A new sushi place opened near my house, Maru, extending a modernized, chicness to the neighborhood. A friend suggested that I revel in a “pillow of goodness,” aka tofu from the vegetarian hibachi grill and well, it was clearly, quite good! The first bite presented a crisp, golden texture on the outside, followed by a fluffy center that melted in my mouth. The tofu was drizzled in a sweet sauce, brandished with sesame seeds. It was a dish that had me asking, how? What made the tofu so perfect! Crisp and springy?!!!
I myself have never really cooked with tofu. I know it is healthy and takes on many uses, textures and forms. After trying the tofu from Maru, I decided that I would try my hand at creating a puffy, pillow of goodness!
In my research I learned a secret, perhaps this is only a secret to me but if not here you are: After pressing the tofu and cutting it into bite-sized cubes, lightly dredge them in cornstarch and saute the tofu separate from the other ingredients. This tactic successfully duplicated the crisp and springy tofu served at the sushi place!
Tofu in Sweet Soy Sauce with Edamame
1 ¾ lb. firm tofu, cut into 1″ cubes
½ cup cornstarch
10 tbsp. unsalted butter
3 tbsp. finely chopped ginger
10 small shallots, thinly sliced
10 cloves garlic, crushed
4 red Thai chiles, stemmed and sliced (you can use less to decrease heat!)
Pinch of coarsely ground black pepper
3 tbsp. kecap manis (sweet soy sauce)
3 tsp. tamari
2 tbsp. sugar
2 bunches of green onions, chopped into 1″ pieces
1 cup edamame (peeled and warm)
Cooked rice, for serving
Heat oil in a cast iron skillet over medium-high heat (you will need enough to saute the tofu about 1 cup or 1/4″ deep in skillet). Dredge the tofu with the cornstarch in a bowl until evenly coated, or sift in a colander. Fry tofu until golden brown all over, about 3 minutes. Drain and set aside; discard the oil, and wipe the skillet clean.
Return the skillet to medium heat with butter. Add shallots, ginger, garlic and chiles; cook until soft, about 15 minutes. Stir in the pinch of black pepper, soy sauces, and sugar. Return the tofu to the skillet; cook, stirring, until warmed through. Stir in scallions or use as garnish; serve over rice and edamame.
**note if you like really crisp tofu then do not return it to the skillet. Instead keep it warm in the oven and serve it atop the rice and edamame then drizzle the shallot, sweet soy sauce mixture atop!