pan-fried tofu: lines, lines and more lines.

There is something magnetic about lines. Your eye follows them, drawn to wherever they are leading. And yet they seem so unnatural. There are not many organic things that are composed in a straight line - the term 'organic' conjours up images of swirls and beauty that can not just stay in one straight direction but must wind, curve, and twist. The word 'line' corresponds in my head with 'man-made' - generally something I am not drawn to. Yet, lines. . . there is something beautiful about lines.
I followed my love of lines on every major street from Granville to Main (I was planning on walking all the way to Commercial, but decided. Back alleys were my muse. In any city, it is always the alleys that tell the story, never the main streets. It's a consistent fact from Ottawa to Cairo, from Brisbane to Jerusalem. And the lines found in them. Beautiful, slightly crooked, with varying light, shadows, thickness. Absolutely gorgeous.
As I rode the bus home, I watched lines pass me by and thought - I want an orderly meal. Something square, visibly man made. I want: tofu.
Tofu you say - yes tofu. For many of you, you have partaken of meals made by myself that contained this marvelous bean curd, and you never knew it. However, before you come to claim retribution, try this recipe. Tofu can be good, believe me. No, seriously. Still doubting? Try it. This cubed bean curd has been in culinary use for around 2000 years. Not many man-made food traditions can claim that age. 
There is a trick to frying the perfect tofu. Firstly, the trick to good tofu in and of itself is frying (and it is rare that I recommend to fry anything). Secondly, you need a good sauce, a good marinade, the crowning glory of any tofu.

Another good trick is to freeze your tofu (if you like a meatier texture rather than smooth).This separates the bean curd from the water. That way, when thawed, you can literally squeeze the moisture out.Treat the tofu like it is a slab of meat. I know many would never place the two in the same category, however, it practically is meat to many 'barefooters' out there (I can use this term liberally because it used to apply to me). Tofu is good. Trust me. Or don't, and try this recipe.
Best Tofu Ever

1 block firm organic tofu, cut into whatever shapes you want (triangles, squares) about 1/2 inch thick (the thinner you slice it, the crispier it will be - you can go all the way to 1/4 inch)
1/4 c. flour or cornstarch (the latter is the usual)
1 tsp. garlic powder (or whatever other spice you want, I find this is a good one for any recipe though)
salt to taste
Enough oil to cover the bottom of a skillet
*Some would argue not to use oil, and dry-fry, but I find it adds a little "somethin'-somethin'".

1. Put the seasoning over the tofu. Cover it with paper towel on the top, and place paper towel underneath. Place a heavy skillet (or any object) overtop. Let gravity do its job, and squeeze out the moisture from the tofu for about 30 mins. Dust with cornstarch, and more seasoning if you want.

2. Heat oil in a skillet. Pan fry both sides of tofu until brown. Drain excess oil on paper towel. Enjoy with any sauce you would like. Thai sweet chili sauce, available at most grocery stores (wow that line sounds like an advertisement), is a good one. A peanut sauce, similar to the sauce I made for the pad thai, is also a good choice. Or just throw in any stir fry you are eating and use that marinade.

3. Pray. Eat (careful, it's hot!). Enjoy, and wander the street behind your house.


Cooking in Mexico said...

I don't know which I like better -- your photos or your recipes. Both are very impressive!