Summer Dinners: Thai Slaw and Crispy Pan Fried Tofu

Note:  This is an old blog post from last year that I forgot to publish until now:

Thai Slaw is the perfect dish to bring to a picnic.  It’s full of fresh crunchy veggies like cabbage and carrots but is also zingy and hearty from the peanut sauce.  For complete disclosure, I had actually meant to make this dish for a picnic on Angel Island but I didn’t wake up early enough to make this salad and catch a 9:30 am ferry (it was a Saturday morning).

Instead of eating this at a picnic, I converted this to a light dinner by serving it with thin slabs of crispy tofu which I topped with a little sheen of hoisin sauce.  While you often expect fried tofu to be heavily sauced, I was surprised at how much I liked the fried tofu plain.  As I was frying batches of tofu, I found myself nibbling on the plain fried tofu enjoying it thoroughly.  The fried tofu would be excellent with a light tempura dipping sauce.  In all, this is a healthy, delicious meal to bring to the table fast.

There might be some days where you want to make unhealthy takeout style food at home.  This tofu would be the PERFECT base for “orange tofu” or any other Chinese-American “sauce covering fried nuggets” type dish.  I haven’t tried it yet but for the time when I want something unhealthy, it is on my list.

Thai Slaw Adapted from Elizabeth Rider

Serves 4-6 people

If you’re planning on making this, (which  you should because it is easy and delicious), I would recommend visiting Elizabeth Rider’s site as the original recipe is awesome and she has some great technique videos.  My adaptations are based largely on what I already had in my pantry or fridge or appliance collection.

Cooking Notes:  I used a microplane to grate the garlic, ginger and jalapeno.  I also made the sauce before prepping the veggies so the flavors in the sauce had time to mingle with each other.


  • 4 cups shredded red cabbage
  • 1 yellow bell pepper thinly sliced
  • 2 carrots, peeled and julienned
  • 6 scallions (1 bunch) sliced into 1/4 inch rounds
  • 1/3 cup mint chopped or torn


  • 2 Tbs tamari
  • 2 Tbs apple cider vinegar
  • 2 Tbs maple syrup
  • 3 Tbs smooth peanut butter (I used a natural peanut butter where the oil and solids can separate)
  • 1 tsp toasted sesame oil
  • 1 clove garlic grated
  • 1 inch piece of ginger grated
  • 1 tsp grated japaleno (1/2-1 inch from the bottom)

Whisk together all the ingredients for the sauce.  It may look a little clumpy, especially with fresh peanut butter but keep mixing until it comes together.

After prepping the veggies, toss the cabbage, bell pepper, carrots and scallions together in a large bowl.  Rewhisk the sauce, pour it over the veggies and toss until everything is well mixed together.

Fried Tofu

Serves 3

I had remembered reading in several recipes to dredge tofu in corn starch before pan frying so I tried it out.  Kitchn has a more detailed technique which is I highly recommend reading through.

  • 8 oz block of firm or extra firm tofu (I used a block of Wildwood)
  • 1/3 cup corn starch for dredging the tofu
  • vegetable oil (or another mild oil with a high smoke point) for pan frying
  • 2 Tbs Hoisin sauce

Slice tofu into thin slabs.  Mine were about 1/3 inch by 1 inch by 2.5 inches.  This gives more surface area for crispiness.  Pat them dry with a paper towel.

Pour ~3 Tbsp oil into a frying pan over medium-high heat.

Add the corn starch to a medium-sized plate.  Dredge the tofu in the corn starch so it is lightly coated on all sides with corn starch.

Working in batches and adding more oil as necessary, pan-fry the tofu over medium to medium high heat.  Flip over the pieces when a solid crispy crust has formed on the tofu and is very lightly golden (it will not form a rich golden or red-gold crust).  It should take about 3-4 minutes on each side.  After removing from the heat, lay out on plates lined with paper towels to soak up extra oil.

Brush the top of each tofu piece lightly with hoisin sauce.  Divide into 3 servings and serve with a hearty scoop of slaw on the side.  Serve immediately.

Curried Corn and Potato Soup


How do you make a hot summer soup that is hearty enough to be a meal but not siesta inducing?  This question and a picture of a chef shaving off kernels of corn in Ottolenghi’s Plenty serve as the inspirations of this soup.

I wanted the soup to be served hot and highlight the sweetness of fresh-off-the-cob corn.  At the same time, some potato would add substance and body to the soup.  I decided to use two lonely mushrooms in my fridge to add some umami flavor.

I am very happy with how the soup turned out and would definitely make it again. If you don’t have all the spices, you can experiment with flavors that you have in your own pantry.

The only thing I would change for next time would be to leave out the buttermilk.  The corn and potato bring plenty of flavor and vegetal creaminess.  This soup would be nice to serve with chips and fresh guacamole.

<h2>Curried Corn and Potato Soup</h2>

Serves 3

  • 2 ears of corn, shucked
  • 2 small red-skinned potatoes, scrubbed well and finely diced into 1/4 in. thick pieces the size of corn kernels.
  • 2 mushrooms (optional), finely chopped
  • 1 clove of garlic finely chopped
  • 1 small yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 10-20 fresh curry leaves (you’ll need less if you’re using fresh leaves and more if you are using frozen leaves)
  • 3 Tbs vegetable oil
  • Tiny pinch asafoetida (optional)
  • 1/2 tsp salt or to taste
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder or to taste
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • 1 cup buttermilk (optional but I’d probably omit next time)

Corn Soup IngredientsIMG_0331

  1. Heat oil over medium high heat in a wide frying pan that will be deep enough to hold all ingredients.
  2. Add the asafoetida and curry leaves to release the flavors of these spices.
  3. Add onions and cook for 5 minutes until translucent.  Then, add mushrooms and potatoes.  Stir occasionally.  Cook for another 5-7 min.
  4. While the other ingredients are cooking, use a sharp knife to shave kernels off the cobs of corn.
  5. Check a piece of potato.  It should be relatively soft but may have a little bite.  Add the garlic and reduce to medium heat.  Cook for 1 minute.
  6. Add corn kernels, salt and spices and fry for another 3 minutes.
  7. Stir in 1/2 cup of water and cook for another 10 minutes or until the potatoes have cooked through.  If you are adding buttermilk, reduce heat to low and heat until the buttermilk has been warmed through.
  8. If you want a very pretty soup, you can remove all the curry leaves at this point.  Add half the solids to a food processor and blend to a paste.  Add this paste back to the soup and stir until the soup is evenly thickened.  Add water if you wish to thin out the soup more.  Reheat if the soup has cooled.
  9. Divide the soup among 3 bowls and serve.  You can garnish with fried curry leaves if you’d like.

* Confession – I’ve never actually had chowder but recalling from memory, many seem to have potatoes and corn.