Recipe: Hot, Sweet & Sour Tofu

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, it’s also open to adaptation. You can calibrate it with as much heat (or sweetness) as you’d like!


Ingredients:

For the sauce

  • 1/3 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 (red/ yellow/ green peppers, cut into cubes; diced carrots; green beans, trimmed and halved)
  • Toasted peanuts or cashews for garnishing

Method

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.

We’d love to hear from you! Do let us know if you try this recipe – leave a comment below; and tag us in your delicious creations on Instagram @the_foodiediaries.

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