Thursday, February 28, 2008

Taiwanese Popcorn Tofu

This is my vegetarian take on Taiwanese popcorn chicken, the kind of snack you get at tea houses such as Pa Pa Walk - San Gabriel, Tea Station - Alhambra, and 85 Degrees C Tea House - San Gabriel. After making Chicken Karaage (Japanese Fried Chicken), I realized that the batter was reminiscent of popcorn chicken and mentally filed it away for future recipe experimentation.

The result, except for the very square shape, looked and tasted pretty good. What do you think?


Popcorn Tofu



 Taiwanese Popcorn Tofu

For 2 to 4 servings, you'll need:

1 16-oz block of soft tofu, or firm tofu if you wish
3/4 cup cornstarch
1 tsp Chinese 5-spice powder
1/2 tsp chili powder or paprika
1/2 tsp salt
Oil for deep-frying

Optional: Basil leaves for frying. Additional Chinese 5-spice powder and chili powder for sprinkling over fried popcorn tofu.

Mix 3/4 cup cornstarch, 1 tsp Chinese 5-spice powder, 1/2 tsp chili powder, and 1/2 tsp salt in a shallow bowl. Set aside.

Blocks of tofu are usually sold in liquid. Drain. Then lightly press paper towels on top and bottom to absorb excess moisture. Cut into 1 1/2-inch blocks.

Then using your hands, gently press tofu into the cornstarch mixture, making sure each side is covered. Set the battered tofu aside. By the time you get to the last tofu cubes in the batch, the first ones will have absorbed some of the batter. Repeat coating with cornstarch. You'll need about three coatings of the cornstarch mixture. Don't worry if the cornstarch forms little lumps, keeping pressing. The unevenness is how the popcorn chicken looks like at the tea shops too. Add more cornstarch if needed.

In a wok on medium heat, deep-fry popcorn tofu until golden. You can also deep-fry basil leaves if you wish.

When all the popcorn tofu has been fried, taste, and sprinkle additional Chinese 5-spice powder or chili powder if you wish.

Enjoy!

Similar recipes:
Chicken Fingers
Chicken Karaage (Japanese Fried Chicken)
Dau Hu Chien (Vietnamese Fried Tofu)
Taiwanese Popcorn Chicken

*****
1 year ago today, pretty ribbons and a Banana, Nutella, and Peanut Butter Sandwich.

15 comments:

  1. oh wow, these tofu r deep fried to perfection.

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  2. I'm starting to wonder if there's really such a Taiwanese snack. They only have stinky tofu here. No once-you-pop, you-cannot-stop-kind of popcorn tofu!

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  3. There's something irresistible about deep fried foods - this looks fab, WC :-)

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  4. I think I've had this, your fried tofu is making me hungry!

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  5. Ooh this looks delicious! I love fried basil! I'm definitely making this once I conquer my fear of deep frying. :)

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  6. I love this dish,
    Especially the fried basil, some people doesn't like the taste but I just can't resist it at all,
    Try eating the tofu with Thai chili sauce, it's awesome!

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  7. This is a great dish...and you even fried basil with it! OMG! Great minds think alike, we do the same thing with basil and other herbs! You have such an amazing and extensive Viet repertoire , that's why we mentioned you in our next video! Shhh! It's a secret! We couldn't wait to tell you first! :)

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  8. I like the square shape! But maybe that's because I myself am a square.

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  9. This looks and sounds like a snack I wouldn't be able to get enough of. I'll be trying this out sometime soon. Thanks for posting the recipe!

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  10. I've had this before but always wondering how to make it. I'll have to remember this recipe the next time I try my hand at deep frying.

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  11. I love that you showcase every culture in your diverse recipes. You are my fave all-stop-shop for recipes. Yum, now off to get some Taiwanese food!

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  12. Fried basil leaves? are those for garnish or eating?

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  13. CP,
    Heh. Yeah, my first Taiwanese recipe.

    Daphne,
    I did this in my cast iron pan. It helps.

    Tigerfishy,
    You don't wanna snack on stinky tofu? :P

    Nikki,
    I gotta hold off on fried foods lately. Sore throat. :(

    Foodhoe,
    You mean I didn't invent this? :P

    Amy,
    I love fried basil too. What's there to be scared of with deep-frying?

    Jessy,
    Thanks!

    Cindy,
    I like eating it with sweet and sour sauce. Almost the same thing. :)

    WoRC,
    Thanks for the mention! These don't look nearly as fab as your tofu fries.

    Marvin,
    Har, har. You are not a square!

    Liz,
    You're welcome!

    Christine,
    Hmm, I wonder where you ate it? Was the tofu seasoned?

    PE,
    Nah, It's just a compilation of what I eat.

    W&S,
    Both. You've never eaten fried basil? They're delicious.

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