Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Accents and Fly Tofu

It is a bit of an inside joke for Asian-Americans to order things like "fly lice" instead of "fried rice."

Some people take offense to this little play on Asian-to-English accents.  As someone who has been stopped by people to tell me that I speak perfect English, I don't mean the use of the word "fly" for "fried" to be offensive at all.

You see, I have been put down by other Asians who think that I am not "Asian enough" because I don't have any accent.  And it definitely stings, because deep down, I want to be connected to my culture but have reached a point at which it's kind of awkward now and associated with things I'd rather not remember.  My culture will always be a part of me, but still, no accent.

Anyway , I love accents (I guess by definition, we all have one, by you know what I mean!).  I once accidentally gave up a seat in class that I was saving for my friend because a guy with a hypnotic British accent asked me if the seat was taken.  "The Ukrainian" also has an accent.  I love.

So where were we...?  Oh yeah, "fly tofu."  This is another method I use to cook tofu besides trying to roast it.  This is how I make it:

1) Drain a package of Extra Firm tofu.  The one pictured is about 16 oz, but you can use whatever amount you have on hand.  I tend to cut a hole in the packaging and drain it in the sink this way.  If the tofu was frozen beforehand, thaw in the microwave (using Defrost settings) or put in near-boiling hot water to thaw.  I've heard that freezing, although not recommended on the tofu packages for some reason, actually helps with the later chewiness of the finished product.

2) Press the tofu.  In this case, I put it between two plates and a heavier weight on the top plate.  Don't use anything so heavy that it breaks the tofu, though!  If you have one, use a clean cloth to wrap around the tofu while pressing.... it helps a lot.

3) After 15 or so minutes, you should see a bunch of water.  Hold the tofu onto the plate as you drain this.

4) Slice the tofu.  I like to cut mine in half lengthwise and then into half-inch pieces width-wise.  Try to get them even in size, unlike my cutting....

5) Heat up -- medium/high heat -- a large pan with oil, about a tablespoon or more, depending on the size of your pan.  It should be enough that you can swirl at least a little oil onto most of the surface.  I used virgin coconut oil for this, since I have a big jar.  It also imparts a nice coconut flavor!

6) Carefully place the tofu in the pan, not crowding them too much.  Season with some salt if desired.  Use tongs if you can.  You'll want to leave the tofu be for at least 5 minutes before checking on them.  If you check on them too soon, you're not going to get the same kind of browning you would had you waited.  You've been warned.

7) Flip the tofu and cook on the other side for about 4-5 minutes.  (I think I checked on some of these too soon! -- "on purpose" so I can show you what happens if you do.)  After removing these from the pan, you may have to add more oil if you have more tofu to fry.


  1. LOL! Love this. I am also a non-accented asian so I can definitely appreciate the humor!!

  2. I have never liked tofu. Maybe I've just been cooking it all wrong this entire time...

  3. No offense taken here...I love me some stereotyped-humor.

    And thanks for the tofu cooking tips, I've never actually bought it to make at home before. I just might have to bookmark this page..

  4. I am another of Asian descent without an accent. Heck. I don't even speak Japanese!

    I do think though that coming from a mixed culture allows me to be more understanding and tolerant of other cultures....

  5. I've only been complimented about my great English speaking skills by other Chicanos. Even in that case it's still awkward.

    My friend recommends freezing the tofu first before pressing and using in saucy meals. The spongy texture helps absorb the sauce. His veggie mole recipe is the only thing I've ever prepared tofu for.