A vegan version Taiwanese-style Fried Chicken using frozen-and-thawed tofu. Boldly favored just how you’ll find them on the streets of Taipei.
My all-time favorite Taiwanese street food is none other than the Taiwanese Chicken Cutlet (雞排). It is this Schnitzel-looking, thin slab of chicken breast that’s been deep fried to golden-brown perfection and boldly flavored with pepper salt and five-spice.
The dish is known for its size — one piece is literally as big as your face! For some reason I just feel invincible whenever I have one of these cutlets in my hands — they’re so big I feel like a knight equipped with a shield while casually sauntering down the side walk. As for the popcorn chicken, not much more needs to be said here. They are bite-sized versions of the chicken cutlet, albeit usually made with chicken thighs. In this recipe, I recreated both the Taiwanese Chicken Cutlet and the Taiwanese Popcorn Chicken with Tofu. But before we chuck that slab of tofu into the deep-fryer, a special technique must be done…
To sum it up, the technique is as follows: you freeze the tofu, thaw it completely, freeze it again, then thaw it completely again. The whole process takes around a whole day so be sure to prepare ahead of time! This works best with medium-firm tofu as it has the optimal liquid content. Note that you only take the tofu out of its container after the second thaw.
I know this is a lot of work, but trust me, it will be so worth it! After the second thaw, you will see amazing cracks and layers form on both the exterior and the interior of the tofu.
What happens when you freeze the tofu is that the liquid inside the tofu crystallizes and forms large clumps. And when you thaw the tofu, the ice crystals will melt but the space they have taken up will remain there, creating many cracks and tears on the tofu. Doing this process two times simply magnifies its effect.
Can i replace potato starch with something else? It’s not the easiest to find
Hey there! what about cornstarch?
This recipe was delicious! Freezing the tofu made it have the texture of chicken which blew me away. I also replaced the potato starch with cornstarch which worked out great. The spices were amazing too, made me so nostalgic and also made me want to go back to Taiwan :’)
Thank you for the recipe! I really liked the crunch and texture of the tofu. Just a question, how thick was your tofu cutlet? I think mine was a little too thick and ended up tasting a bit bland on the inside.. but will definitely try making them again!
Thank you for trying the recipe! Perhaps you cut the tofu the wrong way (cutting it down the width instead of the length)? Check the pictures on my recipe to see how I cut it! If you cut it the right way, perhaps the tofu you got is a thicker cut. You could cut your tofu into three sections or four sections as well.
Absolutely delicious! Used an air fryer and it turned out great!!
Attempted to use the air fryer for this recipe but it turned out pretty dry and hard. I set it at 360 for 20 minutes. Maybe I soaked it in too much flour?
Hey Mary, sorry to hear that! I think perhaps it’s because you air-fried it for too long. I would imagine it takes around the same time to air fry the tofu as it would to pan fry them. I only pan-fried them for around 7 minutes, so 20 minutes seems a bit too long.
Do you freeze the whole packet, or drain the water out of the packet first?
Hi Michi, yes, you freeze the whole packet!! You only drain the water after the second thaw.
Looks amazing! Do you thaw the tofu in hot/warm water or do you just let it sit outside?
I just let it sit outside!!
I’m a meat eater and my boyfriend is vegan.. but we both agree these are AMAZING! I’ve tried loads of crispy deep fried tofu recipes but this one steals the cake. Impeccable texture AND flavor. I tossed the leftovers in some barbecue sauce the next day for a bonus.
I just made this for my family – we loved it! Definitely an indulgence with the frying and salt, but it ended up tasting just like something you’d get at a Taiwanese night market. Thanks for introducing me to the wonder of freezing and thawing twice; it definitely changes the texture and how well the tofu soaks up marinade!