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Faux chicken dish proves tofu’s versatility

  • COURTESY PETER BLEJWAS

    Bite-size pieces of tofu made by macrobiotic health coach Jin Hirata are a good stand-in for fried chicken, tasty enough to take the center spot of any lunch or dinner plate and satisfying for vegans and meat lovers alike. He served the tofu with a watercress and barley salad.

  • COURTESY PETER BLEJWAS

    1. The process begins with altering the texture of the tofu block by freezing it. “This makes it firmer, more fibrous — more like a meat texture,” said Jin Hirata.

  • COURTESY PETER BLEJWAS

    2. The sturdier texture means the tofu is less likely to crumble when removing excess water. Hirata executed this task by hand, using paper towels (at home he uses cheesecloth) to wrap chunks of tofu before squeezing them. He squeezed the tofu again with his bare hands over a colander as he broke off bite-size pieces and dropped them into a bowl of marinade. Even at this stage, he was able to draw out a good amount of water.

  • COURTESY PETER BLEJWAS

    3. The morsels soaked for just 30 minutes before Hirata began the cooking. Post-freezing, they took on a spongy quality, and thanks to the thorough removal of excess water, they absorbed the marinade efficiently.

  • COURTESY PETER BLEJWAS

    4. Hirata dusted the bowl of seasoned tofu liberally with flour, mixing as he sprinkled, until the pieces were thinly but thoroughly coated.

  • COURTESY PETER BLEJWAS

    5. With a quick fry, Hirata produced crisp morsels that smelled appealingly like fried chicken and had a full-bodied flavor.

  • COURTESY PETER BLEJWAS

As a high-school teacher in Japan 13 years ago, Jin Hirata was perpetually battling illness. Read more

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