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Monday, May 03, 2010

Dau Hu Chien Sot Ca Chua (Vietnamese Fried Tofu with Tomato Sauce)

Dau Hu Chien Sot Ca Chua (Vietnamese Fried Tofu with Tomato Sauce) 11

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.

Dau Hu Chien Sot Ca Chua (Vietnamese Fried Tofu with Tomato Sauce) 2

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) 3

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.

Dau Hu Chien Sot Ca Chua (Vietnamese Fried Tofu with Tomato Sauce) 4

The longer the tofu is pressed, the more liquid will be squeezed out.

Dau Hu Chien Sot Ca Chua (Vietnamese Fried Tofu with Tomato Sauce) 5

Cut into cubes and pan-fry until golden if that's all you want to do.

Dau Hu Chien Sot Ca Chua (Vietnamese Fried Tofu with Tomato Sauce) 6

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.

Dau Hu Chien Sot Ca Chua (Vietnamese Fried Tofu with Tomato Sauce) 7

Deep-fry on medium heat until the tofu is crispy. Drain and set aside.

Dau Hu Chien Sot Ca Chua (Vietnamese Fried Tofu with Tomato Sauce) 8

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.

Dau Hu Chien Sot Ca Chua (Vietnamese Fried Tofu with Tomato Sauce) 9

By the time the tofu is all crispy and drained, the tomato sauce will have reduced to this.

Dau Hu Chien Sot Ca Chua (Vietnamese Fried Tofu with Tomato Sauce) 10

Pour the tomato sauce over the tofu and serve with rice as a side dish or as your whole meal, like I did.

Dau Hu Chien Sot Ca Chua (Vietnamese Fried Tofu with Tomato Sauce) 1


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.


  1. i love this dish, it reminds me of home. i haven't had it in a very long time, i don't like to fry stuff at my place. my fave way to eat this dish tho (and i do love tofu) is drizzling the tomato sauce over my rice... which in essense is kinda like spaghetti, except with rice.

  2. Oh I completely agree about liking the taste of tofu and not understanding this need to use it as a substitute for meat! I actually feel like dishes which are created around the tofu flavor usually end up tasting a whole lot better than recipes which are supposed to be meat dishes but just substitute with tofu.

  3. Gluten-free. The words that make my heart -sing-. They look -fantastic-, both versions and I love tofu so this is great! Thank you so much. :)

    I also wound up futzing a version of gluten-free okonomiyaki, if you ever need one for whatever reason. It might not taste like the real thing, since I've never really had it apart from bad supermarket versions, but as long as I could eat this one, it worked great.

    I bought pork ribs today too! I'm going to make that papaya soup asap!

  4. "An industrious person would cobble the two recipes into what he or she needed."


  5. I make something similar to this, but making it a little bit sour...sweat some green onions and tomatoes, hit it with a lime or tamarand powder, some fish sauce, and a little bit of water...toss the fried tofu in and let simmer for a bit for the tofu to absorb the tomato.

    I might give this a try....it looks good :D

  6. Mmm, thanks for this! I might give it a whirl. Happy you mentioned squeezing the water out. It's a step that most people leave out. I had to tell my friend about it once, and he acted like I had shared a very valuable secret. Maybe it is! :D


  7. I admit, I eat the 99 Ranch Market take out version of this probably a little too much...

  8. I make this sometimes with pan fried tofu but with bigger pieces of tomato and onion with no fish sauce. Your picture of the tofu in rice flour looks like yummy pieces of square mochi! :)

  9. I too use tofu as a meat and cheese substitute and also in snacking.Love your dish can easily be made vegan and gluten free.I have also added you dish in the round up.Thanks

  10. I've often thought it funny too that tofu is only considered as a meat substitute and not a main ingredient on its own. I've been meaning to make this recipe! Thanks for the reminder!!

  11. Sounds delicious. I must try this at home...especially since I have most of these ingredients on hand at all times. Thanks!

  12. Lan,
    Pan-frying is good too, but nothing beats deep-frying for crispiness! I love tomatoes and yes, the best part is the tomato sauce on top.

    True! Reminds me of a mushroom tasting I went to where they tried to hide mushrooms amidst other ingredients. I love mushrooms. Make it the central part of a dish, don't disguise it.

    I'm sure you know far more than I do how to make gluten-free dishes. For I moment there, I got confused whether soy was gluten free? Ack!

    People are lazy. They never want to figure things out for themselves!

    Wandering Programmer,
    Tamarind. Nice!

    Squeezing out the water IS the secret! :)

    Don't we all at one time or another? :P

    Haha. Well, they are all the same ingredients. Rice flour!

    Tofu is so versatile. I love it.

    I know, right? Well, I guess tofu lovers don't need convincing, just other people do.

    You could do it with soy sauce instead of fish sauce.


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