Chickpeas can do a lot, but chickpea flour? It might be even more versatile. In the case of Burmese tofu (also known as Shan tofu for the state in the northeast part of the country where it originated), chickpea flour gets mixed with water and cooked into a gruel that resembles polenta. It's then transferred to a pan, where it cools into a firm but forgiving block that also resembles... well... polenta—but with a smooth jiggle and a nutty, bitter edge that makes it enjoyable to eat as-is, cube by cube.
It's got what I've always longed for from flabby, supermarket soy tofu (and polenta, too, for that matter): bold flavor, velvety texture. And, unlike tofu, it's easy to make at home.
This recipe is barely adapted from Sarah Britton of My New Roots, who followed a recipe on NetCooks from Christina Aung. —Sarah Jampel
one 8- by 8-inch pan
1 1/2 cups
(175 grams) chickpea flour (or besan)
7 1/2 cups
coconut oil or ghee
fine grain sea salt
1 1/2 teaspoons
ground turmeric (optional)
garlic powder (optional)
In This Recipe
In a very large bowl, stir together the chickpea flour and the water until no dry spots remain. Cover with a kitchen towel and leave undisturbed for 8 to 12 hours.
By this point, the mixture will have separated and you'll have a fair amount of cloudy water on top. Use a ladle to remove 6 cups of that water from the top of the bowl. Line an 8- by 8-inch baking pan with cheesecloth or a dish towel you don't care about staining.
In a medium saucepan, melt the oil or ghee over medium heat. Pour the remaining liquid from the top of the bowl into the pan (it's okay if you have to leave a little of it behind) and add the salt, turmeric, and garlic powder and whisk to combine. Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, for 20 to 25 minutes, until the mixture simmers and thickens.
Now pour in the chickpea sludge. The mixture will start to thicken instantly. Whisk for 5 to 10 minutes, until the mixture is very thick and starting to pull away from the pan.
Pour the thickened chickpea mixture into the pan and smooth out the top. Fold the edges of the cheesecloth or towel over top and let sit at room temperature for 6 to 8 hours.
Flip the pan onto a cutting board, pull away the cloth, and slice into cubes or strips. Store in the fridge for up to 1 week.
I pan-fried pieces in a non-stick pan in a bit of hot olive oil, which made them crisp on the outside and creamy on the inside, but the tofu is good as-is, too. (I had a bit of trouble pan-frying the tofu in pans that were not non-stick.)
A (former) student of English, a lover of raisins, a user of comma splices. My spirit animal is an eggplant. I'm probably the person who picked all of the cookie dough out of the cookie dough ice cream. For that, I'm sorry.