Like Mama Made

Much of Bakespite was borne from my attempts to bring flavors from the past to life. Like Remy’s ratatouille that brings the evil Anton Ego to tears, I first tried to replicate the divine chocolate chocolate chip cherry muffins that my mother-in-law baked this summer in Michigan’s prime cherry season. This was followed by myriad attempts to make Martha’s rolls deliciously edible rather than dead weight worthy of well, the trash. My last baking-like-mom attempt was so successful on the first try, I made them 3 times in 24 hours. Popovers! Light, airy, cream-puff like without the cream. Yum. One of the best butter-deliverance devices ever.

Today, I decided protein should be added to our diet (see Jeremy’s post on Cheesecake and our death match against the weight of the universe.) Enter my mother’s fried tofu with scallions. Over and over during my childhod, I made fried tofu for dinner. It was a weekly staple. I would make the jasmine rice and while it was cooking, fire up some oil and fry tofu. Somehow, er, 19 years have passed and the tofu I’ve made resembles the first sets of rolls: dead weight. Deceivingly crispy and golden on the outside, but so hard, they are inedible. Today, I tried a new tofu called Wild Wood; a packaged tofu loaf that boasts high protein and extra firmness. A raw taste confirmed both.

Finally the results I’ve been waiting for: dry the tofu carefully, fire up the oil on high, drop in the tofu and coat with oil before letting fry un-touched for 2-3 minutes (until golden on the bottom). Flip with chopsticks or a slotted spoon. The tofu is done when it is evenly golden and it passes the hollow tap test. This is exactly as it sounds: tap the tofu with chopsticks and listen for that beautifully hollow sound that alerts you to the tofu’s crispy outside and airy interior.  The secret is the right type of tofu and the correct frying temperature.  If you buy most of the tofu in the white plastic containers, expect disappointment.  Extra firm.  High heat.

For an extra taste of homemade Vietnamese:

Chop scallions very thinly and after the tofu has finished crisping, add the scallions into a ladle and dip into the oil so it sizzles.  Drain with the slotted spoon and drop into a dipping bowl with approximately two tablespoons of Nuoc Mam (fish sauce).  Let soak and then pour over the tofu to serve.

Perfection. Thanks moms!