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.