Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Sriracha Crispy Tofu with Taiwanese Pickled Cabbage | 醬香脆皮豆腐配台式高麗泡菜

Nearly half a year since my last visit to Taiwan, I feel a sudden pang of craving for the island's renowned street food. Topping the long list of must-haves when food-crawling through Taipei's legendary night markets is the "stinky tofu" - deep-fried, fermented bean curd whose mouthwatering, funky stench seduces even from streets away. In my opinion, the stinkier the tofu the better - in which case Hong Kong's own version may sometimes prevail - yet, its scarcity and inflated prices these days make them more of a distant memory.

A major difference between the two is the additional accompaniment of pickled cabbage typically served alongside stinky tofu in Taiwan. Sweet and mildly sharp with notes of garlic and chili, the pickled vegetables give a refreshing crunch that not only balances out the lip-burning sensation of tofu fresh off the fryer and the heat of chili sauce, but also relieves the greasiness (and guilt). The pairing is so perfect I sometimes wonder if one can equally enjoy stinky tofu without pickled cabbage. Ditto that with any deep fried foods, for that matter.

Drawing inspiration from the popular Taiwanese street snack, the following recipe is a simple take on crispy tofu shallow-fried and then dressed in a sticky sweet and spicy Sriracha sauce and served with crunchy pickled cabbage. Both firm and extra-firm tofu would suit the dish brilliantly, although the former may lend even more of a silky texture underneath the crispy, golden shell. For the best results, it is essential to press and drain the tofu to extract as much liquid as possible. It may sound tedious, but I promise it is easy and will worth every effort.

Warning: this is a jar of vegetables you will NOT want to put down!
The crunchy Taiwanese pickled cabbage - perhaps as important as the tofu itself - can be made ahead of time and stored in the refrigerator for up to weeks. With so few ingredients, it is so simple and so addictive it can stand on its own as a snack throughout the day or even make a great aperitif. My first batch was gone within just a couple of days!

What you'll need...
Taiwanese Pickled Cabbage
1 small head cabbage
1 tablespoon coarse salt
1 cup rice vinegar*
3/4 cup white sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 bird's eye chili, thinly sliced
1 small carrot, shredded or thinly sliced

Note: Alternatively, use white distilled vinegar or apple cider vinegar, or a combination of both.

Sriracha Glaze
2 tablespoon water
3 tablespoon Sriracha (or to taste)
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon yellow bean sauce or miso paste
1 tablespoon white sugar
1 teaspoon soy sauce

Crispy Tofu
1 block (450 g) firm or extra-firm tofu
1/3 cup cornstarch
Pinch of white pepper and salt
2 tablespoon oil for shallow frying

Taiwanese Pickled Cabbage
1. Remove and discard the outer layers of the cabbage. Working your way down to the core, peel and roughly tear each layer of leaves into bite-sized pieces. Place in large bowl or zip lock bag and sprinkle evenly with coarse salt and give the contents a good toss. Set aside for one hour, giving it a stir or shake every 20 minutes or so.

2. In a saucepan, combine vinegar, sugar, and salt on medium heat and stir until sugar dissolves. Turn heat off. Tip in shredded carrots, chili, and minced garlic and set aside to cool.

3. Drain the cabbage and rinse in running water to remove salt. Press leaves gently and drain as much water as possible. Place leaves into a large pickling jar, pour in vinegar mixture and ensure that the cabbage is completely submerged. Otherwise, top up with more vinegar. Store in refrigerator and the pickled cabbage will be ready in as soon as just half a day!
Sriracha Glaze
In a small saucepan, combine all ingredients and bring to a simmer, stirring until sugar dissolves. Taste and adjust seasoning.

Crispy Tofu
1. Press and drain: on a plate, sandwich tofu block in between layers of paper towels and top with another plate. Weigh it down with heavy cans or books for at least 30 minutes. Drain and pat dry. Cut into chunky cubes.

2.  In a medium bowl, whisk together cornstarch, white pepper and salt. Add tofu cubes and toss well to coat, shaking off any excess. Heat oil in pan and fry the tofu cubes until all sides are golden and crispy, about 4 mins each side. Drain tofu on paper towels.

3. On a plate, spoon Sriracha glaze over crispy tofu and top with a heap of pickled cabbage. Enjoy hot! 

世界杯深宵夜市小食!每次遠赴台灣夜市,總是鍾情香氣撲鼻、熱辣辣的臭豆腐,拌上香辣醬和清甜爽脆的高麗泡菜,實在味力無法擋!來不及飛台灣,不如自家製 — 不「臭臭」的脆皮豆腐同簡易台式泡菜!

椰菜                    1 小顆(約 600 克)
粗鹽                    1 湯匙
糯米醋               250 毫升(可用白醋或蘋果醋)
砂糖                    170 克
                       1/4 茶匙
蒜瓣                    4 瓣(剁碎)
指天椒                1 隻(切片)
甘筍                    1 小條(刨絲或切薄片)

1. 椰菜除去外層較髒的葉子,內層的葉子撕成片狀,均勻撒上粗鹽,靜置 10 分鐘後用手拌勻,其後每 15-20 分鐘輕輕翻動一次,待葉子出水及微軟後即可。椰菜最多鹽醃一小時,以保其爽脆和避免過鹹。
2. 靜置椰菜同時,把醋和砂糖煮滾,待砂糖溶化後熄火。加入甘筍絲、蒜末和辣椒放涼備用。
3. 鹽醃過的椰菜用涼開水沖洗一遍,瀝乾水分。放入玻璃容器中,再倒入糖醋,蓋上蓋子,放入冰箱半天以上既可食用。


開水                      2 湯匙
是拉差辣椒醬    3 湯匙(份量隨個人辣度喜好)
蒜瓣                      3 瓣(剁碎)
豆醬味噌         1 湯匙
砂糖                     1 湯匙
生抽                     1 茶匙

1. 把所有醬汁材料拌勻煮溶,再作適當調味。   

硬豆腐                 1 磚(約 450 克)
生粉                     40 克
白胡椒       適量
煮食油                2 湯匙

1. 豆腐先加壓出水:豆腐用吸水紙包著放在碟中,上方再蓋上盤子,以重物(如罐頭)加壓 30 分鐘或以上,內部水分便會流出。出水後用吸水紙抹乾豆腐,並切成大小一致的小塊。
2. 生粉、白胡椒和鹽拌勻。豆腐粒沾粉後下鍋煎炸至金黃色,每邊約四分鐘。盛起後用吸水紙吸取多餘油分。
3. 脆皮豆腐上淋上是拉差甜辣醬,再配上一堆爽甜高麗泡菜,即成!

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