Tofu is old… Originating in China, it has been around since roughly 200 B.C. As tofu has traveled the globe and been adopted into cuisines everywhere many exciting twists on the timeless classic have emerged, but perhaps none as exciting (and frankly… delicious!) as deep fried tofu.
There are several different varieties of tofu (including firm, silken, flavored, dry and many more) and with the exception of silken tofu (which is very soft) any of the varieties can be used to make fried tofu, each with their own flavors and textures. The majority of fried tofu is of the firm tofu variety and is generally cut into slices about half an inch thick.
The process of frying tofu is much like frying other foods. Most fried tofu has bee deep fried in oil (sesame works great!) until the desired effect is achieved. By removing tofu from the fryer at the right time, you end up with a delicious piece of fried tofu that takes the shape of a fried ball. After cooling, the excess air will find its way out leaving behind the perfect piece of gold brown and delicious tofu.
One of the strong points of tofu is how good it as at absorbing flavors of other foods. Because of this, fried tofu takes on many exciting flavors from the frying process. You can actually taste the difference from a high quality frying oil so don’t go cheap and don’t be afraid to play with different types of oil such as olive, vegetable, sesame, etc as they all result in different tasting tofu.
Fried tofu is not normally called for in tofu recipes though there are several recipes out there to help you create your own. If you decide to make your own, stay away from soft tofu as it will normally fall apart in the fryer and I’d also recommend avoiding any sweet tofu as the sweet taste normally doesn’t go well with friend food (for me at least!) – Keep in mind that when selecting your tofu to deep fry, your normally best off looking for the words “firm” or “hard” on the packaging and purchasing a high quality oil to along with it. During the frying process, some recipe’s call for spices and herbs so don’t be afraid to mix things up!
Fried tofu remains a protein rich food, however the act of frying can increase the calories and fat so enjoy this delicious treat in moderation.