This peppery treat will help naysayers keep an open mind about tofu. The recipe is part of my campaign to rehabilitate tofu’s bland and boring image.
1 lb (500 g) block firm tofu, drained, patted dry
1 tbsp (15 mL) cornstarch
2 tbsp (30 mL) peanut oil
2 tbsp (30 mL) unsalted butter
2 shallots, diced
2 large cloves garlic, pressed or minced
1 tsp (5 mL) each: puréed ginger, chili flakes
2 tbsp (30 mL) each: low-sodium soy sauce, ponzu, mirin
1 tbsp (15 mL) black peppercorns, crushed
2 large green onions (white + green parts), chopped
Cut tofu block into cubes, about 1 x 1 x 1/2 inch (2.5 x 2.5 x 1 cm).
In large bowl, gently toss tofu cubes with cornstarch.
In 12-inch (30 cm) skillet, heat oil on medium-high until shimmery. Add tofu. Cook, turning occasionally with spatula, 5 minutes, or until golden and crisp in spots. Transfer to large plate.
Gently wipe skillet with paper towel, removing oil but leaving any golden-brown bits stuck to bottom. Add butter. Heat on medium-low until melted. Add shallots. Cook, stirring often, 3 to 5 minutes, until browned and softened. Stir in garlic, ginger and chili flakes 30 seconds. Stir in soy sauce, ponzu and mirin, scraping bottom of pan. Stir in pepper. Add tofu. Toss with spatula to coat well. Cook 1 minute, or until hot.
Before serving, garnish with onions.
Makes 4 servings.
How-To: Cut the tofu. Cut block in half horizontally through centre to make 2 rectangles, each about 1 inch (2.5 cm) thick. Cut each rectangle lengthwise into 3 sticks, each about 1 inch (2.5 cm) wide. Cut each stick into about 1/2-inch (1 cm) segments.
Tool Time: The ginger and garlic may be puréed with a kitchen rasp (Microplane). I use a mortar and pestle to grind the peppercorns into a medium powder. If you don’t have one, try a spice grinder.
Shopping Cart: Asian grocery stores and many supermarkets sell ponzu (a citrusy soy sauce) and mirin (Japanese cooking wine).
CREDIT: SUSAN SAMPSON
TESTED IN IMPERIAL