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Barley "Tofu" With Garlicky Chili Oil

April 14, 2021
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Photo by Jenny Dorsey
Author Notes

This recipe is a result of some experimenting with shan tofu. And, thinking: "Hm, I think barley flour might do the same thing!" since at the time I had a lot of barley flour at my house, as I was writing a recipe book for Avatar: the Last Airbender. So I thought, "Why don't I try it out, see if it congeals in the same way?" and lo and behold—it did.

This recipe was featured on our new cook-along podcast Play Me a Recipe. Listen as Jenny whisks, grates, and sizzles her way through this recipe offering insider tips and backstory along the way.Jenny Dorsey

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Barley "Tofu" With Garlicky Chili Oil
  • Prep time 12 hours
  • Cook time 25 minutes
  • Serves 2
Ingredients
  • Barley "tofu"
  • 3/4 cup (100 grams) barley flour
  • 1 3/4 cups (375 grams). water
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • Neutral oil, for frying
  • Chili oil
  • 8 dried red chili peppers
  • 1 tablespoon whole red Sichuan peppercorns
  • 2 teaspoons whole white peppercorns
  • 1 2-inch knob of ginger, peeled and minced
  • 3 stalks scallion, stemmed and minced
  • 5 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
  • 1 cup neutral oil
  • Kosher salt, to taste
  • White sugar, to taste
  • White vinegar, to taste
  • Fish sauce, to taste (optional)
In This Recipe
Directions
  1. Barley "tofu"
  2. Whisk together barley flour, water, and salt until smooth in a medium pot.
  3. Heat mixture over medium heat, whisking continuously for at least 10 minutes, until it thickens considerably and the raw flour taste is gone.
  4. Quickly transfer barley mixture to a small nonstick loaf pan or brownie pan, and place plastic wrap directly on top of the mixture.
  5. Place a flat, heavy item directly on top of the plastic wrap to flatten the mixture until it’s smooth at top. Ideally, the mixture has now been pressed into a rectangular shape that meets the edges of the pan you are using.
  6. Let rest 4 hours or more before unmolding and slicing.
  7. Remove barley tofu from pan, and slice into rectangles or squares of your choosing.
  8. Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat until slick and shiny.
  9. Add barley tofu and pan fry on all sides until golden brown.
  10. Drain on paper towels, and serve with sauce(s) or garnish of your choice.
  1. Chili oil
  2. Preheat oven to 400F.
  3. Toast chiles on a sheet tray, 1-2 minutes, until darkened but not black.
  4. Remove and let cool completely. Pulverize into powder with a spice grinder.
  5. Dry toast Sichuan peppercorn and white pepper in a small skillet over medium heat until lightly fragrant, approximately 2 to 3 minutes.
  6. Let cool completely, and grind coarsely with a spice grinder.
  7. Combine chilies with spices, ginger, scallion, garlic in a heat-proof container.
  8. Heat oil in a small pot over medium heat until it reaches 300°F.
  9. Carefully pour oil over chili mixture. It will bubble and steam immensely. Stir to combine, and let cool completely.
  10. Season with salt, sugar, vinegar, and fish sauce (if using) to taste.
  11. Let chili oil infuse in refrigerator overnight before serving.

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