Thousand Layer Korean Tofu Nuggets
Thousand layer Korean tofu nuggets with sweet and spicy Korean BBQ sauce make a divine treat. Perfect for game days or pot lucks. This is one starter that’s sure to please!
This is one of those recipes to pull out on a day when you really need a treat, but want to keep things healthy-ish. Crunchy, seasoned nuggets of thousand layer tofu pair beautifully with a rich, spicy Korean barbecue sauce. It’s a spoil that’s healthier than it looks.
And, you will want to double or triple the recipe for the Korean barbecue sauce, because it’s a home run! Where I grew up, we have a saying, “the man with the sauce is boss.” I hope that’s true for women too, because this sauce is a killer. It hits all the right flavour notes — spicy, sweet, funky, and utterly addictive. You’ll find yourself dipping, slathering, and spooning it onto and into everything and anything.
Don’t be intimidated by the steps in this recipe. The early steps are hands-off, and the actual preparation can easily be done in 30 minutes — especially if you have helping hands.
Tofu is great for working with kids, because you don’t have to worry about cross contamination. So, if there are youngsters in your household, the breading station is a terrific way to get them involved!
What is Thousand Layer Tofu?
Don’t worry. Thousand layer tofu isn’t another specialised product you need to find at the store.
You make it at home. All you need is a packet of tofu and a freezer. Yes. You heard me. A freezer!
It’s amazing what a little freezing and thawing will do for a simple block of tofu. Because tofu is porous, and stored in water, when it’s frozen and thawed multiple times, air pockets form in the tofu block.
These air pockets change the texture of the tofu. Some say it becomes more “meaty”. I’m not sure about that. But, the little holes definitely add a layer of textural interest. They also make the tofu more amenable to absorbing flavours from marinades or dressings.
To make thousand layer tofu, simply put the tofu in the freezer. Then, thaw it. (This will take 2-3 hours for a 450 g block.) Put the tofu back in the freezer. Then, thaw it again. Now, you have thousand layer tofu! It’s that simple.
Thousand layer tofu is perfect for salads, sauces, or any dish where you want the tofu to have additional texture and flavour. Yes. It takes a little forethought and planning. However, it’s worth the minimal effort.
If you haven’t planned ahead and made thousand layer tofu, can you still make these delicious nuggets? Of course you can! The texture will be different. But, they’ll still be crispy and delicious.
Frying, Is that Healthy?
It’s natural to be concerned about the health implications of eating oily, fried foods. However, frying doesn’t have to be unhealthy or greasy. Using the right oil, at the right temperature, seals the food without allowing it to absorb oil. In fact, you may be surprised to learn that foods fried at the correct temperature take on less oil than a standard sauté.
What’s the science behind that claim? Well, when food is fried at the right temperature (176º – 190º C or 350º – 375º F) the surface of the food cooks quickly, making it impossible for the oil to penetrate the food. So, if you’ve had greasy fried food, it was simply cooked in oil that wasn’t hot enough.
Regardless of what you’ve been told, you don’t need fancy equipment — or even a deep fry thermometer — to get it right. You just need to know your stove and have a little patience.
Believe it or not, a simple wooden chopstick is a time-tested tool that works wonders when it comes to frying. When you think the oil is hot, simply dip the tip of a wooden chopstick into the centre of the pan. If the oil is hot enough, small bubbles will immediately surround the chopstick, percolating to the surface of the oil. If this doesn’t happen, or there are only a couple of bubbles, the oil isn’t ready. When the oil is ready, its bubbles will be as fine and steady as those in a glass of well-chilled champagne.
About This Recipe
This recipe is super simple. However, you don’t want to skimp on the steps in the breading.
I ‘m usually in a hurry, running behind the eight-ball with a busy, hungry family at my back. So, I am constantly looking for ways to speed things up. I don’t want to cut corners. I simply want to achieve the same result in less time. Hence, I tend to eliminate anything I think might be a “superfluous step” — like dunking and breading twice.
In this instance, although the step may seem superfluous, it isn’t. Dunking the nuggets in the liquid — and back into the seasoned flour — twice, creates a layer that’s substantial enough to create a solid barrier between the tofu and the hot oil. This is the layer that holds in moisture, and prevents oil from seeping through. It’s also what creates that crunchy, crackly crust we all love. So, don’t get tempted to shortcut.
Other than that, this is a straightforward recipe you’re sure to fall in love with. I hope your family enjoys these delicious thousand layer Korean tofu nuggets every bit as much as my family does. Bon appétit!