Crispy Tofu with Minced Chicken

To cut the long story short, this is THE RECIPE but if you are in the mood, here is the story.

On a particularly lazy afternoon, I found a pack of silken tofu in the fridge and just couldn’t remember which recipe I bought it for. I usually consult a few of a favorite cook books on Saturday morning, pick out 3-4 recipes and do grocery shopping with a shopping list compiled from the menu for the week. This strategy does cut down on the amount of food which goes to waste, except occasions like this when I just can’t remember what the item was intended for…

It’s not me, I blame it on the lingering pregnancy brain. Oh well the tofu still needed to be cooked but every recipe in my trusty cookbooks required at least another ingredient I didn’t have and I didn’t feel like going for a grocery run with Miss Clarey just for 1 ingredient. (My life is full of BIG problems isn’t it?). Anyway thanks to my laziness, I came up with this recipe, with some inspiration from Harumi Kurihara’s Tofu with a Spicy Minced Meat Sauce Recipe.

Ingredients

  • 1 block soft/silken tofu
  • About 3 tbsp corn starch for dusting
  • 3 oz ground chicken breast
  • 1¼ cup dashi stock (or 1 tsp dashi instant powder with 1¼ cup water)
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce (preferably koikuchi)
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tbsp sake
  • 2 tbsp mirin
  • 2 cloves garkic
  • ½ oz fresh ginger, peeled
  • 1 tbsp corn starch mixed with 1 tbsp water
  • 2 scallions, finely sliced – for ganishing
  • 1 tsp white sesame seeds (roasted) – for ganishing
  • 1 red cayene or fresno pepper, finely sliced – for ganishing
  • peanut oil or other oil with high smoke point for deep frying
  • 1 tbsp sesame oil
  • 1 tbsp canola oil or other vegetable oil

Not all silken tofu are created equal. Some are so soft I can never get them out of their package in one piece, let alone dusting them in corn starch and deep frying them. After some failures with silken tofu, my preferred brand is Azumaya.

Method

I actually had homemade dashi made from kombu and freshly shaved katsuobushi because cH made extra dashi that weekend. Yipee, I love homemade dashi but am too lazy to make it myself. So I combined the precious dashi, soy sauce sugar sake and mirin in a bowl , finely chop the garlic and ginger AND even managed to drain and wrap the tofu in paper towels before Clarey woke up.

The cayenne is from my garden!

The cayenne was from my garden!

After she was fed and happy, I heated the canola oil over medium-high in a saute pan and fried the garlic and ginger for about 1 minute, followed by the ground chicken. While the chicken was browning, I drizzled in the sesame oil, working the oil into the lean ground chicken. I would probably skip the sesame oil if I had ground chicken thigh meat, but I didn’t…

When the chicken was browned, the dashi mixture goes into the pan and as left to simmer over low heat for 15 minutes.

A previous attempt to deep fry a whole block of silken tofu for another recipe didn’t work so well, so this time I cut the block of tofu into 4, dusted each piece in cornstarch and deep fried each block in peanut oil heated to 375 °F separately.

phew, at least they still looked decent

phew, at least they still looked decent

Into the pan goes the cornstarch mixture to thicken things up. After about 30 seconds of stirring, the sauce thicken enough to coat the back of the spoon so I took the pan off the heat and poured the chicken mixture over the tofu and sprinkled with the scallion, cayenne and sesame seeds.

cropped-img_20130911_204628.jpg

Rice please!

FINAL RECIPE (or just the recipe in this case, since I was happy with my first attempt)

  • 1 block soft/silken tofu, drained and wrapped in paper towels for at least 10 minutes
  • About 3 tbsp corn starch for dusting
  • 3 oz ground chicken breast
  • 1¼ cup dashi stock (or 1 tsp dashi instant powder with 1¼ cup water)
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce (preferably koikuchi)
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tbsp sake
  • 2 tbsp mirin
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • ½ oz fresh ginger, peeled
  • 1 tbsp corn starch mixed with 1 tbsp water
  • 2 scallions, finely sliced – for ganishing
  • 1 tsp white sesame seeds (roasted) – for ganishing
  • 1 red cayene or fresno pepper, finely sliced – for ganishing
  • peanut oil or other oil with high smoke point for deep frying
  • 1 tbsp sesame oil
  • 1 tbsp canola oil or other vegetable oil
  1. Drain the silken tofu and wrap in at least 3 layers of paper towels.
  2. Finely chop the ginger and garlic.
  3. In a small bowl, mix the dashi, soy sauce, mirin, sake and sugar.
  4. Heat the 1 tbsp canola/vegetable oil in a saute pan over medium high heat, brown the garlic and ginger for 1 minute.
  5. Brown the ground chicken while folding in the sesame oil.
  6. Add in the dashi mixture and allow to simmer over low heat for 15 minutes.
  7. Meanwhile, heat about 1 inch of oil to 375 °F in a small sauce pan. Cut the drained tofu into 4 pieces and coat each piece in cornstarch just right before lowering into the oil . Fry each piece separately till lightly browned, about 2 minutes. Allow to drain on a plate lined with paper towels.
  8. Add the cornstarch to the dashi-chicken mixture and stir for about 30 seconds till the sauce is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon.
  9. Pour the sauce over the tofu (remove the paper towels first!) and garnish with the sliced scallions, chilies and sesame seeds.
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