I have always been quite a big fan of tofu. I enjoy those spongy chunks you always get served at the Chinese restaurants back home. However when I came to Korea I found that the tofu was too soft. I tried several different brands but to no avail. No matter what I did the chunks would always break up when I was making stir-frys. Lately I have been attending the Seoul Vegan Potluck and have finally learned the secret to good tofu. Rule 1 is that you to get all the water out, usually by putting something heavy on it. Rule 2 is freezing it. I don’t know how, but freezing it turns it back into that lovely spongy goodness I enjoyed back home. To make my tofu a little unhealthier I decided to batter it first. You will need to prepare the tofu a day or two in advance to make it spongy.
2 blocks of tofu
230g of ottogi frying mix
200ml of cold water
A pinch of salt and pepper
Soy bean oil for frying
4 tablespoons of sweet chili sauce
3 tablespoons of sugar
3 tablespoons of vinegar
1 tablespoon of soy sauce
2 tablespoons of ketchup
1 baby orange (the juice and zest)
1 tablespoon of cornflour (corn starch)
Open the two packets of tofu and drain off all the water. Place the blocks on a plate and put something heavy like a frying pan on top of them. This will help to remove a lot of the excess water that is in them. It may take several hours to get out as much water as possible. Once the water is out wrap them in cling film or put them in a zip lock bag and pop them in the freezer. You can leave them in there as long as you like but they need to be in there for at least 12 hours to get the desired texture.
The day you want to use the tofu, take it out of the freezer and let it defrost. Make sure you squeeze out any remaining water that is in the tofu. It will be very spongy at this point. Cut your tofu into chunks ready to be used.
Put the ottogi frying mix in a bowl with a dash of salt and pepper. You could also add any herbs or spices too if you want extra flavour. Combine the dry ingredients then put your tofu into the floury mix and make sure all the pieces are coated before removing. Put the pieces on a separate plate. Meanwhile heat your frying pan and add enough oil to cover the bottom of the pan. Add the water to the remaining dry ingredients and whisk until you have a smooth batter. Dip your floured tofu pieces in one at a time then put them straight into the pan of oil. Turning them until they are golden brown on all sides. Once they are all done remove them from the pan and leave to drain on a piece of kitchen paper.
To make the sauce put all the sauce ingredients into a pan and whisk to combine, making sure the corn flour has dissolved. Turn the heat on and bring the sauce to a boil, stirring occasionally to dispel any lumps.
Serve on a bed of wilted pak choi and scatter on a few toasted cashew nuts. Place the tofu on the pak choi and top with the sauce. Voilà crispy tofu Chinese style.