We don't see Mr NQN's family much. A few years ago we'd spend a lot of time with them but nowadays it's mostly Mr NQN and his younger brother, chick magnet The Assman. They hang out and do boy things. You know sitting quietly, fixing things and having silent manly conversations. Typical boys. They are the polar opposite of what I do with my girlfriends ;)
A few of you have asked about the Assman and I should reiterate that the reason why he is called that is because he worked in Asset Management and he loves Seinfeld, not because he is a proctologist or a sleazy guy. He is also a vegetarian as is the rest of Mr NQN's family. Mr NQN was the only one to start eating meat at sixteen years of age. Now Mr NQN's mum always worries that Mr NQN doesn't get enough tofu. My mum worries that I don't make enough money, and Mr NQN's mum worries that he doesn't eat enough tofu. I chuckle at the disparity. Mr NQN's mum perhaps thinks that we tuck into a meat fest every night (and perhaps we won't tell her that Mr NQN became recently addicted to beef tartar and foie gras au torchon while in Montreal). So when we invited her and The Assman over I knew that there was one recipe that I just had to make for them.
_Red Pepper Paste _
I first saw this recipe on Lisa's fabulous blog and she in turn got the recipe from this site. The recipe is from Joe Kim's Flying Pig truck which drives around L.A. dispensing all sorts of taco-ey Asian fusion goodness with a French technique. As soon as I read Lisa's review I wanted to try it.
I found gochujang at the Asian grocery store under "Red Pepper Paste" and followed the instructions. Sure the flouring and frying was messy but when I put these together I was so utterly over the moon with them I made plans for the rest of the 99 tablespoons of gochujang. This is a dish where a carnivore will not start gristling as there is so much flavour in it. The sweet, crunchiness of the nashi pear and peanuts, rich hoisin sauce, flavoursome scallions and flavour packed tofu go perfectly together. It also happens to make a truckload of this tofu filling and would easily fill a dozen tacos and then some. Don't let any tofu prejudices put you off these. They are absolutely wonderful!
So tell me Dear Reader, do you have any food prejudices? And what does your mum worry about with you?
Crunchy Tofu Tacos
One 14-ounce package extra-firm tofu, cut into 1-inch cubes
3 tablespoons Korean chile powder or hot paprika
1 tablespoon Korean pepper paste (kochujang or gochujang)
1 tablespoon finely grated garlic
1 tablespoon finely grated ginger
1 tablespoon toasted-sesame oil
1 cup cornstarch
2 cups vegetable oil, for frying (I used a fantastic Gwydir Grove Chilli and Lime olive oil and I shallow fried the tofu in less oil)
12 corn or 5-inch flour tortillas, warmed
Hoisin sauce, kimchi (I used iceberg lettuce as I forgot to buy kimchi), Asian pear, scallions and chopped honey-roasted peanuts (I used macadamias), for serving
Coating the tofu in sauce
Step 1 - Place the tofu on a rack lined with paper towels and drain for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, combine 1 tablespoon of the chile powder with the pepper paste, garlic, ginger and sesame oil and season with salt. In another large bowl, whisk the cornstarch with the remaining 2 tablespoons of chile powder and 1 tablespoon of salt.
Tossing the tofu in cornflour
Step 2 - In a medium, deep skillet, heat the oil until it reaches 365°F.185C. Add the tofu to the chile sauce and stir gently to coat. Scrape the tofu into the cornstarch mixture and toss to coat. Transfer the coated tofu to a colander to tap out the excess cornstarch. Fry the tofu in one batch, stirring occasionally, until golden and crunchy, 3 to 3 1/2 minutes; maintain the heat near 360°. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the crunchy tofu to a paper towellined rack and sprinkle with salt. Serve the tofu right away with the tortillas, hoisin sauce, kimchi, Asian pear, scallions and peanuts.