June 27, 2012

tofu in spicy tomato sauce

As soon as I saw the ingredients for the fresh tomato sauce for this tofu dish, I was reminded of a Filipino version of it called sarciado. It's almost exactly the same except for the addition of the sliced red chilis. The Filipino sarciado is most often poured over crispy fried fish. The chunky tomato sauce coated each and every piece of the tofu well and made this dish ideal as a flavorful appetizer or a comforting meal by itself.

I was happy to discover Luke's Vietnam on the Cooking Channel where I learned about this dish. The show is hosted by Luke Nguyen, a Vietnamese-Australian chef who travels in his home country where he cooks at every location he visits and at the same time discovers the authentic cuisine of every region. I'm now a fan of the exotic locations, food presentation and amazing photography.

For the recipe...
TOFU SARCIADO (Crispy Tofu in Spicy Tomato Sauce adapted from Luke's Vietnam)

1 block tofu (I used firm tofu), cubed
3 cloves garlic, finely minced
1/4 cup onions, finely chopped
1 cup or more chopped fresh tomatoes
2 pieces red chilis, thinly sliced
1 stalk green onions, thinly sliced
basil leaves, thinly sliced (optional)

1 tablespoon fish sauce (substitute salt to make it vegan)
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon sugar 

 Place the tofu cubes in a colander to get rid of excess water then gently press with a papertowel before cooking. Fry the tofu cubes in canola oil until lightly browned. Drain excess oil from the tofu pieces by transferring them to a plate lined with papertowels. Pour out oil except for about 2 tablespoons and cook garlic and onions for a few minutes. Add the chopped tomatoes and simmer. Season with fish sauce or salt and ground pepper. Continue to simmer adding more water as needed to make a saucy tomato base. Add half of the green onions and chilis. Return the tofu cubes to the skillet and toss gently with the sauce. Top with more sliced green onions, chilis and basil leaves. Enjoy as an appetizer or side dish.

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