Jeff Mauro Introduced Me to a Tofu Dish I Actually Love

During a recent live class on the Food Network Kitchen app, he prepped an Asian-style tofu-eggplant stir-fry that changed the game for me.

November 25, 2019

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I consider myself a very adventurous eater, always down for anything at any time. But still, there are a few things I’d prefer to not eat — celery and curry powder chief among them. Oh, and tofu. I get that tofu is mild in flavor, but for me, it’s about more than the taste. I can’t get past the spongey, soft, marshmallow-y texture (unless it’s crumbled up into little unidentifiable bits!). It was only after watching Jeff Mauro make Crispy Szechuan-Style Eggplant and Tofu in a live class on the Food Network Kitchen app that I decided to give tofu another shot. If you, like me, are tofu-averse, keep an open mind here, because Jeff’s process completely transforms the tofu into something you’ll love.

There are a few keys to Jeff’s method. To start, he opts for extra-firm tofu, which is sold in a hearty block and can easily be cut up without falling apart. Secondly, before cooking he presses the heck out of it to remove as much moisture as possible. This is the crucial, as water would prevent the tofu from getting crispy, he says. And that leads us to the third, and I think best, part — the deep-frying!

Yes, pretty much anything will taste good if you deep-fry it, but there’s more to it than that. Again, it’s about the texture. Jeff coats cubes of tofu in cornstarch, which is a classic stir-fry move. This helps form a crust over the tofu, and it crisps up when dunked in the hot oil. That crispy, slightly crunchy bite — that’s what I’ve been missing from tofu, and thanks to Jeff, I finally found it here.

You can watch Jeff prep this recipe from start to finish (wait until you see the spicy soy-garlic sauce he makes!) in the now-on-demand class in the Food Network Kitchen app. Plus, he’s got tons of other classes ready to watch. Download the app and right now you'll get a 90-day free trial.

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