken base.

Remove all but about 1 tbsp. oil from pan. Saute scallions briefly.

Add garlic and jalapeno (if using).

Add tofu slices.

This version using soft tofu squares. Stir in the soft tofu very carefully, as they will break apart easily.

Add sauce.

This version with the soft tofu squares.

Cover and cook over low heat about 15-20 minutes, or until sauce is slightly reduced.

Bring sauce back up to a boil and add cornstarch slurry to thicken.

Firm/regular tofu slices.

Soft tofu squares.

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