Sunday, February 24, 2008

Chinese New Years Dinner - Roasted Grains of Paradise and Salt, and Deep Fried Tofu

Here's two more recipes from our Chinese New Years Dinner from earlier this month.

First off, a condiment that was included (by Kylie) with two of the dishes we made. It was so great that in addition to using with those dishes, we just put the bowl on the table so it could be added to anything or everything.

Roasted Grains of Paradise and Salt.

This is actually supposed to be Sichuan pepper and salt. I had some sichuan peppercorns last year, but I used them all up, and couldn't find any to buy in Kamloops. We have been using Grains of Paradise instead of pepper, so we used that instead.

1 tb Grains of Paradise
3 tb sea salt

Place the grains of paradise (or peppercorns) and the salt in a small, heavy pan over medium heat. Cook, shaking the pan occasionally, until the grains and salt become fragrant, and the grains begin to pop. Remove from heat and let cool. Grind in a food processor or clean coffee grinder, or by hand with a mortar and pestle.

It's hard to come up with words to describe how good this is. Grains of Paradise is very similar to pepper, maybe a bit more spicy. The roasting amplifies the spiciness slightly and adds a great smokiness. Really, really good.

This next recipe was my very favorite of the night. But before I show you, let me share two things about the planning of the dinner.
Scott was off work when we planned this dinner. So one day before I left for work I gave him the Kylie book and some paper and said, pick some recipes you want to try. When I came home that night he had chosen the perfect menu. One dish he chose really surprised me - Deep Fried Tofu. Scott is pretty easygoing, and rarely turns up his nose at what I cook or want to cook. And while he will eat and enjoy dishes I make that have tofu in them, he has never chosen a tofu dish on his own before. Progress people!
The second thing - we bought a small deep fryer right before this dinner. So I think he was just looking for another dish that could be fried.

My GOD was this good. I used a soft tofu, and once you crunched through the thin crispy coating the tofu just melted in your mouth. It was served as Kylie suggested with the salt and pepper, lemon and cilantro, but we also dipped it in the 4 sauces out on the table - light peanut, hoisin, soy sauce, and kejap manis which is a sweet, slightly thick soy sauce. The tofu with a bit of peanut sauce was awesome, dude.

Deep Fried Tofu with Roasted Grains of Paradise and Salt and Lemon
altered slightly from Kylie Kwong

1 package soft tofu
1/3 cup flour
handful cilantro leaves
1 tsp roasted grains of paradise and salt
1 lemon cut in wedges
oil for deep frying

Cut around the edges of the cellophane on the tofu package and gently invert the tofu in one piece onto a plate or cutting board.
Carefully and gently cut the tofu in half vertically, then cut the tofu lenghtwise and widthwise into smallish cubes.
When the oil is hot (250 to 375') place the flour on a plate and toss the tofu squares gently in the flour.
Carefully fry the tofu until golden brown and crispy 3 or 4 minutes. Remove from the oil and drain on paper towels.
Serve tofu with cilantro, lemon and salt and pepper on the side.

Other dishes from the dinner:
Stir Fried Snow Peas with Garlic


Karen Baking Soda said...

I'm easily not the biggest tofu lover but this looks delicious, especially when allowed to dip. Love dipping!
Might be in search for soft tofu soon!

Rachel said...

That salt sounds great!

Deborah said...

I have actually never tried tofu before. But I love anything fried, so maybe it's time I gave it a try!

MyKitchenInHalfCups said...

Timing is everything . . . I had lunch with a neighbor and her sister on Monday. They served Paradise & Salt . . . it was incredible! And you now tell me it's that's simple to prepare!

Babeth said...

Thanks Sara for the February challenge :-)