I've always thought it odd when people cook tofu as a meat substitute. Sure. Sure. Tofu has lots of protein. But I'm talking about the taste here. I like the taste of tofu. I like it plain. I like it fried. I like it added to meats, not in place of, but simply because tofu soaks up the flavor of so many sauces.
So when Sijeleng of Javaholic, host of last month's Weekend Wokking garlic round-up, chose TOFU for this month's challenge, it was time to do this simple dish.
Last March, as in '09 and not two months ago, one of my readers asked for a recipe for tofu with tomatoes. Tomatoes or tomato paste? Fried or not? How can he recreate his mom's cooking?
Umm. He knows I'm not his momma, right?
All last week, someone kept searching for Dau Hu Chien Sot Ca Chua (Vietnamese Fried Tofu with Tomato Sauce). Well, sure, I've got a recipe for Dau Hu Chien (Vietnamese Fried Tofu) and another for Ca Chien Sot Ca Chua (Vietnamese Fried Fish with Tomato Sauce). An industrious person would cobble the two recipes into what he or she needed.
But I know how lazy you guys are. So I give you two fried tofu versions -- lightly battered in rice flour and deep-fried, and unadorned and pan-fried. Gluten-free and vegetarian-friendly too, just use all rice flour without corn starch and substitute vegetarian "fish sauce" or soy sauce.
The lightly battered version below was made with a combination of mochiko (Japanese sweet rice flour) and corn starch. Normally, I would just use regular rice flour but had run out of it in my pantry.
If you don't want to deep-fry, you can easily just pan-fry instead. And skip the batter too if you don't feel like it. The tofu will still be crispy, but the texture will be slightly different.
Dau Hu Chien Sot Ca Chua (Vietnamese Fried Tofu with Tomato Sauce)
For 2 to 4 servings, or about 8 pieces, you'll need:
1 16-oz block tofu
1/4 cup rice flour or glutinous rice flour
1/4 cup corn starch
3 Roma tomatoes, small dice
2 large shallots, finely diced
1 tsp Nuoc Mam (Vietnamese Fish Sauce)
This step is optional. You can drain and pat the tofu dry and fry it just fine. Or you can squeeze out excess moisture.
Just add a few paper towels to the bottom of a bowl. Place the block of drained tofu on top. Add a few more paper towels on top of that. Place another plate on top, making sure the surface of the plate is large enough to cover and flatten the tofu. Then place something heavy on top of that. I used my mortar, but a few cans would work as well.
The longer the tofu is pressed, the more liquid will be squeezed out.
Cut into cubes and pan-fry until golden if that's all you want to do.
Or, add 1/4 cup rice flour and 1/4 cup corn starch into a shallow bowl. Mix up the flours. Dredge the tofu into the mixture. Do it twice. The coating will look a little thick, but it'll get absorbed by the tofu and once fried, will be pretty lightly crispy.
Deep-fry on medium heat until the tofu is crispy. Drain and set aside.
While the tofu is frying, add 3 Roma tomatoes and 2 diced shallots into a small pot. Add 1/2 a cup of water and 1 tsp fish sauce, or vegetarian fish sauce or soy sauce if you prefer. Simmer on medium-low.
By the time the tofu is all crispy and drained, the tomato sauce will have reduced to this.
Pour the tomato sauce over the tofu and serve with rice as a side dish or as your whole meal, like I did.
I'm submitting this recipe to Weekend Wokking, a world-wide food blogging event created by Wandering Chopsticks to celebrate the multiple ways we can cook one ingredient.
This month's secret ingredient is TOFU. The host is Sweatha of Tasty Curry Leaf. Check her blog for the tofu round-up with 8 recipes (once mine gets added). :P
My other tofu recipes:
Bun Rieu Cua Tom Oc (Vietnamese Crab and Shrimp Rice Vermicelli Noodle Soup with Snails)
Chinese Hot and Sour Soup
Dau Hu Chien (Vietnamese Fried Tofu)
Dau Hu Nhoi Cha Tom voi Sot Chao Ot (Vietnamese Shrimp Paste-Stuffed Tofu with Fermented Bean Curd Chili Sauce)
Dubu Chorim (Korean Fried Tofu with Soy Sauce)
Ma Po Tofu (Chinese Pockmarked Old Lady's Tofu)
Soon Dubu Kimchee Chigae (Korean Soft Tofu Kimchee Soup)
Vegetarian Soon Dubu Jjigae (Korean Tofu Stew)
Taiwanese Popcorn Tofu
Thit Heo Kho Dau Hu (Vietnamese Braised Pork with Tofu)
Yong Tau Foo (Chinese Stuffed Tofu)
1 year ago today, Bridal Veil Falls - Columbia River Gorge - Oregon.
2 years ago today, Mang Cau (Vietnamese Cherimoya).
3 years ago today, a bounty of avocados resulted in Guacamole.