You like tofu? Fried tofu? So do I. And I enjoyed this sweet sticky tofu dish tremendously.
Most Filipinos know only one way to enjoy their fried tofu (or tokwa as it is locally known) — as the other half of boiled pork in a dish called tokwa’t baboy, the traditional accompaniment for lugaw (congee). No doubt that fried tofu is great served that way but I like variety in the way I eat my tofu so I’m forever experimenting with what goes well with it.
Instead of deep-frying tofu, I fried the tofu cubes in a few tablespoonfuls of oil. By moving them around almost constantly over high heat, they brown evenly even if they aren’t swimming in oil. Then, I drained them on a stack of paper towels and poured off whatever oil remained in the wok before tossing the fried tofu with the sauce. Result? Non-greasy sweet sticky tofu.
- 1 cake firm tofu
- 5 tablespoons cooking oil
- 4 cloves garlic finely minced
- 2 tablespoons oyster sauce for strict vegetarians, there arevegetarian oyster sauces
- 2 tablespoons hoisin sauce
- 1 tablespoon chili garlic sauce
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
Cut the tofu into 1-1/2 inch squares.
Heat the cooking oil in a non-stick wok or frying pan until it starts to smoke. Add the tofu to the hot oil making sure, as much as possible, that every piece touches the oiled bottom of the wok. Do not stir during the first minute or two. Then, stir. Continue cooking over high heat, stirring very frequently, until all sides form a light brown crust. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels.
Pour off all the oil that remains in the wok or frying pan. Turn the heat down to medium. Add the garlic and lightly fry until fragrant, about a minute. Pour in the sauces and the cilantro, and stir to combine. Add the cooked tofu and cook, stirring constantly, until the tofu cubes are evenly coated with the combined sauces.
Now, here’s the trick during the last part of cooking when you mix the tofu with the sauces. If the temperature is too hot, the sugars will burn. If the temperature is too low, you’ll get soggy tofu. But if the temperature is just right, the sugars in the sauces will caramelize and form a sweet-sticky-crisp coating on the tofu cubes. That makes the sweet sticky tofu simply perfect. Enjoy it with rice or with nothing else, it’s delicious every which way.