If you love a good old fashioned cross-cultural twist to Asian cuisine, you’ll love this Hot, Sweet and Sour Tofu.
As its name suggests, my recipe is somewhat of a cross between the flavours you’d look for in an Indo-Chinese hot-and-sour soup and an American-Chinese sweet-and-sour tofu. Shades of heat are offset by a kick of sourness and the subtlest layers of sweetness (courtesy my star ingredient: mirin). Set against creamy tofu and the gentle-crunch of stir-fried veggies, it all culminates in a dish which is quite literally an explosion of complex flavours and nuanced textures.
The best part? Not only is it a fairly straightforward, easy recipe, this Hot, Sweet & Sour Tofu is also open to adaptation. You can calibrate it with as much heat (or sweetness) as you’d like!
Hot, Sweet & Sour Tofu
For the Sauce
- ⅓ cup rice vinegar
- 1½ tbsp mirin
- 4 tbsp light soy sauce
- 1½ tbsp cornstarch
- 2 tbsp water
- 2 tbsp Sriracha or sambal oelek (adjust according to taste)
- 1½ tsp brown sugar (adjust according to taste)
- 1½ tbsp finely chopped ginger
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 1½ tbsp finely chopped green onions (white part only ; you can use the chopped green stalk to garnish the final dish or add it to your fried rice)
- 2 tsp chopped Kashmiri chilli flakes (boiled first and then chopped)
- A pinch of Sichuan peppercorns
For the tofu & stir fry
- A packet of silken-firm (or extra firm) tofu, drained
- Corn flour for coating
- 1 – 2 tbsp peanut or sesame oil
- 2 cups chopped veggies of choice (red/ yellow/ green peppers, cut into cubes; diced carrots; green beans, trimmed and halved)
- Toasted peanuts or cashews for garnishing
To prepare the sauce:
- Whisk together the rice vinegar, soy sauce, mirin and Sriracha (or sambal oelek). Add cornflour, water and sugar and whisk vigorously until it has completely dissolved.
- Heat a tbsp of oil in a large skillet. Sauté the chopped onions until they turn translucent. Add the garlic, ginger, peppercorns and chopped chillies and sauté until fragrant.
- Add the vinegar-based mixture and stir, cooking until the sauce slightly thickens. Taste and adjust depending on preference (you can add more sugar if you’d like it sweeter; a dash more Sriracha/ sambal oelek if you’d prefer it with spicier. Remove from heat.
To prepare the tofu:
- Drain the excess water out of the tofu by wrapping the block between paper towels and then gently pressing down to release the water using a steel plate or even a wooden chopping board. Let the tofu sit for at least half an hour (ideally an hour) until it is fully drained and firm enough,
- Then, cut it into cubes or long rectangular strips and coat it with cornflour.
- Head a tbsp of oil in a skillet and pan-fry the tofu for 7 – 10 minutes , flipping the pieces over until they’re golden brown and crisp on both sides. Remove from heat and set aside.
For the stir-fry:
- If required, add a bit more oil to the same skillet. Add the chopped veggies and sauté until they have softened.
- Then slowly add the sauce and the tofu, stirring gently so that the tofu and chopped veggies are evenly coated. Cook for no longer than a couple of minutes, before removing from heat.
- Garnish with chopped cashews/ peanuts and the chopped green ends of the spring onion. Serve hot on a bed of (fried) rice.
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