Don’t you get bored with having to think about what next to eat? My partner, Jay, and I cook most of our meals and encounter this dilemma pretty often.
We both gave up beef years ago. We’re seafood fanatics, but you tend to get hungry after a few hours. During my chemo days, we stayed away (and still do) from hormone and antibiotic-fed chicken. But when I needed to up my intake of iron to boost my red blood count, pork (a popular protein in Asian cuisine) was my only option when it came to conjuring up a meal that sticks to the ribs. Now that California has enacted the strictest animal antibiotic laws in the U.S., variety in protein makes us happy foodies.
Even so, we sometimes like to take a break from all that chewing and energy-draining digesting and find ourselves heading to tofu-land. As Asian-Americans it’s easy for us (even my eyes are rolling). There’s absolutely no need to convince us on whether it’s good or not. It’s simply because we do crave this plain looking block of soy. If we’re not tossing cubes of it into a napa cabbage and glass noodle soup, then we’re just pan-frying it in one of our healthier oils.
Crispy tofu is awesome. Period. Texturally we love it. It’s lightly crisp on the outside and soft and moist on the inside. We feel tofu is a relatively easy food product to cook with and shouldn’t be overcomplicated. Like a lot of city folk, we have a small kitchen with the most basic utensils. I personally shy a way from heavy cast iron pans because of wrist problems. Non-stick Teflon coated pans present a host of other issues. Besides, lighter stainless steel pans make tossing and high temperature cooking more fun. But if you’re worried about tofu sticking to the pan, we found cooking it over moderate heat in raw virgin coconut oil helps prevent that from happening. Also make sure your coconut oil is organic.
So are you ready to make some crispy tofu? Read on.
- 1 block of firm or extra firm organic tofu (12 -15 ounces)
- 1 tablespoon of organic raw virgin coconut oil
- Prepare the tofu by draining excess water from the package and gently squeezing the tofu block with palms of your hands. Cut the block of tofu into whichever size you enjoy eating or cooking with. We usually cut it into larger pieces for easier pan frying by cutting the block in half first, then cutting each half into three (3) evenly cut pieces about 1 centimeter thick. Place on a paper towel to absorb additional moisture.
- If you are using a stainless steel or non-stick pan, heat on medium-high temperature for 30 seconds; 1 minute or so if using a cast iron pan.
- Add coconut oil to heated pan and evenly spread it over the surface of the pan. Note that our coconut oil is in solid form. This post was made in mid-December and our place was on the chilly side. It would have been liquid had it been 76°F (24°C) or higher.
- Place cut tofu into skillet leaving enough room between pieces to work your spatula in to flip it onto other side. Leave tofu alone in pan for 5-7 minutes. Toss or shake the pan a little bit so the tofu doesn’t stick.
- Once you see the underside turn golden, you'll know it's almost time to turn them over. As the sides begin to cook as well, flip the pieces over and cook for an additional 4-5 minutes. Add a tad more coconut oil if necessary.
- When the tofu pieces are crisp all over, remove them from the pan and place on a paper towel to absorb any excess oil. Allow them to rest at least a few minutes before serving.
Because of the high fatty acid (good stuff) content in our CocoNana organic raw virgin coconut oil, the crispy tofu we make is light yet it gives us a satisfying feeling of fullness. We typically do away with rolling it around in cornstarch or arrowroot starch before frying for extra crunch that some people like. Remember, we have a small kitchen and try to keep things simple. And when you’re hungry, the fewer steps between refrigerator and mouth, the better. However, we do enjoy our crispy tofu, lightly sprinkled with a vegetarian broth in granular or powder form that we pick up from our local Asian market, as a snack. Other times we incorporate it as a protein in a full on stir-fry dish. You too, can enjoy your crispy tofu in a salad or a sandwich, or by itself with your favorite flavoring agent such as sweet plum sauce, garlic powder, or Sriracha chili.