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MICHAEL SYMON Fried Tofu with Jicama Slaw

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A sweet and spicy tofu recipe.

1 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
2 shallots (peeled, thinly sliced)
2 pieces star anise
1 cinnamon stick
1 dried hot thai red chili
1/4 cup fish sauce
canola or peanut oil (for frying)
1 pound firm tofu (sliced in half widthwise, sliced 1/2-inch thick, drained)
1 cup cornstarch
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper (to taste)
1/4 cup lime juice
1/4 cup rice vinegar
3 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
1 cup jicama (peeled, julienned)
1 cup daikon (peeled, julienned)
1 cup carrot (peeled, julienned)
1/3 cup cilantro (torn)
1/3 cup mint (torn)
1/2 cup roasted salted peanuts (roughly chopped)
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper (to taste)

For the Caramel Fish Sauce: In a medium saucepan over high heat, add the sugar and water, and bring to a boil without stirring. Swirl the pot and cook until it turns a deep amber color, about 10-12 minutes. Remove from heat and add the shallots, star anise, cinnamon, dried chili, and fish sauce, whisking constantly to combine. Allow the sauce to cool completely. Strain the sauce through a fine mesh sieve and discard the spices.
For the Tofu: On a cutting board, place the slices of tofu and top with paper towels. Place a dish on top, letting some of the moisture seep out.
In a large saute pan over medium-high heat, add 1/2-inch of oil. In a small baking dish, add the cornstarch and season with salt and pepper. Season the tofu with salt and pepper and dredge the tofu in the cornstarch mixture, shaking off any excess. Add the tofu to the pan in a single layer, and cook until golden brown and crisp on both sides. Remove to a platter.
For the Jicama Slaw: In a large bowl, add the lime juice, rice vinegar, and sesame oil, and whisk to combine. Season with salt and pepper. Add the jicama, daikon, carrots, cilantro, mint, and peanuts, and toss to coat.
To Assemble: On a platter, place the tofu slices and serve with the slaw on the side. Top the tofu with the caramel fish sauce and use the remaining sauce on the side for dipping.
Tip: Avoid using a spatula or whisk to swirl the caramel, just move the pan in a circular motion to allow the sugar to dissolve and caramelize.

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