It’s officially 4th of July week, which means it’s officially almost the first day of July, which means WHERE IS THIS YEAR GOING. I feel old saying that but REALLY time goes by a lot faster the older you get, amirite?
As a companion to last week’s chorizo dogs, I wanted to make yet another meal that can go in a hot dog bun, but for the veg-heads among us. I actually liked these JUST as much as the chorizo dogs, for different reasons, and I think it was because of the sauce/slaw toppings, which are kind of like what you’d find on a bahn mi – slightly spicy, sweet, and tangy flavors that have lots going on but aren’t so weird that people won’t like them. Kind of Asian Lite. Does that make sense? Let’s cook.
We’ll start with the sauce and the slaw, because they can rest while we make the tofu tempura. BUT, while you do this you’ll want to be heating the oil for frying, which takes some time. So, in a heavy pot or skillet, heat about 2 inches of canola or vegetable oil (or whatever you like to fry with) over medium-high heat. Probably the oil should be 375F, but I don’t have a candy thermometer so I just guess. When a pinch of flour sizzles in the oil we’re ready to fry. BUT ANYWAY. Get the oil heating, then grab soy sauce, oyster sauce, sweet chili sauce, rice vinegar, spicy oil, sugar, cilantro, carrots, green onion, and cucumber. Those are your ingredients for the sauce and the slaw that we top the dog with.
For the slaw, mix the sugar and vinegar into the bottom of a bowl, then thinly slice or cut the veggies into matchsticks – just make them all teensy and pretty, how you’d like them to look on a sandwich. Toss the veggies with the vinegar mixture, and let them sit while you prep the tempura.
For the tempura dogs, you’ll need hot dog buns, tofu cut into strips (tofu fingers! that should be a thing), salt, flour, baking soda, ice water, and oil for frying. Any light oil will work fine, and if you look above you should have already started heating the oil, riiiiight? Right.
Then, whisk the batter together. It’ll be thin and slightly lumpy, like pancake batter. If it’s really thick, add a splash of water, but remember that the ice cubes will continue to melt as the batter sits.
Then, one at a time, gently place the tofu sticks into the hot oil – they should sizzle almost immediately. Depending on how large your skillet is, you should be able to fry 3 or 4 sticks of tofu at a time.
These are really delicious, really easy, and really healthy if you omit the fried batter portion of the recipe, which you of course won’t. They’re a great meat substitute, but different enough that you’ll love them whether or not you like meat.
And, hate tofu? Try it this way. Promise. You won’t regret it.
- FOR THE TOFU DOGS
- 1 brick tofu, cut into 1-inch square sticks
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup ice water
- vegetable oil or other light oil, for frying
- 2 hot dog buns, toasted
- FOR THE DRIZZLE
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons oyster sauce
- 2 tablespoons sweet chili sauce
- 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
- 1 teaspoon spicy chili oil
- FOR THE SLAW
- 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
- 2 teaspoons sugar
- 1 medium carrot, cut into matchsticks
- 1 scallion, sliced or cut into strips
- 1 small kirby cucumber, cut into matchsticks
- 1/4 cup chopped cilantro leaves
- Preheat the oil: add 2 inches of oil to a heavy bottomed skillet or pot over medium-high heat. Heat to 375F or until a sprinkle of flour sizzles in the oil.
- Make the drizzle: combine all ingredients in a jar or bowl, and shake or whisk to combine. Taste, and adjust the seasoning any way you like by adding more of the ingredients.
- Make the slaw: Combine the sugar and rice vinegar until the sugar dissolves, then add the carrot, scallion, and cucumber. Stir together and let sit while you fry the tofu.
- Make the batter: Whisk together the flour, salt, baking soda, and ice water until just combined - it's OK if the batter is lumpy and there are a few ice cubes in the batter. The batter should be the consistency of pancake batter.
- Dip the tofu sticks in the tempura batter, and gently place in the hot oil. The tofu should sizzle right away. Fry the tofu in batches, just a few at a time, until golden and crispy, then remove to paper towels to drain while you fry the rest of the tofu.
- To assemble, layer tofu and some of the drizzle on hot dog buns. Stir the cilantro into the slaw and serve on top of the tofu dogs. Serve with Sriracha or other hot sauce, if you'd like.