The first time I tried tofu, it was when I was a kid and it was straight out of the package (mom wasn't looking and I snuck a taste). I didn't touch this abomination of food again until much, much later in life when I finally figured out cooking. I was completely taken aback when I added tofu in my kids' dinner the other night. I expected the same reaction but it turned out, they actually liked it! In fact, they exclaimed, "This is the best food ever!" Score for mom!
Tofu is great to have on hand when you need protein in a pinch. Honestly, I looked to tofu in early adulthood because I was lazy to prep meat. So for once, laziness paid off towards eating healthy. Tofu is a blank canvas so eating it plain is never recommended. It is best fried and paired with a bold sauce, such as spicy tomato or teriyaki.
Tofu comes in a variety of firmness. I like to use silken tofu in soups. My favorite is spicy kimchi soup with silken tofu. It is loaded with flavors. I use medium firm tofu in mild soups as Vietnamese Tofu and Garlic Chive Soup (Canh Dau Hu He). And I like to fry up firm tofu and pair it with tomato sauce (Dau Hu Sot Ca Chua), a very common Vietnamese side dish that goes great with steamed rice. The latter was what we had for dinner the other night that the kids loved. To further win them over, I added ground pork. Mission accomplished.
Vietnamese Fried Tofu and Pork in Tomato Sauce Recipe (Dau Hu Thit Sot Ca Chua)
1 package firm tofu (12-14 oz)
1/4 lb ground pork
1 tablespoon oyster sauce
3 tablespoons vegetable oil for frying
1 tablespoon minced garlic
3 ripe tomatoes (3/4 lb)
1/4 cup water or chicken broth
1 tablespoon granulated white sugar
2 tablespoons fish sauce
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 green onion (slice thinly)
Remove tofu from package. Rinse, drain, and pat dry with paper towels. Wrap the dried tofu in paper towels and allow it to sit for at least 30 minutes. The paper towels will continue to absorb excess moisture. It's also helpful to place something on top of the paper-towel-wrapped tofu to expedite the process. Cut the tofu into 1-inch cubes and set aside.
Season the ground pork with oyster sauce and the whites of the green onion.
In a medium-sized pan, heat vegetable oil on medium high. Fry the tofu until golden brown on all sides. Transfer tofu to a paper-towel-lined plate to absorb excess oil.
Remove excess oil from the pan, leaving about 1 tablespoon. Heat the oil on medium high.Add garlic and saute until fragrant (a few seconds).
Add the marinated ground pork and stir until the pork is evenly cooked.
Add tomatoes and water/chicken stock. Let the tomatoes simmer on low for about 5 minutes. Season with sugar, fish sauce and pepper.
Return fried tofu back to the pan. Give it a quick stir and garnish with green onions.