It’s a pretty simple dish. The only cooking involved is frying the tofu until a crust forms on the surface. IF you already have your sweet chili sauce.
What sweet chili sauce is good for this recipe? There’s store-bought and there’s homemade. You’ll find bottles and bottles of sweet chili sauce in the grocery and they come in so many brands. And it’s okay to use whichever you pick among them. But.
If you want complete control over the flavor balance and the texture of the sauce, you can always make your own.
Is it worth the trouble? Store-bought sweet chili sauce is thickened with starch. And that starch makes the sauce lumpy as it cools.
I don’t add starch to my homemade sweet chili sauce. I just boil bird’s eye chilies, garlic, ginger, white sugar, salt, rice vinegar or lemon juice and lemon zest with water until reduced to a syrupy consistency. It never gets lumpy.
I already mentioned that if you already have your sweet chili sauce, then, the only cooking you need to do is to fry the tofu. But, before that, to make sure that the tofu forms a good crust during frying, you’ll want to remove excess water. Just press the tofu between sheets of paper towel to remove as much water as you can.
As for the actual frying, make sure you have plenty of oil to that the tofu is completely covered. If you’re frying a lot of tofu, fry them in batches so that the temperature of the oil does not drop drastically at any point.
Fried tofu with sweet chili sauce
- 4 cloves garlic
- 1 one-inch knob ginger
- 1 to 2 bird’s eye chilies
- 2 shallots
- 1 small bell pepper any color
- 1 300-gram cake firm tofu
- cooking oil for deep frying
- ½ cup sweet chili sauce I used homemade
- 1 teaspoon chili garlic sauce I used Lee Kum Kee
- salt to taste
- ground black pepper to taste
- 1 small drizzle sesame seed oil
- ½ teaspoon toasted sesame seeds
- 1 teaspoon finely sliced scallions
- Smash the garlic cloves; shake off and discard the skins. Mince the garlic.
- Peel the ginger and finely chop.
- Thinly slice the bird’s eye chilies.
- Peel the shallots and thinly slice.
- Peel and finely slice the shallots.
- Deseed the bell pepper. Finely chop.
- Press the tofu between stacks of paper towels to remove as much water as you can, then cut into bite-size pieces.
- Heat the oil in a wok or frying pan. When fine smoke floats on the surface, slide in the tofu pieces one by one. Cook over high heat until the surface is browned and crisp. Scoop out and drain on a stack of paper towels.
- Pour off the oil leaving only about a tablespoonful.
- Reheat the oil. Saute the shallots, garlic, ginger, chilies and bell pepper with a bit of salt and pepper.
- Pour in the sweet chili sauce and chili garlic sauce. Stir. Taste. Adjust the amount of salt and pepper, if needed.
- Add the fried tofu to the sauce. Stir to coat each piece well. Simmer the tofu in the sauce for a minute.
- Off the heat, drizzle in the sesame seed oil and toss.
- Sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds and finely sliced scallions before serving.