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?
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.
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.