Tofu has never been on my favourite food list. I can eat it.....but it doesn't give me that blithely bounce in my step or the fireworks in my head or the squint in my eyeballs kind of feeling that a creamy, rich, dark evil chocolate ganache or a stinky, stingy sambal belacan or the outrageous, soluble humps of a Baskin and Robbins would.
It is just simply all-the-way-bland. Say what you may.
But when I saw a picture of these in Divina Pe's beautiful blog Sense and Serendipity I was stunned into a meek silence and it made me swear to make it. My little tastebuds trembled. They did not rest until I had made some.
I now sheepishly pronounce that these golden tofu nuggets are absolutely beyond wonderful. Dunk them into a spicy-salty soy-vinegar bird chillie bejewelled sauce and you may think that you've died and been granted eternity in tofu heaven.
So sharing this recipe is my good deed for the day.
Bonito flakes or katsuabushi sounded Greek/Japanese to me. But I found them quite easily in the Japanese section of Jusco.
They are fish flakes made from dried, fermented and smoked skipjack tuna and are one of the main ingredients of a dashi, a broth that forms the basis of many Japanese soups. Fishy and smelly heaven. Quite like what anchovies or dried shrimps are to the South East Asian palate. Just more refined.
Tell me, how can anything that is slathered in smelly, wispy, fishy flakes and a million sesame seed bits, fried to a golden, feathery, crust on the outside with a wobbly, silky and creamy inside not be good?
But remember....dunk them in thoroughly before you let them slither down your throat. If you still find it bland you need not speak to me ever again and/or you may swear and condemn me to tofu heaven. I'd be happy to oblige.
The recipe by Divina Pe from Sense and Serendipity
The tofu :
1 block semi firm tofu (320 gm)
1/4 cup all purpose flour (I used cornflour)
1/4 cup sesame seeds (or a mixture half and half black and white)
1 cup bonito flakes
2 T rice bran oil or untoasted sesame seed oil
(I used a vegetable cooking oil)
3 T light soy sauce
1 T rice wine vinegar (I used aple cider vinegar)
2 small bird chilies, finely chopped (optional)
1 inch piece fresh ginger, grated
1 green or spring onion, finely sliced
Prepare tofu : Drain the tofu of any liquid. Pat dry with a clean dish cloth or paper towels, pressing down a little with the palm of your hand to make sure the tofu is dry and to remove excess water. Lay on a board and cut into 3/4 or 1 inch cubes. About 8 slices.
Breading the tofu : Place the flour/cornflour into 1 medium bowl. Break and egg into another and beat lightly to mix the white and yolk well and in the last bowl place the combination of bonito flakes and sesame seeds.
Taking one slice of tofu, cover it completely with flour, dip it in the egg and then coat it in the bonito/sesame seed mixture. Place on a plate and do the same for the rest of the sliced tofu.
Frying the tofu : Heat up the oil in a pan on medium high till hot but not smoking. Carefully place the crusted tofu slices in one by one and make sure that they are seperate. Fry for about 2 minutes on each side or until lightly golden. When done remove and drain on kitchen paper.
Make the dipping sauce :
Slice the bird chillies (if using). Place in a small bowl. Add soy sauce and vinegar and mix well. Put in a serving bowl.
Garnish with topping :
Place the ginger paste and sliced spring onions on top of each tofu crust and put on a serving plate.
To serve :
Either let the guests dip the tofu into the dipping sauce or using a teaspoon dribble some sauce over the tofu before eating.