Thursday, October 17, 2013

Huff, puff, puff!

No, this post isn't about running or any kinds of sports, although... I did just came back from doing yoga. With all that ZEN in me (ahem!), I decided not to get lazy and start cleaning up my kitchen counter so I can make this dish.

Soy puffs is one of my favorite forms of tofu. Those of you who rolled your eyes at the mention of the word 'tofu', hear me out first, then roll your eyes. There are MANY different forms of tofu. Mainly tofu is categorized based on its consistency (soft, firm, etc.). But there are also what's called soy puffs, which is the equivalent of Japanese style tofu pouch before they're being soaked in soy sauce, mirin mixture and made into inari. 

I love tofu. There! I said it. Tofu is my go to place for a quick meal that's fulfilling and comforting. Why? Because tofu absorbs ANYTHING it comes in contact with. And unlike tempe, it doesn't have that much of an effect texture wise (I mean, seriously, when all else fail, get a super soft tofu, mash the heck out of the thing and drink it!). And it's very, VERY versatile. The world is your oyster. I have never, EVER, added tofu into anything that I didn't like. Tofu is like MI7. It blends in stealthily into whatever it's put on.

Now, like I said, there're different kinds of tofu. Soft tofu is good for making watery dishes. Firm tofu is awesome for stir fry or fried tofu dish. Extra firm/rock solid firm (yes, some oriental markets sell the rock solid firm tofu, kinda like tempe consistency) are great for stews because they hold their shape while retaining the seasonings they're put in. Lastly, the fried tofu pouches... These guys are awesome to make stuffs I liked from when I was a kid (the kinds of treat I had to hide from my mum when I bought it using my allowance). 

This recipe is for one of the things I absolutely loved and sometimes had to beg my mother to but it for me. This is street food at its finest (according to me, of course). My mother didn't want me to eat street food. She was right, of course, the air pollution in Indonesia is bad (still is). But mommy dearest couldn't keep me from craving this and learning how to make it... HEHEHEH!

I don't know why the name of the recipe is tahu gejrot. Literally translated, 'tahu' is 'tofu' and 'gejrot' is some word in Sundanese (this dish came from Cirebon, west Java) that my mom or my grandma might know. Wiki search didn't turn anything. I always think of 'gejrot' as in the sound the soy sauce/tamarind/brown sugar mixture made as it came out of the spout or something like "pound"... I dunno. 

Tahu Gejrot 

1 box of soy puffs
8 cloves of garlic
4 cloves of shallots (red pearl onions)
8 birds eye chili OR 1 habanero pepper (optional)
1 inch round ball of tamarind reconstituted in 1/2 cup warm water OR 1-2 tbs of liquid tamarind juice
1 cup water
1/4 cup sweet soy sauce
salt/sugar to taste

1. Coarsely mash garlic, shallots, and  birds-eye chili/habanero pepper.
2. In a clean mixing bowl, mix mashed garlic/shallots/chili with tamarind and soy sauce.
3. Add water.
4. Season with salt/sugar to taste.
5. Tear soy puffs into 3-4 pieces/puff.
6. Add torn puffs into the mixing bowl, toss to coat evenly.

1. If you can't find soy puffs like the one I use, you can use the Japanese style fried tofu pouch (abura-age). The only caveat to that is the tofu pouch is a bit more expensive.
2. The resulting flavor should be garlick-y and sweet with a hint of sour and savory. The sweetness should come primarily from the sweet soy sauce, but it shouldn't be overwhelming that you can taste the "flavor" of the sweet soy sauce.
3. Omit chili altogether. The garlic/sweet/sour flavor takes precedence.
4. This can be made a day ahead or hours ahead or it can be enjoyed right after you finished tossing the tofu in the "dressing". The soy puffs is a puff, it has limited absorbency.
5. If you have extra "dressing", just add more soy puffs.
6. If you ABSOLUTELY cannot find soy puffs, just deep fry cubed firm tofu until thick skin develops. The one thing you'll be missing is the chewy texture of the puffs (puffs are primarily fried tofu skin) and you may need to soak it longer in the dressing.
7. This dish is the kind of dish that can be modified depending on how you like it. Add more tamarind if you like sour, more salt, less garlic, etc. Have a go at it. It IS street food and there're 1001 variations depending on the seller.

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