Sunday, January 11, 2009

A steamy, crispy Saturday night

Fried tofu with brown rice

Mike is a rice fiend. I consider myself more of a pasta girl, but rice has certainly taken over the apartment. The rice cooker is always bubbling away and Mike can find anything (or sometimes nothing at all is OK too) to put on it. We just recently gave brown rice a try because I felt like we were eating a lot of white rice.

We rarely fry, but when we do it's usually tofu. I love fried tofu and considering I don't allow myself donuts or french fries (at least not often!) I think the occasional fried tofu won't hurt. So last night we put on some brown rice and I fried up some tofu. When I was a kid, and before I was a vegetarian, my mom used to make sweet and sour pork and it was my favorite. She'd toss pieces of pork in cornstarch and fry them in a wok. That's why I always use cornstarch instead of flour; I think it's crispier and this time I seasoned it! There isn't much in the way of a recipe here, but I'll give you the run down below.

Fried Tofu:

1 block water-packed tofu
1/4-1/2 cup cornstarch
onion powder
dried ginger

Vegetable oil

First I poured vegetable oil about an inch deep in a large dutch oven (I have a wok for stir fry, but I like the surface area of the dutch oven and I can get a lot more done at once!). I turned the stove on medium-high and allowed it to heat up while I cut the tofu. You can see that I cut the tofu into long rectangles maybe about 1 inch by 2 inches. I like good sized pieces and it's easier to not have to coat a million little squares in cornstarch.

In a small bowl mix 1/4 cup of cornstarch with seasonings to taste. I usually just do cornstarch and hit the freshly fried pieces with salt and pepper at the end. I had to guess on the seasoning, but I probably ended up with a teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon pepper, a pinch of cayenne, 1/2 teaspoon each onion powder and ginger. I tasted the first piece I fried and it was too salty, so I added more cornstarch to balance it.

Using disposable wooden chopsticks I dipped pieces of tofu in the cornstarch mixture and gently dropped them into the hot oil. A good way to see if the oil is ready is to take your wooden chopstick (or a wooden spoon handle) and put it in the oil. If little bubble form around it, you're good to go. Once the pot is filled with tofu, make sure you turn it occasionally to brown it evenly. Mine took a little while, but the texture and golden brown color was worth it! Plus, brown rice takes about twice as long to cook as white rice so I had time to fry mine until a deep color.

Once the tofu is ready, remove using chopsticks and place on a baking rack to cool. I put paper towels underneath to catch excess oil. I like the baking rack because the tofu stays crispy! Serve while hot over rice with soy or sauce of choice (we like a generic stir fry sauce). Enjoy!

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