I don’t like deep-frying food because it creates an awful mess and I've never worked out exactly what should be done with the oil when I'm finished. So I was delighted to discover that I could buy deep-fried tofu. For a change from silken or cotton tofu, if you live close enough to Chinatown to buy it, see if you can find small squares of deep-fried tofu. You can tell that it’s been deep-fried because it will be very firm, quite dark in colour and a certain amount of oil can be seen on the inside of the packaging. It needs to be rinsed well in very hot water to remove excess oil. It's already cooked, so the simplest way to use it is to microwave a small square and then cut it into bite-sized pieces and assemble the pieces on top of a bed of greens or noodles. Drizzle the top with a black bean sauce or another sauce of your choosing and garnish with gomasio. If you arrange it nicely, it’s a lot of effect for little effort.

If you want to get a bit more elaborate, you could cut the block and then sauté it to seal the exposed edges and serve it in a sauce, or marinate it before cooking, as in marinated cotton tofu.

There is another type of deep-fried tofu I sometimes buy in Chinatown which I dubbed “puff tofu” because it’s very light and full of air. When I can find it, I rinse it in hot water and then cut it into thin strips. I boil these in water to which shoyu (soy sauce) and rice vinegar have been added to flavour and remove excess oil, strain it in a colander and run cold water over it to cool it enough to handle it. I squeeze the water out of it and then marinate it in shoyu, mirin and wasabi before adding it to salads or soups.

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