Crispy Fried Tofu

This fried tofu is the simplest thing in the world to make!

When I was growing up this was a very common dish in my house. My Mom would make this super-simple fried tofu at least twice a week as a snack, an appetizer, or a side dish in a larger Asian-style meal. When I visit my mother in Atlanta we eat it at every evening meal. We’ve been eating this same tofu dish for years and years because it is utterly delicious and surprisingly addictive. The mild curd develops unexpected flavors (sweet, a little sour, a little nutty) when fried, and the crisp edges give it textural interest and a nice chew. Dipped in something as simple as soy sauce, maybe with a little fiery chili paste in it, the little soy bean curd pillows are delightfully fun to eat as you pop them in your mouth. When I married Regina I discovered that she too loves this dish, which made me realize anew that fried tofu is ubiquitous in Asia. Fried tofu eclipses class and culture and politics — pretty much everyone who eats it loves it. Certainly my whole family loves it, including my tofu-obsessed father and my eight-year old son Bennet.

Not only is it tasty, but it’s cheap (a pound of tofu is about a buck) and it’s incredibly easy to make, as long as you’re not afraid of frying. And you shouldn’t be intimidated by frying, as long as you are a little careful.

This recipe is simple: cut some tofu and then fry the tofu. Eat the tofu.

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Beverly Soon Tofu (with video!!)

This bubbling cauldron is filled with a delicious tofu potion!

I’m not really the best person to be reviewing Korean restaurants as I’m not Korean, have never been there, have never dated any Korean girls (for more than a night or two), and beyond the occasional batch of kimchee or bibimbap have rarely cooked it. Perhaps I should have solicited the advice of my pal and K-town expert Mattatouille, but time was pressing and my father needed, nay demaded, tofu. My Dad had expressed interest in the now-defunct Tofu Villa in West LA, and the only similar restaurant we (Regina and I) could think of was Beverly Soon Tofu in Koreatown. Maybe Matt could have steered us to some new, stellar, unheralded place, but BST is an old standby. A couple of decades ago BST introduced Los Angelenos to this particular subset of Korean comfort cuisine, embodied by the much-loved soon dubu jjiagae (soft tofu stew). Now I may not have an encyclopediac knowledge of Korean food and I have nothing to add about the authenticity of flavor or food preparation at Beverly Soon Tofu; however, I know a good restaurant when I eat at one. And Beverly Soon is a good one. This stalwart K-town favorite is as good as ever.

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