Tempura-battered Golden Tofu

The husband has become obsessed with golden tofu appetizers at his favorite Asian restaurants. One of his favorites is tempura-battered. They cut it in much larger chunks, which means you have to wait for it to cool and sometimes the chunks aren’t bite sized.

Cutting the pieces smaller also makes it easier to do at home if you lack a deep fryer.

This is easy, just slightly messy, and OMG delicious.

What you’ll need:

  • green onions (optional)
  • high-smoke point oil (I used grapeseed)
  • extra firm tofu
  • tempura batter
  • tempura dipping sauce (optional)
  • other dipping sauce (optional)

Take your extra-firm tofu (Whole Foods has it for around $2 a block, so this isn’t an expensive appetizer and it could also be used over noodles with maybe some tempura-battered veggies like sweet potato. Mmm… sweet potato.) and cut it up into thin squares or triangles (or rectangles or flowers, whatever). By thin, I mean, just thick enough to pick up without it falling apart, so maybe a quarter-inch. (If you drain the tofu for about a half hour, this will be easier.) You want it to be bite-sized and you want to be able to “deep-fry” it in a small skillet or sauce pan without using too much oil.

Dump some tempura batter on a plate and dip the tofu in it. You don’t need anything extra to get it to stick because the moisture in the tofu sticks to the batter readily (especially if you haven’t drained it). Put it to the side on another plate or cutting board.

Get your oil good and hot, toss in the onions if you desire, or even some hot chili oil if you like. This is just for flavor so it’s totally optional.

Slide your tofu in on one side. Cover for about a minute. If it doesn’t all fit, that’s fine, just repeat this step until you’re done.

Use a spatula, chopsticks, etc. to flip your little tofu chunks. This is why it’s key that they not be so thin they fall apart when handled.

Cook about another minute or two.

Scoop or pick them out (with your spatula or chopsticks) and plate. You can drain them on a paper towel or napkin if you want, but the grapeseed oil and tempura are light enough that they didn’t seem too greasy.

Serve with your choice of dipping sauces. The husband likes a sweet and tangy sauce; our friend likes duck sauce. Tempura dipping sauce (available at many grocery stores and Asian markets), soy sauce, hot sauce, teriyaki… whatever makes you happy, including skipping the sauce altogether.