Vietnamese fried tofu in tomato sauce is a simple and delicious home-style rice dish. It is made with premade tofu puffs and canned tomatoes so you can save time and effort while still having a delicious meal.
Steph and I had a bit of a laugh the other day. It appears most of my mates think that Steph and I eat the most exciting and delicious home made food. They picture us laughing at the dinner table with our meals made from scratch with a bottle of wine that has been well researched and paired accordingly.
Well, nothing could be further from the truth. Just the other day I did this thing where I sandwich instant noodles between two pieces of bread and then dunked it into the soup! Of course I will never admit to it since these days carb on carb is pretty much on par with murder. But to be completely honest, I believe Steph and I eat a lot worse now that we have become food bloggers which defies all reasoning.
One reasonably healthy thing we have been eating though is this tofu and tomato sauce dish.
Vietnamese Fried Tofu in Tomato Sauce
Today’s post is an update of a older recipe on the blog. We have included new pictures, recipe and tips to make this family favourite even better. We hope you like it!
In my household we usually have tofu one of two ways. The first way is basically prison food. I simply pan-fry the tofu with a little corn starch and serve it with shrimp paste and lemon juice. I have been told by many people that it is an acquired taste but I promise you it’s popular among the Vietnamese.
The second and probably by far the most popular way is this tofu in tomato sauce dish. There are two main components to this dish, the tofu and the tomato sauce. Traditionally, everything is made from scratch but as you probably guessed, life these days is all about making a few short cuts here and there. So whenever we can, we have used premade ingredients to make it that much easier!
The Fried Tofu (Tofu Puffs)
The tofu puffs provides the bulk in this dish.
There is one thing I have learnt when using tofu puffs in this dish, and that is to cut them in half! Why? Tofu puffs have a skin on them that is hard for the sauce to penetrate. To get a nice plump tofu puff full of sauce you would have to cook them much longer. The problem with this is the tofu puffs overcook and wilt.
To avoid this, and to shorten the cooking time greatly, you should cut the puffs in half. This way the sauce can enter the tofu freely leaving a juicy plump puff full of flavour.
Some tips from personal experience when using and buying tofu puffs:
- Tofu puffs are usually available at Asian groceries. I have yet to see them at mainstream grocers but the international food section is getting better all the time.
- Try to get the smaller cubes, roughly 2 -3 cm. Anything bigger and the inside parts may break up too much in the sauce.
- The fresher the tofu puffs the better. The puffs tend to dry out and go hard the closer they get to the expiry date. Also, the condensation inside the packet builds up over time and you may get soggy bits here and there.
- In my experience they tend to go mouldy a few days earlier then the expiry date. If you notice any black or reddish dots then the best thing is to get another packet.
The Tomato Sauce
The best part of this dish is the sauce! This is where all the flavour is. I honestly could just have the sauce with a big bowl of hot jasmine rice and be completely satisfied.
It has been a long time since we first published this recipe and in that time we have learnt quite a bit. Here are a few improvements we have made to our previous recipe:
- Infuse the garlic into the oil – This technique is used by the Italians when making aglio e olio (olive oil and garlic pasta). The garlic is slowly infused into the oil to get more flavour. To do this, add oil and garlic into a cold fry pan and allow it slowly come to temperature.
- Use vegetable stock powder (Vegeta) – This helps give the sauce body and also takes the edge off the canned tomatoes. This is a must!
- Add fresh tomatoes – I add extra tomatoes to the sauce to give it texture and pops of tomato flavour.
- MORE SAUCE – Since the tofu puffs are cut in half, they soak up much more sauce. So to compensate, I’ve increased the sauce quantity in this recipe.
Putting it All Together
The last thing to do once your tomato sauce is ready is to combine the tofu with the sauce. Let it simmer on low heat and give the tofu ample time to soak up the sauce and plump up. Be sure not to over cook them because they will begin to wilt and look a little shabby.
Once done, add in the onions and let it sit for a few minutes in the heat to take the edge off. Then serve!
Other Recipes Similar to Vietnamese Fried Tofu in Tomato Sauce
- Vietnamese Stuffed Tomatoes (Ca Chua Nhoi Thit)
- Vietnamese Beef and Celery in Tomato Sauce
- Simple Pork and Black Fungus Mince
- Bok Choy and Shiitake Mushroom Stir Fry
- Chinese Home-Style Eggs in Tomatoes
- Vietnamese Beef and Watercress Salad – Bo Xao Sa Lat Soong
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We hope you will enjoy this recipe as much as we have over the years.
Scruff & Steph
Easy Vietnamese Fried Tofu in Tomato Sauce
- 1½ tbsp canola oil
- 3 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 2 tomatoes, cut into large chunks
- 400 gm canned crushed tomatoes
- 1 cup water
- ½ tsp salt
- ½ tsp white sugar
- pepper, to taste
- ½ tsp vegetable stock powder (e.g. Vegeta)
- 1 tbsp fish sauce (substitute 2 tsp soy sauce for vegans)
- 200 gm tofu puff cubes, cut in half
- ½ onion, cut into wedges
- 2 spring onions, roughly chopped
- Prep all the ingredients.
- In a cold fry pan add the oil and the chopped garlic. Turn the heat to medium and allow the fry pan to slowly heat up. Let the garlic infuse in the oil for a few minutes but do not allow it to colour.
- Add the chopped tomatoes and break them up using a wooden spoon. Cook for one minute.
- Add the canned tomatoes, water, salt, sugar, pepper, vegetable stock and fish sauce. Stir until combined.
- Add the fried tofu puffs and mix in well. Turn the heat down to medium-low and cook for 6 minutes.
- After 6 minutes add the onion wedges and and cook for a further 2 minutes.
- Check the seasoning of the sauce. Add more fish sauce/soy sauce for extra salt and flavour, or sugar to counter the tang of the tomatoes.
- Garnish with chopped spring onions.