Sunday, August 7, 2016

Fool-proof Way to Make Your Own Burmese Chickpea Tofu at Home

Yum


When I was eight in Burma, I was ridiculously, seriously, passionately into collecting fridge magnets with cartoon figures. I quietly store those magnets in metal pencil boxes in a little wooden drawer my mom gave me. Being an imaginative kid, I pretend that there is a ring of fire, an army of wizards and a big giant crab protecting my magnets. My brother tried to steal them? Oh please, he had no chance. But one day, I just woke up and decided that I didn’t like them anymore, and gave every single one away to my brother and my cousins. After I had given away, I felt no attachment whatsoever. Damn, my eight-year-old self was such a pro at letting stuffs go. There was no dilemma, no ambivalence. He knew he didn’t want them. He gave away -the end of story. He moved on to find the things he will like. He didn’t know what they are or how they will look like, but he was open-minded for possibilities. More importantly, that kid did not give a crap about what others people think.

Fried burmese chickpea tofu





As I get older, I start to lose that impulsive, imaginative and brave child inside me. I started to get afraid of letting go. What if I couldn’t find anyone better, or a job that pays more? I am comfortable in my little bubble. It is safe. It has my favorite comforter, Netflix subscription and a fridge with Bens and Jerry’s moose-track ice cream. Why would I want to leave it? Sometimes, I am at a point where I would rather be safely caged in routines, than released to roam free.  So, last week, when I turned 25 (cheaper car insurance, woohoo!), I decided that I want to bring back that slightly ADHD child back into my life. I want to once again explore without expectations, be awed by simple things, and be ok with getting hurt.


Burmese fried chickpea tofu


As a tribute to bring back my childhood, I am making my favorite snack as a kid – fried chickpea tofu. I was the kid who ate all his lunch as soon as he got school (no judgment here please. Many people do that ok?). So, during lunchtimes, I used my daily allowance on those fried chickpea tofu wedges. Back in the days, street vendors are not allowed to come into the school compound. But, Burmese people are innate lawyers – the solution was to sell snacks by the school fence so technically, they were never in the school property. I would just wait impatiently as my favorite tofu vendor with his sun-burnt skin, rough mustache, frying those triangles to golden perfection under the tropical summer heat. His dripping sweat kind of freaked me out, but he made the best fried tofu fritters, so I usually risked eating a droplet or so.  In life, no great pleasure comes without taking risks.


Burmese fried chickpea tofu



Burmese fried chickpea tofu


What I love about these chickpea tofu fritters is the harmony between the paper-thin crispiness that rivals San Francisco-style crepes, and a silky custard consistency of the inside. It is such a satisfying feeling when you bite into the flimsy yet crunchy outer shell, and immediately sink your teeth into the soft clouds beneath. It never failed to make me feel like I am successfully infiltrating a highly-guarded castle. Of course, resistance is futile. Moreover, the dipping sauce is a quintessential Southeast Asian all-purpose tamarind-chili sauce. Its spiky, punchy and all-around restorative qualities balance out the richness of the fritters.


Burmese fried chickpea tofu




These fritters make me feel naughty because the tofu tastes creamy, but I know they are just a bunch of water and chickpea flour. But then again, who cares? My eight-year-old self would not bother with these trivial matter.




Burmese fried chickpea tofu


Notes
This is a softer, more gelatinous version of Burmese tofu that is meant to be fried to golden and eat right away. If you are looking for a sturdier classic Burmese tofu to be used in salads, check out my previous post.

You have to use superfine chickpea (also called gram or besan flour) for the desired silky, smooth consistency. 



Burmese fried chickpea tofu




Burmese fried chickpea tofu





Fried Burmese Soft Chickpea Tofu

Servings: 1-2 (Makes eight triangles)

Ingredients

2.3 oz. (65 gram) of superfine chickpea flour
150 ml (1 cup plus 6 tablespoons) of water (first batch)
175 ml  (1 cup plus 7.5 tablespoons) of water (second batch)
1/8 teaspoon of mushroom powder (optional)
Pinch of salt
Pinch of turmeric
Oil for deep-frying


Instructions

Sieve the chickpea flour very well. You certainly don’t need a fancy strainer for this purpose. Just place the flour in any fine-meshed strainer.

Add the first batch of water slowly while stirring with a whisk. The batter will eventually turn into a very runny pancake batter. Let the batter rest for at least 1 hour, and at most 4 hours, at room temperature. This step makes sure the agitated proteins to settle down, giving you a much smoother final product.

When the batter gets its proper nap, heat up the second batch of water on a medium heat in a saucepan. When you start seeing water bubbles clinging at the bottom of the pan, pour in the prepared batter while stirring with a plastic spatula.

At this point, I advise you to not to step away from the pan even for a moment. The moment you stop, the proteins will curdle. Stir constantly and vigorously for about 8 minutes. Your batter will suddenly spring into life and start to thicken. You want to start bringing the thicken batter to a boil. Initially, you will see bubbles in the middle. Over time, if you keep staring over medium heat, the bubbles will appear at  by the wall of your sauce pan. Then, the batter is ready.

Pour it into a pre-greased 4x4 inch glass Tupperware.

