water, in spray bottle preferred
oil (for frying)
Topping: 1/4 tbsp salt + 1/4 tbsp white pepper + 1/4 tbsp cayenne, combined in small bowl.
Topping: fried basil
Tofu preparation: drain tofu, place in freezer for 6-8 hours. Then thaw tofu and freeze again. Thaw tofu again. After thawing tofu for second time, wrap tofu in towel and press for 10 minutes using a heavy weight. Then tear tofu into 2/3 inch chunks and set aside in a large mixing bowl.
In the tofu bowl, add soy sauce, garlic power, five spice, white pepper, salt, cayenne pepper, paprika, sugar, and flour. Toss together so tofu chunks are evenly coated.
In separate bowl, add cornstarch. Using spray bottle, spray cornstarch lightly with water, and wait 10 seconds. Repeat 3-4x. Then lightly whisk cornstarch together (you should see large clumps of cornstarch forming). Dip a few tofu pieces (enough for 1 round of frying) in cornstarch, then shake off excess and place in another bowl.
Fill wok or deep pan with 1 inch of oil, and stir in 1/2 tbsp of cornstarch (to help prevent splatter). Heat oil to 350F. Then add tofu to pan and fry until golden brown. Place popcorn tofu onto towel or cooling rack when done. Repeat coating and frying process until all tofu is fried. Optional: fry some basil to add as topping.
Place popcorn tofu in mixing bowl and sprinkle on salt, white pepper and cayenne mixture. Toss until all fried tofu pieces are evenly coated. Tip: add topping a bit at a time to avoid over-salting. If popcorn tofu needs more salt or spiciness, add salt and cayenne according to taste. Enjoy with a side of sweet chili sauce.