Midterms are terrribleeee! Some people say that college/university is the best time of your life, but exams really makes me have doubts about that -laugh-.
But I’m finally on Fall Break! That means I can cook!
So, this time, I thought I’d try tempura tofu. I’d been to a Japanese restaurant with some friends the other day, and I had some pretty good tempura yam, and I suddenly thought, “Wouldn’t tempura silken tofu be awesome? Crispy on the outside but soft (and maybe even custard-like) on the inside?” And besides, we can’t really deny it–almost anything deep-fried tastes good.
As a warning, this post is a bit long (some more text than usual), but it has a lot of tips with dealing with silken tofu when you’re trying to deep fry it.
The tempura mix recipe I found was Cin’s Recipes here. But for those who prefer staying on one page for an entire recipe, or, in this case, tips on how to work with extremely tricky silken tofu, I’ve copied and pasted the same ingredients from the webpage.
1 cup flour
1/4 cup cornstarch
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 egg, slightly beaten
3/4 cup cold water
1/4 cup vegetable oil
Cayenne pepper, to taste (optional)
Basically, mix the dry ingredients thoroughly before adding the egg, water, and oil and beating it until it forms a fairly thick white liquid, like this:
Cin’s recipe says that it makes about two cups and it’ll keep for a few days in the fridge. I really hope it lasts until Monday since my roommates are coming back and I told them we could make tempura since I have the batter…
As I mentioned before, silken tofu is reallyyyy hard to work with. Compared to firmer tofu, silken tofu has this irritating feature of falling apart before it actually reaches your mouth. This is especially true when you’re deep frying it after trying to coat it in the tempura mix. I had quite a few failures because when I tried to place it into the oil, it ended falling apart into the pan. In the end, I just gave up on perfect cubes and thought that they were just as fun to eat as tofu nuggets.
A way to deal with this might just mean a bigger frying pot, more oil, and a metal strainer. If I had the space or equipment, I would’ve cut the tofu on a metal strainer and poured the tempura mix over it before dipping the entire thing in the oil. Since tempura only takes a few seconds to cook, it would’ve been easier to lift the entire block of tofu out while it was on the strainer instead of trying to pick up the pieces with a pair of chopsticks.
Also, because silken tofu is smoother, I’m assuming that it has a higher water content compared to firm tofu. This is terrifying if you’re trying to deep fry because it means that everything fizzes and the oil ends up “popping” and splattering your kitchen and stove. It’s also incredibly painful when you get a hot oil burn, so make sure to be careful. I’ve found that the best way to combat this is to get a pair of yellow rubber gloves and use chopsticks to put the tofu into the oil.
For those who are working with tofu straight out of the fridge, I’d also like to mention that the tempura mix will burn before you even cook the tofu through. Therefore, it’s probably a good idea to nuke your tofu until it’s warm all the way through before dipping it in the tempura mix.
The tofu oozing looks like it’s just begging you to eat it (or maybe it was just begging me…) But, here! Onto the actual “recipe”.
1 block of silken tofu
~1 cup of oil
1. Boil oil in a deep frying pan. I have no way of measuring the temperature, but a tip is to stick your chopsticks in when you think it’s been hot enough. If it’s boiling, the oil around the chopsticks will start to bubble.
2. Slice the tofu into pieces that are small enough to be submerged in the oil. Coat in tempura batter.
3. Submerge the coated tofu and leave for a few seconds (at most! Tempura batter burns quickly, so make sure to be quick) before taking out and placing on a plate.
4. And that leaves you with…