I don't mind bones in my fish, small ones in the case of sardines one of the seafood picks in Asian Tofu (Ten Speed Press, February 2012) by Andrea Nguyen . I previously shared her Sweet Tofu, Cashew and Cardamom Fudge, Soy Paneer Kaju Barfi, an Indian take on Tofu.
Today Japanese flavors.
Chilled Tofu with Crunchy Baby Sardines
Serves 4 as an appetizer
2 tablespoons canola oil
1/4 cup dried baby sardines
1 pound silken tofu or medium tofu, or 2 cups tofu pudding, chilled
4 or 5 green shiso leaves, cut into very thin strips (about 1/4 cup total)
11/2 tablespoons white sesame seeds, toasted and slightly crushed with a mortar and pestle
Japanese Seasoned Soy Concentrate (page 208) or high-quality Japanese soy sauce
1 In a small skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Meanwhile, position a mesh strainer over a bowl and have this set up near the stove; you’ll use it to quickly drain the fish.
The oil is ready when you drop in a fish and it immediately sizzles. Add all the fish and gently fry, stirring constantly, for about 1 minute, until they are fragrant and crisp. During cooking, they’ll darken, then turn golden. If you like, pick up the skillet toward the end to prevent overcooking.
Pour the contents of the skillet into the strainer. Give the strainer a good shake, then transfer the fish to a paper towel–lined plate to further drain and cool. Keep at room temperature if using within hours. Or, transfer to an airtight container and refrigerate for up to a week; return the fish to room temperature before serving.
2 If using silken tofu, run a knife around the edge of the mold or package and invert onto a plate to unmold. Pour off the excess liquid or use a paper towel to blot it away. If using block tofu, drain it on a dishtowel or double thickness of paper towels placed atop a plate. Cut the silken or block tofu into husky 1-inch-thick dominoes or 2-inch squares. Arrange them on individual dishes or in shallow bowls. If using tofu pudding, scoop up large shards with a metal spoon, putting them into a shallow bowl or individual dishes. Before serving, pour off any whey that gathers.
3 Top the tofu with some shiso and sesame seeds, and a crown of the fried fish. Serve the seasoned soy sauce on the side. If you have leftover fish, save it for a rice topping.
Sardines on the menu of Tokyo Thursdays # 230
(* Reprinted with permission from Asian Tofu: Discover the Best, Make Your Own, and Cook It at Home by Andrea Nguyen, copyright © 2012. Published by Ten Speed Press, a division of Random House, Inc, Photo credit: Maren Caruso © 2012)