Crisped tofu with peanut & edamame sesame slaw
How do you feel about tofu? Some people really hate it, and often cite the bland flavour or foamy texture as the reason. I agree that it can be bland – but it also soaks up flavour incredibly well, after just a short time marinating.
But if you get good quality, Japanese tofu I think the mild, creamy taste can be really soothing and delicious in its own right. And as for the texture, it’s all down to the way you cook it and the way it’s prepared. I’ve never cooked tofu at home and ended up with a dry, spongey texture that can often be found in nasty Chinese takeaway dishes – I’m not altogether sure how on earth you make that stuff!
I buy firm tofu, which, despite the name, is really quite silky and smooth – yet is sturdy enough to withstand being chucked in the deep fryer. Deep frying is in my opinion the best way to go with tofu – the crispy crunch contrasts beautifully with the silky smooth tofu it encases.
Deep fried food always deserves a good salad accompaniment, to lessen the guilt factor and provide a flavour-full backdrop with other, different textures to enjoy. Mine is based on a slaw, with a base of shredded cabbage and carrot, but jazzed up considerably with freshly roasted peanuts, a rich sesame dressing and popping edamame beans.
You will need:
For the tofu:
350g Japanese firm tofu
1 litre sunflower oil
1 egg, beaten
2 tspns plain flour
60g panko breadcrumbs
1 tspn chilli flakes
For the salad:
1/2 red cabbage, finely sliced
2 carrots, shredded
2 spring onions, sliced diagonally
200g shelled edamame beans, cooked and cooled
2-3 handfuls of raw peanuts
1 tbspn chopped coriander
tbspn sesame seeds
For the dressing:
1 1/2 tsbpn sesame oil
1 tspn tahini
1 tbspn dark soy sauce
juice of 1/2 lime
1 tspn sugar
1 tbspn rice wine vinegar
1 – Start by preheating the oven to 200 degrees
2 – Scatter your peanuts on an oven tray, sprinkle over some salt and pop in the oven to roast for about ten minutes, until golden
3 – Now make your salad dressing by mixing together the tahini and sesame oil, and then stirring in all of the other ingredients for the dressing
4 – Assemble the salad by tossing the cabbage, edamame, peanuts, carrot and spring onions together in a big serving bowl using your hands
5 – Scatter the coriander and sesame seeds on top and set aside while you make your tofu
6 – Cut the tofu block into around 12 large chunks; one by one, dab the tofu in the flour, coating well, then the egg wash, again coating well, and finally plonk it into the panko crumbs, patting them onto the tofu gently all over
7 – Meanwhile, place your oil in a deep saucepan and place over a medium-high heat
8 – After 5 minutes, throw a breadcrumb in the oil to test whether it’s hot enough – if it fizzes vigorously, but not violently, it’s ready (turn the oil down a touch if it fizzes and spits too ferociously)
9 – Carefully but quickly use tongs to place your tofu in the hot oil, one by one; cook for 2-4 minutes, until the crumbs have turned golden
10 – Remove the tofu when down with a slotted spoon or tongs and drain on kitchen paper before popping it into a serving dish
11 – Sprinkle the tofu generously with salt, pepper and chilli flakes and serve immediately alongside your salad, which you should dress at the table to retain slaw-like crunch!