This is a very simple recipe. Sure, complicate it if you want. Add sea salt flakes and freshly ground black pepper to the cornstarch. Or chilli flakes. But leave it simple if you’re going to add this tofu to a dish like Gado Gado or Five Spiced Tofu (posting soon!).
Whatever you do, this deep fried tofu will taste so much better than most restaurant made deep fried tofu. Why? Because the oil you’re using won’t have been used to deep fry a couple hundred serves of tofu, calamari and what ever else beforehand. And the tofu, well, that might be better, too, particularly if you’ve made it yourself.
Deep Fried Tofu
- Peanut oil or rice bran oil for deep frying (2 to 4 L)
- 500g soft tofu, drained on paper towels
- 250g cornstarch
Heat the oil in a large wok over medium heat. You want the oil very hot, but not smoking. If it smokes, turn it down immediately. If you have a thermometer you want the oil to reach 170-180C.
While the oil heats, pour the cornstarch into a wide mouthed plastic or brown paper bag, and cut the tofu into 3-4cm cubes.
When the oil is hot, toss some of the tofu into the cornstarch, only 3 or 4 pieces at a time. Don’t coat more pieces than you’re able to fry at any one time, because as the tofu sits in the cornstarch, it becomes gluggy and will take on more cornstarch than is palatable. You only want enough cornstarch to make the tofu really crisp when it’s deepfried.
Slide pieces of the tofu, one at a time, into the oil by placing them at the edge of the wok very close to the oil and carefully letting go. This may seem a little scary at first (getting so close to the oil with your fingers), but it will ensure you don’t splash up any hot oil when you add the pieces.
Fry the tofu, in batches, turning with a slotted spoon until golden and crispy on the outside, but still soft and white on the inside. This won’t take very long at all. You’ll be able to feel the pieces begin to crisp up as you move them around with the slotted spoon.
Keep an ear out for the sound of the tofu as you cook it. You want the oil to be hot enough that the pieces ‘sizzle and crack’, but not too loudly. If you have a thermometer, you can keep the oil at around 170C, and see how that sounds. If it gets too loud, turn the heat down a little. If you can’t hear the tofu sizzling very much at all, and there’s no ‘cracking’ sound, then turn the heat up.
When the tofu’s quite hard on the outside and just a little bit coloured, remove it from the oil with the slotted spoon and drain it well on paper towels.
If you’re interested in learning more about tofu, you might like my tofu class (if you’re in Brisbane, that is).