porkapalooza over the weekend, I felt a need to step away from the meat. So I thought I'd try a couple of dishes with tofu.
When I first tasted tofu many years ago, I hated it. At that time, early to mid 70s, there was a push to convert meat eaters to vegetarians by making ersatz meat dishes with tofu. You can still find remnants of this misguided effort in supermarkets that sell tofu dogs and such. If you like a good hot dog, or even one that you might find at a bowling alley or an airport bar, rotating for god-only-knows-how-long on the bars of the wienermatic hot dog rotisserie, you will not like a tofu dog. Moreover, if you like tofu, silken, firm, steamed, fried, or simmered, you will not like a tofu dog. If suffering does indeed ennoble, a steady diet of tofu dogs should guarantee sainthood.
Bakwan tahu, on the other hand, are sinfully good. In Indonesia, you would find these being sold from carts on street corners, one of a selection of fritters and chips fried to order. Made with bean sprouts and finely julienned sweet potatoes, they are similar to Vietnamese banh tom. You could easily add shrimp to these, and bakwan often do have shrimp, but I left them out since our niece is allergic.
They are good with cocktails, but then, isn't everything? I served these without any sauce, but they would be good with some nuoc cham. They may be served with lettuce to hold and wrap them, or naked, as they are usually served in Indonesia.
The recipe can be easily adjusted to incorporate other ingredients. The batter can be made slightly thinner or thicker by increasing or decreasing the water. The bakwan can be deep fried or shallow fried. If making ahead of time, keep warm in a very low oven until ready to serve. They should not be made more than an hour ahead of time.
Bakwan Tahu dengan Ubi
1 egg, beaten
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup rice flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
2/3 cup water
1/2 tsp salt
2 cloves of garlic, pounded to a paste
4 to 5 shallots, minced, then pounded to a paste
1 block of tofu, about 250 grams, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
2/3 cup finely julienned sweet potatoes
2/3 cup bean sprouts
oil for frying
Make a batter of the first eight ingredients. Stir in the tofu, sweet potatoes, and bean sprouts. Drop by large tablespoonfuls in hot oil. Cook on both sides for two to three minutes. Drain on paper towels. Serve warm.