Some of my mates think that Steph and I must have the most exciting dishes for dinner. They picture us laughing and smiling at the dinner table with our piping hot bowls of noodle soup 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 mix! 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.
Today this post is about one of my favourite ways to dress up tofu. In my household we usually have tofu one of two ways. The first way is basically prison food. I simply pan-fry the tofu and serve it with shrimp paste. I have been told by many people that it is an acquired taste but I promise you it’s popular among the Vietnamese and prisoners!
The second and probably by far the most popular way is this tofu in tomato sauce dish. Traditionally this dish is made with fresh tofu and tomatoes. Normally I try to make everything from scratch, but I use the cheat method by using store-bought fried tofu and canned tomatoes. This cuts the cooking time by half and removes all the complexity from the recipe. For me, that sounds a lot like winning.
Over the years, I have learnt a few things to improve this simple recipe from my mum and through my own experience. Here are a few pointers you may want to consider:
- Use canned cherry tomatoes. They pack a lot more flavour than the normal tomato varieties but are slightly more expensive.
- Add the onions towards the end so they still have crunch.
- Fry half the garlic at the start in oil then add the other half towards the end. My grandma did this to increase the garlicky flavour. If you prefer to have it mild then add all the garlic in at the beginning.
- Leftovers can be packed with rice for work or school lunches.
If you have made it this far then you are all set to make this cheap, easy and delicious recipe! I hope you enjoy it as much as my family has over the years.
Easy Vietnamese Fried Tofu in Tomato Sauce
A simple Vietnamese recipe that is perfect for mid-week dinners. Great to have the next day for work or school lunches.
- 1 tbsp canola oil (15 ml)
- 2 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 1 medium brown onion, cut into wedges
- 400 gm canned cherry tomatoes (or your choice of tomatoes)
- 1/2 cup water
- 1/2 tsp salt
- Freshly cracked pepper
- 1/2 tsp sugar
- 1 tbsp fish sauce (15 ml) (use soy sauce for vegan option)
- 150 gm medium-sized fried tofu cubes (available at Asian groceries)
- 2 spring onions, chopped
- 4 sprigs coriander (optional)
Prep all the ingredients.
In a fry pan on medium heat setting, add the oil and fry half of the garlic for 30 seconds (Note 1).
Add the canned tomatoes to the fry pan and use a wooden spoon to squash any whole tomatoes. To the empty can of tomatoes, add 1/4 cup of water, swirl and pour it into the fry pan.
Add the salt, sugar, pepper and fish sauce / soy sauce. Stir until thoroughly mixed.
Add the fried tofu and ensure that each one is covered in the sauce. Turn down the heat to low and allow to cook gently for 15 minutes.
After 15 minutes add the onion wedges and the remaining garlic. Stir through and allow to cook for a further 2 minutes.
Check the seasoning of the sauce. Add more fish sauce (soy sauce for vegans) for salt and flavour or sugar to control the tang of the tomatoes.
Garnish with spring onions / coriander.
- If you want a milder garlic flavour then add all the garlic add this step. Otherwise, per the recipe add the remaining garlic later for a stronger flavour.