To sum up in one sentence, it is deep-fried firm tofu tossed in sweet chili sauce with additional chilies and finely chopped ginger thrown in. It’s simple and truly delicious.
This is an updated recipe. The original, published in May, 2006, contained a photo the original for which I have lost long ago. It was tiny, it did not give the dish justice and, even more significantly for a food blog, it no longer corresponded to current web standards.
Updated recipe means some of the ingredients have been modified. First, the base for the sauce in original recipe has mussel broth thickened with corn starch which didn’t really make this sweet and spicy tofu dish vegetarian.
Second, I have learned to make kickass sweet chili sauce since the publication of the 2006 recipe and using it for this modified recipe simplifies everything.
Third, sprinkling toasted sesame seeds over the cooked dish not only makes it more visually appealing but also adds texture, aroma and flavor.
Here’s a little tip with firm tofu that can cut cooking time by more than 50%. The problem with tofu is that it doesn’t really last long even in the fridge. You can remedy that by pre-frying and freezing the tofu. If you cook a lot of tofu dishes at home, fry the tofu in bulk. Cut three or four tofu cakes into desired pieces, deep fry in vegetable oil, drain on paper towels, cool then store in freezer containers. Divide the fried tofu so that the content of each container is good for one complete dish. When you’re ready to cook them, take out a container and thaw the tofu completely before tossing into the hot sauce. Allow to simmer in the sauce until heated through.
Now, the recipe…
Sweet and Spicy Tofu
- 4 cloves garlic
- 1 one-inch piece ginger
- 1 to 2 bird's eye chilies
- 2 shallots
- 1 small bell pepper any color
- 1 300-gram cake firm tofu
- 2 cups cooking oil for frying
- 1/2 cup sweet chili sauce (I used homemade)
- 1 teaspoon chili garlic sauce (I used Lee Kum Kee)
- salt to taste
- ground black pepper to taste
- 1 drizzle sesame seed oil
- 1/2 teaspoon toasted sesame seeds
- 1 teaspoon finely sliced scallions
- Smash the garlic cloves; shake off and discard the skins. Mince the garlic.
- Peel the ginger and finely chop.
- Thinly slice the bird's eye chilies.
- Peel the shallots and thinly slice.
- Peel and finely slice the shallots.
- Deseed the bell pepper. Finely chop.
- Cut the tofu into bite-size pieces.
- Heat the oil in a wok or frying pan. When fine smoke float on the surface, slide in the tofu pieces one by one. Cook over high heat until the surface is browned and crisp. Scoop out and drain on a stack of paper towels.
- Pour off the oil leaving only about a tablespoonful.
- Reheat the oil. Saute the shallots, garlic, ginger, chilies and bell pepper with a bit of salt and pepper.
- Pour in the sweet chili sauce and chili garlic sauce. Stir. Taste. Adjust the amount of salt and pepper, if needed.
- Add the fried tofu to the sauce. Stir to coat each piece well. Simmer the tofu in the sauce for a minute.
- Off the heat, drizzle in the sesame seed oil and toss.
- Sprinkle the sweet and spicy tofu with toasted sesame seeds and finely sliced scallions before serving.