I’m not sure this is even a recipe. It feels a bit like cheating, as there is hardly any cooking. You could even not bother with the garlic and still end up with a great meal. One word of warning; do NOT use ready bought fried shallots! They are mostly really nasty tasting stuff and will destroy your wonderful creation. I can’t remember when I first ate this cold tofu, but we have been in love ever since. The juxtaposition of the smooth, chilled creamy tofu and the umami oomph of the sauce and crisp shallots and the fresh zing of the spring onion just makes your taste buds dance.
Cold Silken Tofu
For the crisp stuff:
- 5 big shallots, sliced medium fine
- 5 big garlic cloves, sliced fine
- 3 Tbsp canola oil
The secret of perfect crisp fried shallots and garlic is in the thickness of the slicing and the temperature of the oil. Shallots want to be slightly thicker than you might think, but garlic wants to be fine and both want an oil that is at a fairly low temperature. It takes me a good 15 minutes to fry shallots and then another ten to fry the garlic and here is why: The inside of the shallots and garlic need to be dry before the outside starts to brown. Otherwise the moisture of the inside will soften the crisp outside after you have removed it from the oil. So what you want is a slow and steady frying. Annoyingly slow is just right.
For the sauce:
- 2 Tbsp soya sauce
- 1 Tbsp oyster sauce
- 1 tsp sesame oil
- ½ tsp brown sugar
- 2 Tbsp shallot garlic oil (from the recipe above)
Just mix all the ingredients together and whisk them to an emulsion just before serving.
To finish the dish:
- 1 silken tofu
- 1-2 spring onions, finely sliced (I like to use the dark green tops)
If you have ever wondered how to get the super soft, silken tofu out of its box without breaking bits off, stay with me. Now I’m not sure how hygienic this method is, but it sure works! Peel the top foil off and make sure to get all the bits around the edges completely cut off, or you will be scratching marks into your tofu. Take two sheets of paper kitchen towel, fold them up to fit the open side of the tofu, place them directly on the tofu, top with a and a small plate or chopping board and turn over. Leave to drain for about ten minutes.
Flip the tofu over again, remove the paper (and the plate, of course) and reverse the tofu on your serving dish. Note that your tofu is still in its box. Now comes the trick; Cut a small corner off the box and gently blow into this. You will feel the box coming loose from the tofu immediately. Aim achieved. If you are bacteria phobic, you could fit a small rubber balloon to the hole and pump it, I guess.
Just before serving, quickly whisk the sauce back to an emulsion, pour your sauce over, top with the crispy stuff and with the spring onion. Your tofu is ready!
Fried dried prawns and garlic, dried Chinese mushrooms soaked and fried with ginger, pickled radish, fried salted fish, black beans and ginger, crisp fried krill or ikan bilis, there is no limit to the variations. You may have noticed the thread that runs through it all; there is always a crisp element!