VEGETARIAN DOESN’T MEAN SIMPLE FLAVORS. That’s one thing I’ve learned from the Middle Eastern culinary geniuses at Ottolenghi. This is no exception. Tofu is a blank canvas. You can paint it anyway you want. And this recipe creates a symphony of complex colors and flavors!
This is an Ottolenghi vegetarian classic and undeniably DELICIOUS. Here’s their recipe.
HERE’S MY TAKE:
- 1 3/4 pounds firm tofu, cut into large (1-inch square) cubes and dry with paper towels
- cornstarch or flour to dust the tofu
- 5 tbsp butter
- 4 shallots, thinly sliced
- 4 fresh red chiles, thinly sliced (less or more to taste)
- 8 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
- 2 tbsp chopped or minced ginger
- 3 tablespoons light soy sauce (low sodium if available, otherwise you may need to add more sugar)
- 4 tablespoons dark soy sauce (low sodium if available, otherwise you may need to add more sugar)
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 2 tablespoons coarse black pepper
- 8-10 spring onions, sliced
**Don’t worry about all the different types of soy sauce. Ottolenghi uses many types. If you can’t get ahold of them, the bog-standard one will work. Just replace all the soy sauce in the recipe with whatever you have. That’s what I normally do, and the final product is still super!
*Don’t forget to scroll down for your Savory Sounds cooking soundtrack.
- In a large bowl, spinkle the tofu with the cornstarch/flour and toss lightly coat.
- Heat the oil in a large pan (I use a wok for this) over high heat until almost smoking. Add the cubes of tofu in batches (you won’t be able to fit all of them together). Stir-fry until golden and crispy all over. You may need to add more oil to the pan, depending on how many tofu cubes you need to fry.
- Transfer tofu out of the pan. Lay on paper towels and set aside.
- Wipe out the pan with a paper towel and add 3 tbsp butter. Heat the pan until the foam subsides, then add the shallots, chillis, and ginger. Then add the garlic (be careful not to burn). Cook, stirring often, until completely soft.
- Add the soy sauces, along with the sugar and pepper. Stir until the sugar is dissolved, then add the tofu back to the skillet and stir to coat it well.
- Adjust sweet and spicy flavors to taste, adding sugar or more pepper as desired.
- Add the remaining butter and turn off the heat. Stir well until the butter is just melted into the sauce (it should make it somewhat shiny). Add the spring onions and stir.
Make this as spicy as you can bear. That’s the point of the dish. I like my food spicy, so I add lots of extra pepper and chilli. With rice or noodles, this is a full meal! PS. This is SO YUMMY that even all you carnivores (like me) will want to make this dish a couple of times a month (at least)!
I HAPPENED TO BE BOPPING AROUND TO THESE TUNES when I made this dish. So I’m going to share them with you.
First up, Got It Bad. It has a smooth, steady — and very cool vibe (in my opinion):
And this one is just lovely: