I really like tofu - it's best deep-fried at Japanese restaurants (mmmm, with salt and pepper) - but at home you can make a decent version with a shallow pan, a sharp-edged spatula, and some care. It's nice to marinade it beforehand but it's not absolutely essential. Tonight as a base, I quickly fry up some sesame seeds, thinly-sliced cauliflower and broccoli, and toss in some soaked rice noodles with some soy sauce. Nothing too complicated, so that the sweet and subtle tones of the tofu can come through.
- 350g firm or extra-firm silken tofu block
- 2 tbsp soy sauce
- 2 tbsp rice wine or mirin
- 2 spring onions, very finely chopped
- 1 tsp sugar
Slice the tofu block in half along its longest axis, then again crossways twice so you have eight large-ish flat pieces. Combine the other ingredients in a bowl and whisk until the sugar is dissolved. Put the tofu in a small flat dish and cover with the marinade, then leave for 30 minutes to 2 hours, depending on how much time you have. Prepare anything else you want for the meal in the meantime - e.g. cook rice, slice vegetables.
When you're ready, heat a few tbsp of vegetable or sunflower oil in a heavy-based frying pan - non-stick if you have a very good plastic or wooden spatula, or metal-based if you have only a very sharp metal spatula. Once the oil is hot, gently shake or push off any marinade clinging to the tofu blocks, and add the tofu to the pan, in a single layer. Fry for 4-5 minutes on the top and bottom until golden brown. I emphasise using a good spatula because you want to make sure when you turn it that the fried skin does not separate from the milky body. When the tofu slices are done, remove them to a plate. Reduce the heat and pour the marinade ingredients into the pan. Cook for 3-4 minutes until reduced, and the spring onions soften. Serve the tofu atop your chosen accompaniments, with the thickened marinade poured over.