You’ve seen tofu at restaurants. You may have already eaten tofu yourself. Tofu is just about everywhere these days. Tofu is a soy product that is one of the easiest and healthiest food to cook. It’s packed with protein and has such a mild flavor that you can influence it’s flavor profile however you want. If you want to make restaurant-quality (a.k.a. really tasty) crispy tofu at home, there are a few steps you need to take.
1. Purchase extra-firm tofu
Slice open the package and cut the tofu into thick rectangles or cubes. Lay each piece on a dish towel or layers of paper towels, then place another dish towel or paper towels on top of the tofu. Set a cookie sheet on top to squeeze some of the moisture out. You shouldn’t have to go to extremes here, because you purchased extra-firm tofu.
2. Make the surface of your tofu as dry as possible
Like anything you cook in hot oil, you want to make sure you’re not adding any unwanted moisture to the pan. Dry, dry, dry your tofu. Wipe it dry, or better yet toss your tofu in corn starch. I’ve cooked tofu both ways and to me the only difference between the two are that adding corn starch to your tofu prevents dangerous and unpleasant sputtering.
3. Use a cast-iron skillet to pan fry your tofu
If you want crispy tofu, you really need a pan that has an evenly heated surface area. For me, that is my seasoned cast-iron skillet. Add a layer of oil, heat it up, and gently drop your tofu in. Fry all sides of the tofu until golden brown and crispy.
Boom! Extra crispy tofu. Just remember, if you plan to use your tofu in a stir-fry or with something saucy, set the tofu aside first. Then cook all of the remaining ingredients and add the tofu back in at the last minute so it remains crispy as long as possible.
Cut the tofu into 1/2-inch thick rectangles and pat dry with a kitchen towel or paper towel. Toss the tofu in cornstarch until coated. Heat oil in a skillet over medium to medium-high heat, until the oil is just shimmering. Carefully place the tofu pieces into the oil. Lightly fry the tofu until golden brown on one side, then flip with a slotted spatula. Once golden brown on both sides, drain the tofu on a paper towel and set aside. Lower the heat of the pan to low and wait a few minutes.
In the same oil, add the onions. Fry lightly until the onions turn soft and transparent. Take care not to burn them by maintaining the heat at low to medium-low. Add the garlic and cook for another minute, stirring to prevent burning.
Add the turmeric, coriander, chilli, salt, and tamarind paste and fry for about a minute. Then add the chopped tomatoes, tomato paste, sri racha (if using), beans and edamame and cook until the tomatoes break down and the oil separates from the sauce, about 5 minutes. Taste the beans, the beans should be more than half cooked at this stage. Taste the sauce and adjust seasoning as needed.
Finally add the fried tofu and mix well. Simmer for a minute to reheat the tofu, remove from the heat, garnish wtih green onions and serve warm with rice or rice noodles.