Deep Fried Tofu with Thai Red Curry Sauce

We have a rule in the house: I make it, you eat it. Of course I never make a meal twice if someone absolutely can’t stand it. Well, that’s not true. My kids are 5 and almost 2. I can’t really trust their opinion. If my husband absolutely can’t stand it I won’t make it again, usually because the rest of the family hates it, too. I also cook plenty of things he likes and I don’t like. Peppers and onions come to mind. I figure we can always pick things out.

My husband doesn’t like tofu.

It’s a little hard to pick that out. Well, ok, it’s not hard to pick it out because I always cook it up in bite-size squares. What I meant was one probably shouldn’t eat around the protein part of one’s meal. My husband knows this and so he eats the tofu. I’ve tried numerous ways to make it more appetizing to him and he’s conceded that the flavor I put into it is fine. It’s the texture that bothers him. A fairly common statement, really, and one I can understand.

Yesterday on the drive home (we carpool most days) he told me that a friend suggested flouring and frying the tofu. Being me, I had a lot of questions:

  • Do you still press it?
  • Do you dip it in an egg wash first?
  • If not, how does the flour stick if you’ve pressed most of the liquid out?
  • Do you fry up large pieces of it then cut it up?
  • Do you dip and fry each bite size piece?

I tend to over-think things. My husband took out his handy dandy G1 and researched “Deep Frying Tofu”. As I was planning on doing a tofu stir-fry that night anyway, I figured, “why not try it tonight?” So we borrowed a metal slotted scoop/flipper thing from my Mother-In-Law and Matt made the kids banana pancakes (I knew this would take awhile and didn’t want them waiting for dinner) while I tackled the tofu.

1. Drain a container of Extra Firm Tofu. Using my ultra-professional method of placing the block of tofu between several napkins and balancing a bottle of dishwasher soap on top of it (and realizing now that I usually put a plate on top of the tofu and the soap on top of the plate. Which would explain why the block was so lop-sided when I took it off.), I pressed most of the liquid out. This is an important step anytime you cook with firm tofu. It helps with the texture and cooking.

2. While the soap bottle did its thing, I prepared the batter: 1 Tablespoon corn starch, 1 cup whole wheat flour, olive oil (for frying, actually, not the batter.),1 egg, 1/4 teaspoon baking powder and 2/3 cup water.

3. Place all the ingredients into a small-medium size bowl

4. Mix it all up thoroughly.

I’ll admit, I was a little dubious at this point. The batter seemed really thick. But, what did I know? I’d never deep fried anything before. So, I poured a bunch of olive oil in a hot wok and let it heat up while I moved on to the tofu. OH! there should be enough oil in the wok so it covers the bottom half of the tofu pieces. I’m sorry, I don’t measure eye-balling well.

5. Grabbing an obscenely large knife, I sliced the block in half down the middle (not shown but pretend my knife is  moving straight ahead from where it’s laying.)

6. Cut strips approximately  1 inch wide.

7. Turn the block around and cut 1 inch cubes.

8. Spread them out around the cutting board and sprinkle some salt over them. I couldn’t actually tell if any salt was coming out of the shaker so I had to inspect the tofu to see if any had landed. Not the easiest thing, looking for white specks on nearly white food. I thought I saw some and called it, “Salted.”

Now the fun part! And by “fun” I mean “hot and tedious”. It wasn’t that hot outside so we’d turned the a/c off (mostly because I’d looked at our electric bill the day before and nearly soiled myself.) and of course I thought this was the perfect time to stand over some freaking hot oil and deep fry 30 pieces of tofu.

Yes, I ended up taking my shirt off and yes, I ended up getting hot oil splattered on my stomach. It was probably the least sexy cooking scene where the cook is wearing nothing but a skirt and bra ever.

Ahem. Moving on.

9. Drop the tofu into the batter. Using a fork, spoon (can you spoon with a fork?) some batter over it until it’s covered. Scoop it out with the fork and gently tap the fork against the rim of the bowl to shake off excess batter. I sometimes used the non-serated side of a butter-knife (or what I call a butter knife. I guess they’re actually Dinner Knives, huh?) to scrape of the more stubborn batter.

10. Gently plop it into the hot oil. It took a couple rounds but I eventually got a system going: batter, plop, batter, plop, batter, plop, flip, batter, plop, flip, batter, plop, flip and so on. I’m pretty sure that only made sense in my head. Basically, by the time I had six in the oil, the first three were ready to be flipped around. When they’re nice and golden, scoop them out with a metal slotted spoon and place on some paper towels to drain.

11. Eventually there wasn’t enough batter to cover the pieces. And maybe I was running out of patience, but mostly it was the running out of batter thing. At any rate, I just threw the last 13 pieces into the oil, fried it up and added it to the breaded stuff.

12. Don’t they look nice? I was really impressed with how they turned out.

I was even more impressed when I poured the hot oil into an empty diced tomato can (saving a tablespoon or so for the rest of the stir fry) and it started sizzling like crazy because 50% of the time I forget to rinse out the can so all the tomato bits at the bottom of the can fried. It was awesome and I giggled a lot. “Matt! Do you hear that? That’s the hot oil in the tomato can! HAHAHAHA!” Maybe impressed isn’t the right word. Easily Amused. Only that’s two words.

Now what the heck do we do with all that deep-fried tofu?

13. Grab a bottle of Thai Red Curry Sauce and a bag of frozen veggies, of course! Look, I love washing and cutting vegetables as much as the next gal, but after all that frying, I went the easy route. (FULL DISCLOSURE: I usually go the easy route when it comes to stir fry.)

14. Ok, fine, I’ll throw in some peas from our garden. Happy? Cook and stir that for awhile until the veggies are no longer frozen and are, y’know, cooked.

15. Add the tofu and stir it up.

16. Pour the whole bottle (roughly 1 1/2 cups. I only know that because that’s what the original recipe said.) of sauce and stir and cook until the sauce is bubbly. Or “simmering” if you want to get all technical.

Cook up some rice, or use the rest of the super large batch you made a couple nights before, and spoon some of this on top. Voila!

Verdict: We both loved it! YAY! The texture was great and the sauce was spicey but not too spicey. The tofu could easily be used in many “chinese restaurant” meals like Sweet and Sour Tofu or Sesame Tofu, etc. Next time, I’ll cook it on a weekend when I have more time and when it’s not so hot out.

Or just turn the damn a/c on.

Printable Version if you want to try it: Deep Fried Tofu with Red Thai Curry Sauce.

Inspired by:   Deep Fried Tofu and  Thai Curry Rice Bowl .

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4 Responses

  1. I have a magic solution. Buy tofu, freeze overnight, thaw in fridge for two days. Press the hell out of it with a towel and prepare as usual. The consistency changes completely and it’s so much “meatier” and chewy that I don’t prepare it any other way!

  2. I’ve heard about that but wasn’t sure how to do it. I think I’ll try that. Thanks!

  3. Wait, where are the topless cooking pictures?? This isn’t the type of blog I was led to believe it was… Sigh.

    Totally making this…uh, having Jason make this for me soon. Looks delicious! And I love the new blog!

  4. […] simply because I have this nifty little tool. Roma Tomatoes and Yellow Pepper: Remember in the Deep Fried Tofu post when I said I cook plenty of things that I don’t like but Matt does? These are two of […]

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