Crispy Tofu with Spicy Tomato Sauce

Golden and Crispy Tofu served with a Vietnamese Spicy Tomato Sauce. This dish will win over both vegetarians and meat-lovers alike! Use either silken tofu or firm tofu.

crispy tofu topped with a spicy tomato sauce on a plate with brown napkin

I had to renew my work visa the other day, which necessitated a trip to the immigration office so that I could be fingerprinted and all the rest. The only thing worse than taking an hour out of my day to visit a government office was posing for my mug shot and realising that I would be stuck with that photo everytime I have to go through passport control in the next 12 months. Someone ought to fix the lighting in those photo booths …

Thankfully, my time at the immigration office was over in 5 minutes (that’s Swiss efficiency for you) and as I walked back to the tram stop, I popped into the Asian grocer nearby to see what I could pick up for dinner that night. It was not a store I had frequently visited before and I was giddy with excitement by how well-stocked it was. I was particularly surprised to see a large selection of different types of tofu, including silken tofu which I had never come across before in Zurich.

In the past few months, I had tried some new tofu recipes from Luke Nguyen’s The Songs of Sapa. However, at the time, I could only find firm or fried tofu in Zurich, which worked well in these recipes but I was anxious to try them with the more soft and tender silken tofu. So I stocked up on half a dozen tubs of silken tofu in preparation for some tofu feasts in the days ahead.

Tonight, I made Luke Nguyen’s Crisp Silken Tofu in a Tomato and Black Pepper Sauce. My mother makes a similar dish which I absolutely love; it’s full of fresh ingredients and easy to make during the week. Though, I seem to only have white pepper in my kitchen, something which I think I’ve picked up from my mum who has an aversion to black pepper.

Luke’s recipe calls for the tofu to be deep-fried before it is added to the sauce. I have tried doing this a few times but my tofu pieces seem to soak up the oil like crazy – maybe it’s the type of tofu I’m using? So I prefer to lightly coat the tofu pieces in cornflour before deep-frying them in order to produce a nice, crunchy coating.

The tomato sauce in this recipe is a rather common sauce in most Vietnamese homes and which is also delicious served with grilled fish or chicken. The sauce is a little salty from the fish sauce, but it is perfect when served with steamed jasmine rice. All in all, it’s a lovely and comforting dish.

I’ve only tried a few recipes from The Songs of Sapa, though I use it more as a guide when I want to recreate some Vietnamese dishes. I think Luke Nguyen is a fantastic ambassador for Vietnam and its cuisine. If you love Vietnamese food, The Songs of Sapa is a must-have in your cookbook collection.

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Crispy Tofu with Spicy Tomato Sauce

Golden and Crispy Tofu served with a Vietnamese Spicy Tomato Sauce. This dish will win over both vegetarians and meat-lovers alike! Use either silken tofu or firm tofu.

  • Author: eatlittlebird.com
  • Prep Time: 10 mins
  • Cook Time: 30 mins
  • Total Time: 40 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 2 to 3

Ingredients

  • vegetable oil for deep-frying
  • 300 g silken tofu
  • about 1 cup cornflour (cornstarch) for dusting
  • 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
  • 1 shallot or small red onion, finely chopped
  • 1 red chilli, finely sliced
  • 4 ripe tomatoes, diced
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • pinch of sea salt
  • freshly ground pepper
  • 1/21 tablespoon fish sauce
  • 35 sprigs of spring onions, cut into 3cm lengths
  • coriander (cilantro), finely chopped

Instructions

  1. Heat the oil in a small wok or saucepan to 180°C (350°F). You will need about 3 cm (1 inch) depth of oil.
  2. Cut the tofu into about 3 cm pieces and blot them with paper towels.
  3. Place the cornflour (cornstarch) into a soup plate or bowl.
  4. Coat the tofu pieces in the cornflour and shake off any excess.
  5. Deep-fry the tofu for a few minutes until they are crispy and lightly coloured.
  6. Remove the tofu with a slotted spoon and drain them on a wire rack over a tray or plate.
  7. In a clean saucepan, heat about a tablespoon of oil and add the garlic, shallot and chilli.
  8. Cook for a few minutes until the mixture is fragrant.
  9. Add the tomatoes, sugar, salt, pepper and fish sauce. Cook for about 5 to 10 minutes on medium-high heat until the tomatoes have softened and the sauce has thickened a little.
  10. Taste for seasoning.
  11. Add the spring onions and coriander.
  12. Arrange the tofu on a plate and spoon over the tomato sauce.
  13. Garnish with some more chopped coriander.
  14. Serve with steamed jasmine rice.

Kitchen Notes

CONVERSIONS
To convert from cups to grams, and vice-versa, please see this handy Conversion Chart for Basic Ingredients.

Nutrition

  • Serving Size: 1
  • Calories: 286
  • Sugar: 8.9g
  • Sodium: 277.9mg
  • Fat: 5.3g
  • Carbohydrates: 53.1g
  • Fiber: 3.4g
  • Protein: 7.1g
  • Cholesterol: 2.3mg

Did you make this recipe?

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8 comments

  1. Anita Menon 22 August 2011

    I love the photos. It seems like a very appetizing dish. The recipe section looks so good.

    Reply
  2. Julia @ Mélanger 24 August 2011

    Love that book, too. Have it in my collection. Well, actually my husband uses it most. So glad you found a new grocery store ! 🙂

    Reply
  3. thepatternedplate 24 August 2011

    You don’t need me to sing the praises of this book to you, again!! The few tofu recipes are absolute winners and I wish there were more. I make this recipe everytime I need something easy to make, delicious, light and fresh. I tend to shallow fry my tofu and add some greens at the end…I love this recipe! I love the book! And I love your photos!

    Reply
  4. Zach D 2 January 2012

    Wow I am super excited about this recipe. I am definitely making it tomorrow. I opened up a package of silken tofu by accident so I am going to make this.

    Reply
    • eat, little bird 2 January 2012

      Oh wonderful! Please let me know how the recipe works out for you. This recipe is now a regular in our home. Even though the deep-frying of the tofu takes a bit of time, the end result is definitely worth it!

      Reply
  5. Quynh Anh 11 April 2012

    add in some dill together with coriander and the green onion, it’s good too. 🙂 (I would chop them in a smaller size).

    Reply
    • eat, little bird 11 April 2012

      Dill? Now that’s a herb I rarely use but I do like it. I would never have thought to use it in Vietnamese cooking (I guess the Vietnamese borrow it from the French) but I think it would work in this dish. Thanks for the tip!

      Reply
  6. Julia 16 April 2018

    Good idea! Looks very tasty! Thanks for the recipe!

    Reply