Thursday, December 8, 2022

This Korean-Style Spicy Braised Tofu recipe reveals how fuss-free the bean curd can be

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Scale this recipe and get a printer-friendly, desktop model right here.

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Long in the past, I used to press. You could know the drill: If you don’t have a particular machine, then it’s a matter of balancing plates and possibly a heavy can to squeeze the tofu for a half-hour or so. The motive? To make room for a marinade to penetrate, theoretically including taste to every millimeter of the inside. But in my expertise, these marinades don’t ever penetrate all that properly, even when the tofu is pressed. More usually, I simply deal with the energy of a glaze or sauce so as to add a lot taste to the exterior that it gives a pleasant distinction to (or compensates for) the impartial inside.

Instead of worrying about getting an excessive amount of moisture out of the tofu, you can deal with simply getting it off the tofu. By drying the exterior, you set it up for higher pan-frying, getting the exterior agency and a bit of chewy-crisp, whereas leaving the inside creamy. (Shatteringly crisp tofu, on the different hand, occurs solely whenever you dredge it in a starch earlier than frying, and for that you simply don’t even must dry it, as a result of the moisture helps the starch adhere.)

A number of years in the past, after I examine a microwaving approach, the place you wrap it in towels and nuke it for a minute or so, I went that course. Besides expelling moisture, that can additionally assist the tofu maintain up higher in stir-fries and the like, though when you use extra-firm or agency tofu, this isn’t a lot of an issue.

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Since I’m at all times on the lookout for brand spanking new tofu strategies, I used to be intrigued by one I examine in J. Kenji Lopez-Alt’s complete new e-book, “The Wok.” He calls so that you can slice the tofu and pour boiling water over it, writing that the scorching water “will actually cause the tofu to squeeze out more moisture.” When I attempted it in Lopez-Alt’s recipe for Korean-Style Spicy Braised Tofu, although, the tofu by no means felt “slightly tacky and dry to the touch” as promised. I patted it dry, moved proper alongside, and cherished the dish that resulted: A fast pan-fry will get the tofu splendidly crisp-chewy, then it rapidly simmers in a spicy soy sauce that turns into a glaze.

After speaking to my good friend Andrea Nguyen, creator of “Asian Tofu” and different nice books, I attempted the identical recipe three extra instances, prepping the tofu a unique manner for every. For pan-frying, Nguyen likes to dry brine tofu, flippantly salting slices and letting them sit for a couple of minutes earlier than blotting away moisture. That labored properly, too, as did the microwave technique.

Do you recognize what additionally labored? Doing nothing. That is, I sliced the tofu and easily patted it dry earlier than frying. This was one other suggestion from Nguyen, who has confirmed in such cookbooks as the fantastic “Vietnamese Cooking Any Day” that she has an unerring sense of simply what’s price doing in the kitchen, and what isn’t. (She usually simply lets the tofu drain for a couple of minutes as she preps different elements. “I rarely press it,” she says.) Again, I obtained that crisp-chewy exterior, nearly indistinguishable from the tofu I prepped utilizing the different strategies.

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Lopez-Alt’s recipe, which places a scrumptious dish in your desk in a mere 25 minutes, works superbly whether or not you fuss over your tofu — or simply let it be.

Scale this recipe and get a printer-friendly, desktop model right here.

Note that whereas this recipe was written for the wok, and is from Lopez-Alt’s new e-book extolling that pan’s virtues, you can make it in a cast-iron or different heavy skillet, as a substitute.

Storage: Refrigerate for as much as 3 days.

Where to Buy: Gochugaru can be present in well-stocked Asian or worldwide supermarkets.

  • One (14- to 16-ounce) block agency tofu, drained and minimize into 1/2-inch slabs
  • 2 tablespoons peanut, rice bran or different impartial oil
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 3 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon gochugaru (Korean chile flakes), or to style (could substitute crushed pink pepper flakes or Aleppo pepper)
  • 2 teaspoons granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
  • 1 teaspoon toasted sesame seeds, plus extra for serving
  • 2 medium garlic cloves, minced or pressed
  • 1 scallion, trimmed and thinly sliced

Make the tofu: Pat the tofu dry with a clear dish towel. If you’d like, wrap the tofu slices in the towel and microwave on HIGH for 1 minute. (Alternatively, you can sprinkle the tofu slices on both sides with 1/4 teaspoon of superb salt and let sit for 10 minutes earlier than patting dry.)

Heat a wok over excessive warmth till flippantly smoking. Reduce the warmth to medium, add the oil and swirl to coat. Add the tofu, one piece at a time, in a single layer (it would come up the sides of the wok a bit of) and cook dinner, often swirling the pan gently, till crisp and darkish golden brown on the first aspect, 3 to five minutes. (If the tofu sticks in any respect whenever you swirl the wok, let it cook dinner undisturbed for 1 or 2 minutes earlier than gently prying it off with a skinny steel spatula and swirling the wok to make sure nothing is sticking.) Slide the tofu out of the wok onto a big plate and return the wok to medium warmth.

Flip the tofu items (pry them aside in the event that they’re caught collectively on the edges), then return them to the wok and cook dinner on the different aspect, swirling the pan gently, till crisp on the second aspect, 3 to five minutes. Slide the tofu again out onto a plate and put aside.

Make the sauce: In a small bowl, whisk collectively the water, soy sauce, gochugaru, sugar, sesame oil, sesame seeds, garlic and scallion till the sugar dissolves.

Reduce the warmth to medium-low, add the sauce and the tofu to the wok and cook dinner, turning the tofu often, till the sauce reduces to a syrupy glaze that coats each bit, about 2 minutes. Sprinkle with further sesame seeds and serve.

Per serving (2 piece tofu with glaze)

Calories: 179; Total Fat: 14 g; Saturated Fat: 2 g; Cholesterol: 0 mg; Sodium: 440 mg; Carbohydrates: 7 g; Dietary Fiber: 2 g; Sugar: 3 g; Protein: 9 g

This evaluation is an estimate based mostly on accessible elements and this preparation. It shouldn’t substitute for a dietitian’s or nutritionist’s recommendation.

Adapted from “The Wok” by J. Kenji Lopez-Alt (W.W. Norton, 2022).

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