Let the tofu set for at least one hour. If stars aligned, the tofu should just come out of the mold easily when you flip. The consistency of the tofu is supposed to be like a more fragile version of a jelly, so please do treat it compassionately like a newborn child. Cut the tofu into eight triangles.

For frying, it is useless to give you exact measurement of oil. What you want is about at least ¼ inch depth of oil in a frying pan. I used my cast-iron skillet, although I think, in retrospect, non-stick pan would have made the job easier.

Heat up the oil under medium high. Drop in the tofu squares. Fry until golden brown (about 2 minutes) on each side. Serve immediately.




Serving Suggestions

You can serve these fritters with a sauce as an appetizer or make them into a rice bowl for a more substantial meal. Possibilities are endless.

These crispy yet creamy tofu fritters, in my opinion, should only be served with a sauce that has both zing and depth. For me, that sauce has to be this tamarind-garlic-chili sauce.

Tamarind-Garlic Chili sauce

Serving: Makes about 6 tablespoons (enough to serve a batch of the tofu fritters).

Ingredients

2 teaspoons of tamarind concentrate
2 tablespoons of fish sauce
1 tablespoon of Sriracha
3 cloves of grated garlic
2 teaspoons of sugar
4 tablespoon of water
2 tablespoon of finely chopped cilantro leaves

Instructions

Mix everything together, and let it stand for 20 min for flavors to develop. Taste and adjust accordingly.


Chickpea Tofu Rice bowl

This rice bowl is all about taking control your own destiny- well, may be not as dramatic. Basically, adjust the taste according to your own preference. Here is a list of ingredients that I would put in to my bowl:

Fried chickpea tofu
Cooked white rice
Tasted chickpea flour
Dried shrimp powder
Blanched bean sprouts
Cilantro
Thinly sliced onions
Crispy shallots and garlic oil (Recipe here)
Chili-tamarind sauce
Fish sauce

Mix everything together. Wolf down immediately. Wash the dishes.









print recipe

Burmese fried chickpea tofu
What if I say, you can make your own soy-free tofu at home, and it tastes amazing?
Ingredients
  • 2.3 oz. (65 grams) Chickpea flour (superfine)
  • 150 ml (1 cup plus 6 tablespoons) Water (first batch)
  • 175 ml  (1 cup plus 7.5 tablespoons) Water (second batch)
  • 1/8 teaspoon Mushroom powder (optional)
  • Pinch Salt
  • Pinch Turmeric
  • Appropriate amount Oil
Instructions
Sieve the chickpea flour very well. You certainly don’t need a fancy strainer for this purpose. Just place the flour in any fine-meshed strainer.Add the first batch of water slowly while stirring with a whisk. The batter will eventually turn into a very runny pancake batter. Let the batter rest for at least 1 hour, and at most 4 hours, at room temperature. This step makes sure the agitated proteins to settle down, giving you a much smoother final product.When the batter gets its proper nap, heat up the second batch of water on a medium heat in a saucepan. When you start seeing water bubbles clinging at the bottom of the pan, pour in the prepared batter while stirring with a plastic spatula. At this point, I advise you to not to step away from the pan even for a moment. The moment you stop, the proteins will curdle. Stir constantly and vigorously for about 8 minutes. Your batter will suddenly spring into life and start to thicken. You want to start bringing the thicken batter to a boil. Initially, you will see bubbles in the middle. Over time, if you keep staring over medium heat, the bubbles will appear at  by the wall of your sauce pan. Then, the batter is ready. Pour it into a pre-greased 4x4 inch glass Tupperware.Let the tofu set for at least one hour. If stars aligned, the tofu should just come out of the mold easily when you flip. The consistency of the tofu is supposed to be like a more fragile version of a jelly, so please do treat it compassionately like a newborn child. Cut the tofu into eight triangles.For frying, it is useless to give you exact measurement of oil. What you want is about at least ¼ inch depth of oil in a frying pan. I used my cast-iron skillet, although I think, in retrospect, non-stick pan would have made the job easier.Heat up the oil under medium high. Drop in the tofu squares. Fry until golden brown (about 2 minutes) on each side. Serve immediately.
Details
Prep time: Cook time: Total time: Yield: 6 fritters


If you like this post, also check out, Burmese chickpea tofu salad.

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7 comments:

  1. This looks fabulous! I have been using chickpea flour religiously for a couple of years now since I don't eat gluten anymore, and I love it! I didn't know it was used in Burmese cuisine. I'm glad you just turned 8 again. Happy birthday! :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you so much for your birthday wish Adair :D. Yes, we used chickpea flour extensively in Burmese cuisines. In fact, many signature dishes call for chickpea flour. How do you use your chickpea flour?

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    2. I make it as a flatbread (socca) and as a quiche. I've done it a million different ways and it's always good! Quiche recipe coming soon in an e-book. ;)

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    3. I look forward to your e-book :D. I wonder how it tastes.

      Delete
  2. this sounds delicious! i get stuck in a (soybean) tofu rut, so this sounds like the perfect way to get out of that. also, congrats on your saveur nom!! sending warm wishes from a fellow uci student.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh wow thanks for visiting. What year are you at UCI?

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    2. i'm a third year studying cs/business (bim, if that makes more sense)!

      Delete