My first experience with tofu was not pleasant. I convinced myself to try it when I was in college because it was what healthy people ate. And being a nutrition major, well, I considered myself a healthy person. After ordering it at a restaurant, it arrived in a stir-fry, mushy and tasteless. This led to my conclusion that while I was healthy, I wasn’t that healthy.
It wasn’t until I traveled to Southeast Asia and tasted tofu for what it truly is – an Asian specialty – that I began to appreciate it. There, it was most often referred to as bean curd, deep fried with a crispy texture, set atop a steaming bowl of veggies and noodles, and it most likely came homemade from the restaurant, or a vendor at the local market. It was delicious.
Bean curd is what I like, not the ‘healthy people eat tofu’ version I received in the States on that first trial experience. Because frying isn’t my specialty, I had yet to make it at home. Then a few months ago I came across a post from Taste Hong Kong with step by step instructions on how to fry tofu.
With tofu fresh on the mind, I met friends at Windy Corner Market on the outskirts of Lexington for a holiday lunch a few weeks ago. I’ve written before about this wonderful, must-try establishment serving up local foods. On my most recent visit, I branched out to try the Tofu Boy for Topher. As the menu describes, “Crispy fried tofu in Black Jack Barbecue Sauce stacked with Earthy Crunchy Slaw, tomatoes, pickles and our special sauce.”
Despite the mediocre iPhone picture, I assure you it was delicious.
So, I had three tofu-focused signs telling me that it was time to bring it to my kitchen. As a result, I have my version of the Tofu Boy for Topher. It is different in style and ingredients, but similar in flavors. I also still have a way to go with perfecting fried tofu, but practice makes perfect.
Despite these shortcomings, I am ready to make this again for lunch tomorrow. It’s not Asian-style bean curd, but somehow barbeque sauce and crunchy cabbage go wonderfully with tofu.
Tofu Po’Boy with Barbeque Cole Slaw
6 pieces of tofu about 1 ½ inches wide & ½ inch thick
Lori Rice is a freelance writer, recipe developer, food photographer and nutritional scientist. Fake Food Free is a creative outlet that allows her to connect with people from around the world who share a love of travel, food culture and cooking.