“Excuse me, which flour would you recommend for frying tofu?”
I was rushing to pick up some cheap salt (as opposed to expensive sea salt) at Fairprice Toa Payoh the other day for washing veggies and fruits when this timid question stopped me in my tracks.
“You are speaking to me?”
“Yes,” she replied.
“Errrr… I don’t really know…”
That sounded unfriendly or worse, admitting I’m stupid, so I quickly qualified that with “I don’t eat fried food, so that’s why I don’t know..”
Back came her helpful: “I was thinking whether I should use ordinary flour or tempura flour?”
I was on to firmer ground. Even though I don’t eat fried food, I do know tempura has light batter and is deep fried.
“Well, tempura flour sounds better than ordinary flour…”
“I’ve a recipe that requires pan-fried tofu,” she expanded, helpfully.
I was definitely onto firm ground here: pan-fried versus deep fried.
Speaking in my best expert voice, I said: “Well, if the recipe says pan fried, why would you need any flour? That’s for making batter for deep frying.”
“Oh? That so? You are right. Then I won’t need any flour.”
She returned the various types of flour packs she had been studying to the shelves, thanked me and we made our way to the check out.
I’m not sure I gave her the correct advice.
But then, when seeking advice from stranger aunties in supermarkets about cooking, a rookie cook should do better than ask one who is only buying salt. For what seasoned cook would go to a supermarket just to buy salt?