A rant about tofu: tofu is a highly underrated food. I think this is because most people like to think of tofu as a “meat replacement” and therefore attempt to cook it like meat with the expectation that it will taste like meat. The thing is - tofu is not meat and it never will be! Tofu is tofu and it is delicious for what it is, not what people want it to be.
This preparation infuses bite-sized cubes of tofu with a savory seasoning and creates a crispy exterior that are both delicious and distinctly tofu - not trying or pretending to be anything else.
For the marinade
- 1 block of soft tofu
- 1/3 C soy sauce
- 2 T olive oil
- 2 T maple syrup or honey
- 1 lime, juiced
- 2 cloves of garlic, grated
- 1/2 tsp chili flakes
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1/2 C corn starch
- 3/4 C vegetable oil
Remove tofu from packaging and drain any excess water. Handling the tofu very gently, on a cutting board or large plate, wrap the tofu in a clean dish towel and place another heavy plate on top, pressing the tofu slightly and taking care not to crush it. Allow to sit for 20-30 minutes. This will help to remove excess water before marination.
In a shallow dish, combine the ingredients for the marinade, stirring thoroughly to ensure maple syrup is dissolved. Season with salt and pepper. Cut the tofu into bite-sized pieces and immerse in the marinade. Let sit for at least 30 minutes and up to 4 hours, turning once to ensure cubes are fully immersed.
In a shallow dish, sprinkle half of the corn starch to create an even layer. Working in batches, take tofu cubes directly from the marinade, shaking off any excess liquid, and place them into the corn starch. Turn each piece to coat. Continue adding remaining corn starch to the plate as needed.
Meanwhile, in a small saucepot, heat oil over medium heat. Once the temperature reaches 350 degrees F*, begin frying the tofu in batches turning once halfway through cooking until golden brown, about 5-7 minutes total. Remove each piece of tofu to a plate lined with a paper towel. Serve immediately.
*If you don’t have a thermometer, test the oil temperature by putting a small piece of tofu inside - the oil should bubble up pretty violently and the tofu should begin to “dance.” If the oil has only small bubbles with the test piece of tofu, it is still too cool, so take out the test and wait longer for it to heat up.