We’ve all got them, those foods that we wake up craving, those foods we daydream about, those foods that make us salivate at the thought of them. Most people’s lists include chocolate, chips, pasta, cheese, bread and the like. My recent food lusting has taken a strange twist. I. Crave. Tofu! All day, everyday, I want it. Don’t know where it came from, don’t know what it will take to tame the hungry tofu beast, but she’s there.
Enter, these Korean inspired tacos! I found an awesome old school Asian cookbook in a boxed lot at an auction, and was inspired to try my hand at some homemade kimchi. This delicious fermented cabbage is supposedly the bees knees when it comes to digestive health, I just know it’s delicious.
I first became familiar with kimchi a few years ago, and fell in love. According to Korean friends, the art of making kimchi is so revered that it was the duty of the newly wed girl to learn her mother in law’s recipe, in order to pass down the tradition.
There are as many ways to make kimchi as there are mother-in-laws, so this is just my take on this simple and fabulous dish. Most contain oyster sauce, but I wanted to keep the entire dish vegan and vegetarian friendly, so I used soy sauce instead.
The time you ferment your cabbage will depend on how funky you want your stuff. I wanted maximum funk, so I let that bottle get good and rank before fridge time.
When fermentation happens so does gas, that stuff wants out, help it! Check your kimchi daily, in order to let the gas escape and in order to check its progress.
It’s super delish and worthy of saddling up next to everything from eggs, to soup, to sandwiches and tacos!
On that note, on to the tacos…
For the batter you’ll wanna pick a beer with some umph, otherwise, what’s the point? The presence of the chili powder in the batter give it a nice kick, while the Panko offers some serious crunch.
I start with a small amount of Panko and then add what I need, I hate wasting those yummy bits. Plus you don’t want the batter mucking up the Panko.
In a million years I never thought I’d partake in a tortilla heading into my mouth, without the presence of cheese, but I was wrong. This dish is completely vegetarian and vegan friendly (check the tortilla package to make doubly sure), without skipping a tasty beat. Wait a minute. No meat? No dairy? This can’t be the right blog! Friends, there is so much flavor and so much depth, your mouth and mind will be reeling. Bitter hops, crunchy/squishy tofu, bright lime, cilantro and scallions, tangy kimchi with a kick, sweet peanuts, and tangy hoison – win, win, win!
Asian Beer Battered Tofu Tacos with Homemade Kimchi
16 ounces extra firm tofu
12 ounces beer, IPA or Pale Ale preferably
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons Korean chili powder
1/3 cup cornstarch
1 cup Panko
2 cups vegetable, peanut, or canola oil
scallions, cilantro, chopped honey roasted peanuts, hoison sauce, lime, for garnish
Spicy kimchi, recipe follows
6-inch flour tortillas
Mix beer, flour, baking powder, salt and pepper in a medium bowl. Cover and refrigerate for approximately 20 minutes.
Drain the water from the tofu package. Place tofu block on a paper towel lined plate. Place another sheet of paper towel over the tofu and a heavy plate on top. Allow tofu to drain for at least 20 minutes. Pat tofu dry and cut into 1/2 inch squares.
Make a small tofu assembly line – the first bowl will contain cornstarch, the second is the beer batter, the last Panko. Place a baking sheet or cutting board at the end to hold your little tofu bites. Dredge tofu squares in the cornstarch, knocking off any excess. With a fork, dip the tofu in the beer batter and cover completely, turning to get all sides. Knock off any extra batter. Dip into the Panko and coat completely. Place on baking sheet.
In a deep skillet, heat oil, approximately 2 inches deep, over medium heat. When the oil has reached approximately 350 degrees, drop in tofu. Allow to cook approximately 4-5 minutes each side. Remove and place on paper towel lined baking sheets.
Serve immediately on warm tortillas with scallions, cilantro, peanuts, hoison, kimchi and a squeeze of lime.
1 medium head Napa cabbage
1/2 cup salt
4 scallions, chopped, use white and green parts
10 cloves garlic, minced
1-inch nub ginger, minced
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup soy sauce
2 tablespoons Korean chili powder
Slice cabbage in half length-wise and core. Slice cabbage in 2-inch ribbons.
Place cabbage in a large bowl, cover with salt and enough water to cover. Set a plate on top and let sit overnight, or 24 hours. Drain well and pat dry.
Mix scallions, garlic, ginger, sugar, soy sauce and Korean chili in a large bowl.
Add cabbage, tossing and coating well.
Pack tightly into a sterilized jar and cover. Store at room temperature. After 24 hours open to release gases and check fermentation. Let ferment up to 4 days and then refrigerate.