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The first recipes on this blog featured my then-obsession, Chickpea Tofu, also known as Shan or Burmese Tofu.  I had it and Mingala, a Burmese restaurant on East 6th street which, I found out yesterday, has closed!!! NO!!!!

In memory of the great Mingala (and also because I promised a recipe almost a YEAR ago), here is how to make the precious Chickfu.

The process to making Chickfu is much like polenta in that you boil the chickpea flour in water until it is thick then put it in a mold to cool.  In this sense, you don’t get that satisfying ooh! aah!! that you might get when watching traditional soy tofu clump in the pot like magic alchemy, but that’s also why you’ll be making this a lot more often than you’ll be making soyfu.

First thing to do is get your hands on some chickpea flour. You can find this for beaucoup bucks at Whole Foods or, if you’re lucky, for about $5 for 5 lbs at the local indian grocery store.

Chickpea Flour, graceful and melodic.

I usually weigh my ingredients out on a small digital scale.  I simply press the tare button to reset the scale to zero every time I add a new ingredient.  This is super convenient because not only can I dump all the ingredients directly in one bowl, I also don’t have to wash any annoying measuring cups or spoons.If you’re the washing type, though, I’ll give you those measurements too.

Take 9 cups (4.5 lbs/2040g) of water and mix it up with 3 cups (15 oz/437g) of chickpea flour.  Set it aside to soak for 12 hours or more.

Now, in Myanmar (Burma to those of a certain age), these would be made with real chickpeas, soaked then ground. You’ll find recipes online like this one that tell you to soak in much more water than I indicate, strain it, then skim off the top 6 cups of water.  As far as I can tell, that harkens to the traditional mode of preparation where you would need to strain off hulls or stones, the skim off scum and any remaining hulls floating on the surface. Working with chickpea flour eliminates the need for all of that. Besides, every time I tried to do it the “traditional way”, I ended up with flavorless yellow jello that never solidified. This was probably because “straining and discarding solids” as indicated gets rid of much of the starch which we will need later to coagulate the tofu.

Okay, assuming reading that paragraph took you 12 hours, your chickpea slurry is ready. A yellow sludge should have settled on the bottom of the container, with a cloudy liquid floating above.

Before 12 Hour Paragraph

After 12 Hour Paragraph

Carefully pour this cloudy liquid into a saucepan and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer for 15 minutes, or until it has reduced by a third.

Add 1/2 t turmeric and 2 tsp kosher salt and whisk well.

While on medium heat, pour the settled sludge into the saucepan, whisking constantly for 5 minutes.

Sludge Time

It should start to thicken considerably. Make sure to keep whisking to keep lumps at bay.

Chickfu-to-Be

At this thick porridge-like state, the Burmese like to serve it on noodles, garnished with crisped peanuts, chilis, garlic, onion, soy sauce, vinegar and cilantro (kinda like a creamy pad-thai). Taste it. It tastes a little like polenta, doesn’t it?

Pour this mixture into an oiled mold (I usually use a loaf pan), and refrigerate until it sets.

Chickfu

When ready, you can cut it into triangles and fry it in the traditional manner and serve it on a salad like I do here. Cut it into sticks and make chickpea fries or croutons. Cut thin slices straight from the fridge and throw it in a sandwich.  Use it any way you would use regular tofu. Just expect it to be yummier.

Chickfu will last about a week in the fridge. Any longer than that and you should freeze it, either whole or in slices. Defrost slowly in the refrigerator as opposed to the counter top.

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