Deep frying is a standard precooking preparation for tofu, used to produce a nice crust and tender interior. It’s faster than baking tofu, but it’s a little more complicated. Pat the tofu dry to prevent spattering. Then you have two options: One is to halve it horizontally, which is quick and easy. The other is to cube, slice, or cut it into rectangles or triangles (traditional); this takes a little more effort up front, but it reduces cooking time and gives slightly better results.
Fried tofu can be sauced and served as in the variation, or used later in stir-fries, sandwiches, or salads (see “12 Toppers and Dipping Sauces for Precooked Tofu or Seitan,” page 490).
- Yield: 4 to 8 Servings
- Total Time: 20 Minutes
- Good-quality vegetable oil for frying
- 1 –2 pounds tofu, halved horizontally, cubed, or sliced (see headnote),
- and patted dry
- Salt (optional)
- Pour oil to a depth of 2 inches or more in a large, deep skillet or pot over medium heat and heat it to 350°F (see “Deep Frying,” page 26).
- When it’s hot, slide in the tofu, in batches if necessary, and fry, turning occasionally, until golden brown and puffy, just a few minutes; do not overcook or the tofu will toughen. Remove with a slotted spoon, drain on paper towels, and sprinkle with salt if you like. Use or cool, cover, and refrigerate for up to 3 days.
- AGEDASHI TOFU Best with firm or extra-firm silken tofu: Before frying the tofu, combine 1 cup Kombu Dashi (page 100), 2 tablespoons soy sauce, and 2 tablespoons mirin or 1 tablespoon honey in a small saucepan. Heat until steaming, then keep warm. Cube the tofu, then fry as directed. Put the fried tofu in a bowl and pour the sauce over it, or use the sauce for dipping. Garnish with chopped or shredded scallions, grated daikon, toasted sesame seeds (see page 299), crumbled toasted nori (see page 244), and/or grated fresh ginger. O