Korean Fried Tofu & Creamy Ginger Slaw

Sometimes, and by sometimes I mean all of the time, a girl just has to have take out. Unless of course she is visiting several small towns in an eastern European country–and she’s vegan–then she just has to get in the kitchen and make it herself. Or himself.

This recipe, was all me, inspired by a delicious meal I had in Koreatown when I lived in Los Angeles.

Back then I ate…everything. Literally. I had only been working as a freelancer for a year or so, nose to the grind while I drummed up writing work. Any and all kinds of work. During this time I struck up a friendship with a Korean woman named Soo (pronounced like: Sue) and she introduced me to this amazing place in Koreatown. This restaurant knew customer service, let me tell you! There were about a dozen little glass dishes filled with kimchi and a variety of other vegetables and meats and I was delighted! Everything was so new and delicious and exciting and by the end of that two hour lunch, I had fallen in love with yet another style of Asian cuisine.

Longing for a similar, but vegan, meal in a place where there’s decent Chinese is about as hollow a wish as one can make, but I have a working kitchen and a pretty impressive spice rack so…I went to town.

And created…Korean Fried Tofu & Creamy Ginger Slaw!

The important thing about this recipe is to spice it how you like it. I like mine spicy and even though the hubs doesn’t, I like to whip up two batches of sauce just in case. 🙂

Let’s start with the tofu, which I pressed for about 10 minutes while I chopped all the veggies for the slaw. I’m not certain my way is the right way (it is), but I wrap the tofu in a paper towel and put something heavy on it, like my salt mill or jar of jalapenos. Then I used a variety of Asian or Asian inspired spices–Korean chili flakes, cayenne pepper, garam masala, ginger, lemongrass–along with soy sauce as a marinade. Since I shallow fried the tofu, I coated it with a flour-corn starch blend because I wanted it extra crispy before tossing it into the sauce.

While the tofu was crisping up in a skillet, I got to work on the slaw, which included:

Cucumber

Napa cabbage

Scallions

Ginger (fresh, raw)

Red & yellow bell pepper

Celery (very thinly sliced)

Mint

I squeeze half a lemon over the top while I made the slaw and massaged it in. The slaw sauce was made of vegan yogurt, sriracha, spicy brown mustard, 2 tsp. coconut sugar, lime juice, cumin and freshly grated garlic & ginger. I really wanted to make it a kimchi slaw but my new spices are on their way!

Toss and set aside.

Give the tofu about 5 to 7 minutes on each side and drain any excess oil. If you go easy on the oil there shouldn’t be much to drain, but you don’t want all the sauce sliding off the tofu!

For this sauce, I used Hoisin, canned peaches because I couldn’t find any fresh ones, dark soy sauce, Sriracha, chili flakes and black pepper. Toss the tofu in the sauce and plate, then sprinkle with sesame seeds if you like.

The thing I love most about this dish is that the fried tofu lets you indulge in something that feels extremely decadent but the crunchy fresh slaw gives you heaps of fresh veggies to discount any guilt you feel. But don’t feel guilty, enjoy it and promise to do better tomorrow!

Whatcha think?

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