“Silky golden nuggets with a spicy surprise!”
Don’t you just love it when a wrong turn ends up being right, when a mistake turns into an unexpected success, when a kitchen misadventure cooks up a new favorite? That’s what happened the other night – an attempt to save a blooper turned up a surprising appetizer that barely made it to the dinner table as it passed the gauntlet of taste-testers. Though the same taste-testers will gleefully tell you that the wrong turns and mistakes happen with me frequently enough!
Just last week, after a satisfying Ethiopian lunch of injera (spongy Ethiopian flatbread-cum-utensil) with doro wot (tender chicken with ginger, garlic and pepper), key wot (beef and ginger in exotic spices) and beef kitfo (minced raw beef deeply marinated with chilli, spices and salt), we chose to walk off the lethargy that was setting in. We were in an unfamiliar neighborhood, and not knowing where to go, we randomly chose a heading. We went by empty store after empty store, ranging from recent abandonment to current construction. That is, until we came to the end of the block. Tucked away in the corner is a bustling dive shop with a hive of activity, a full range of diving equipment, all-levels and types of trips and lessons, with excellent customer reviews! This was the highlight of our walk – a gem of a find. Had we not continued on what seemed like a boring route, we would never have found the store. We had been looking for just a store like this – inviting, warm with all-encompassing services.
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~ TAIWAN STREET FOOD SERIES – Part 1: TAIWANESE POPCORN CHICKEN~
On this night, I had started off trying to pan-fry tofu to a crispy golden brown. Well….that didn’t turn out too well. Trying to salvage the remaining tofu I had, I chose to forgo the flour and quickly pan-fry them instead. One of the best decisions that night. They turned out a light golden color, slightly firm on the outside, silky smooth on the inside. Topped with a sprinkling of pepper and green chilli, the nuggets popped with a spicy kick in the mouth.
And so it’s confirmed. This appetizer/side dish will make it to our regular dining repertoire. Better yet, there is virtually no preparation required except to seed and chop up chillis.
- 1 block firm tofu
- 1 green or red chilli, seeds removed & finely chopped
- 1 egg, beaten with a pinch of salt
- Pepper to taste
- Carefully remove tofu from packaging. Place it between pieces of kitchen towels. Very gently apply pressure to squeeze the liquid out, repeating till tofu is fairly dry. Alternatively, place the tofu between pieces of kitchen towels, and put a weighted, flat item on top for a few minutes (Eg. heavy pot or flat pan/plate with a large can on it).
- Heat 3 Tbsp oil in a deep pan.
- When the oil is shimmering, lower to medium heat and carefully put tofu into the pan in a single layer. Do not overcrowd as it will lower the temperature of the oil too much. You want the oil to remain very hot.
- Using tongs or spatula, turn the tofu after about 15-20 seconds. The cooked side should have a slight golden coloring. For a deeper color, turn the tofu a few seconds later. Repeat till all sides are golden. Note that the tofu will not turn a deep brown as there is no flour here.
- Add egg and allow it to set, about 10 seconds. Quickly turn a few times to mix eggs and tofu together.
- Remove tofu and drain on absorbent paper on a rack.
- Sprinkle with a dash of pepper and green chillies and serve.
Also try these other easy Tofu ideas:
- Okra and Tofu
- Steamed Tofu with Ground Pork and Gogi Berries
- Mapo Tofu 麻婆豆腐 – This is an old recipe from my early days in the kitchen. An updated recipe is on its way…. don’t miss it! Sign up and subscribe to my newsletter!