Tomato Fried Tofu (a Vietnamese-inspired recipe)

On the scale of one to ten, I miss home-cooking at a rating over 9000.

Okay, in all seriousness, I miss home-cooking at a rating over 10,000.

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To be fair, the food I make still tastes delicious, and they’re probably a lot cleaner given that I only use cooking spray instead of oil and coconut aminos and Sriracha rather than anything saltier. However, there is something I adore about home-cooked food that you can actually eat on the same day as it’s been prepared. I feel more relaxed and more present with my meals. Not that I hate meal prep, but it is way too oriented towards future-thinking.

If you saw my YouTube videos and recaps of my trip to Vietnam in July, you know that my number one favorite healthy(ish) meal that my relatives prepared for me was tomato fried tofu with heaps of green onions and pepper. Oh goodness gracious it was divine! Tofu cooked to the crisp, aromatic onions and garlic assimilated in the freshly sauteed tomatoes, and of course, some butter lettuce to pair with–I mean, we’re trying to be healthy here–could not have been a better combination. With that being said, the tofu was deep-fried after all, and on top of that, there was probably a week’s worth of salt in that single recipe. Don’t worry, guys. You won’t die from sodium overload if you have this in reasonable amounts.

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With that being said, my family and I tried to replicate this recipe as best as we possibly could, but reduced the oil by a small fraction, skipped the deep-frying process, and used just a pinch (okay fine, two pinches) of salt to finish. On top of that, we doubled the amount of tomatoes and onions, plus added in some cilantro and garlic. Admit it. Everything tastes better with those foods. Except with fruit and ice cream. Don’t eat cilantro and garlic with fruit nor ice cream.

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My favorite ways to serve this dish is as a soup (if you add more vegetable broth into the recipe) or with brown rice, a side salad, or with edamame spaghetti!

The latter may sound weird, but don’t knock it ’till you try it!

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RECIPE (serves 6-8)

  • 2 blocks of organic extra firm tofu
  • 1 pound and four ounces of organic tomatoes
  • 1 bunch of cilantro
  • 3 green onion stalks
  • 1 large red onion
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 2 TBSP soy sauce
  • 2 TBSP olive oil or sesame oil; can be substituted with vegetable broth for an oil-free recipe
  • Salt and pepper to taste

PROCEDURE

  1. Drain liquid from the blocks of tofu from their containers, and pat the tofu dry by covering them in paper towels and placing the tofu under a paperweight. Let the tofu sit and dry.
  2. Meanwhile, prepare the produce as necessary. Chop the tomatoes, slice the green onions, peel and chop the red onion, mince the garlic, and remove the cilantro stems. Set everything except the tomatoes aside.
  3. Blend the chopped tomatoes in a food processor until the consistency reaches a slightly liquidy consistency with chunkiness. Set aside.
  4. When the tofu is almost completely dry, remove the paper towels and weight, and cube the blocks of tofu.
  5. Heat a large wok pan or pot on medium heat over a stove-top. Add in the oil or vegetable broth before the pot becomes too warm.
  6. Once the pot is hot enough, add the garlic and onions, sauteing until fragrant.
  7. Stir in the tomatoes thoroughly for three to five minutes.
  8. Carefully incorporate the tofu, making sure none of the cubes break.
  9. Mix in salt and pepper to taste.
  10. Cover the pot and bring the mixture to a simmer.
  11. Transfer the tomato tofu to a serving bowl and garnish with cilantro and more black pepper.
  12. Serve warm with brown rice and spinach.

Do you meal prep? What is your favorite ethnic dish that can be made at home?

 


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