How to cook: Crisp tofu in tomato chili sauce How to cook: Crisp tofu in tomato chili sauce

When Speedy tried to cook a Luke Nguyen tofu dish several weeks ago, he tried to fry silken tofu since that was what the recipe called for. But he got the same result that I did every time I tried to fry silken tofu — a terrible mess. So, he substituted firm tofu and came up with a delicious meatless dish. Salty, sweet and spicy. The colors are like a garden in bloom. I’m a serious cilantro lover but if you’re not a fan, you can just substitute onion leaves.

Adapted from Luke Nguyen’s Crisp Tofu Cooked In Tomato Pepper Sauce: Dau Hu Sot Ca

Recipe: Crisp tofu in tomato chili sauce


  • a 300-gram firm tofu cake
  • about 2 c. of cooking oil for deep frying
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 onion or 2 shallots, chopped
  • 1 bird’s eye chili, finely sliced
  • 2 to 3 tomatoes, diced
  • 1 and 1/2 tbsps. of patis (fish sauce)
  • 2 to 2 and 1/2 tbsps. of sugar
  • about 1/2 tsp. of freshly cracked black pepper
  • roughly chopped cilantro, to serve


  1. Heat the cooking oil in a wok or frying pan until fine wisps of smoke start to appear.
  2. Cut the tofu into cubes. How large or how small is entirely up to you. Fry in hot oil until golden brown.
  3. Pour off the oil except for a tablespoonful or so.
  4. Heat the tablespoonful or so of oil again. Saute the garlic, chili and onion or shallots until fragrant, about a minute.
  5. Add the tomatoes, fish sauce, sugar and black pepper. Cook over high heat, stirring, until the tomatoes start to soften.
  6. Pour in about a third of a cup of water. Once the liquid boils, reduce the heat to medium-low and cook, uncovered for about seven minutes or until the liquid is reduced. This step will allow the flavors to develop and, at the same time, concentrate the flavors.
  7. Turn up the heat. Add the tofu cubes. Toss. Cook for 30 seconds to reheat the tofu.
  8. Turn off the heat. Taste the sauce and add more fish sauce, sugar or pepper, as needed.
  9. Tip the tofu, vegetables and cooking liquid into a shallow bowl. Garnish with the cilantro. Serve hot. Crisp tofu in tomato chili sauce

Quick notes

If your wok or frying pan is rather small, fry the tofu cubes in batches to avoid overcrowding.

Preparation time: 5 minute(s)

Cooking time: 10 minute(s)

Number of servings (yield): 2

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  1. says

    I’ll definitely have to try the firm tofu. I tried to fry the silken tofu once, and that didn’t turn out well. :) This dish is so colorful, and I bet it was delicious too.

    Thanks for sharing the picture and recipe.

  2. A says

    If you don’t mind, I’d like to share some tips on how to fry silken tofu. It

    To fry silken tofu, it would be best to air dry it in the fridge for overnight; the exteriors will be stilll softer than firm tofu, though making it easier to cut, but still silky on the inside.

    Second, fry it with batter; use a flat spatula to lower the cubes of silky tofu into a thick batter, and sprinkle–not roll–the cubes with breadcrumbs. For Chinese-style fried silken tofu, cut it into big chunks; a block of tofu could be cut into 4-6 pieces.

    Third, the oil. Shallow or pan-frying CANNOT work with this. Oil should be 1 inch deeper than the total height of each tofu block; that way you minimize stirring and preserve the shape.

    I hope this helps :p

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