You want to know what’s the most time consuming this in this tofu dish? It’s frying the tofu actually, so if you can buy already fried tofu cubes from your nearby grocery, or better yet, if you live in Indonesia, and your street food seller is selling fried tofu, go grab some to make this tofu in spicy soy bean sauce in under 15 minutes!
If, like me, you prefer to prepare your own fried tofu cubes, you can still go about it the easy way by making a big batch of “fried” tofu with your oven. Alternatively, the old fashion way of deep frying tofu cubes will always work, though a bit much of work in my opinion. Or, if oven is out of the question, and you are not up to deep frying, you can always pan fry your tofu. In this recipe, I am going to show you how to pan fry your tofu cubes, but you can use whichever method you want, just make sure you have some fried tofu cubes to prepare this dish.
Two other key ingredients in this dish is tauco (salted soy bean) and kecap manis (Indonesian sweet soy sauce). Most Asian grocery should carry these items, but you can also buy them from Amazon, but be warned that the online price is almost always more expensive. For tauco, I like the one from Yeo’s, but you can use other brand too. For kecap manis, my favorite is the one from Bango, but the one from ABC is also pretty good. Once you have everything ready, let’s go to the recipe.
Our family is tofu lovers, so our tofu recipes have been growing nicely over the years. If you need a new tofu recipe, do give this tahu goreng sambal sereh – fried tofu with spicy lemongrass relish a try.
If you can buy freshly fried tofu cubes in side street or supermarket, the only thing you need to do is to prepare the spicy relish.
Fried Tofu Cubes
If you need to prepare fried tofu cubes on your own, the most important thing to remember is to properly drain as much liquid as possible from the tofu.
Since this is a super important step, you can even buy tofu presser to do this step for you.
But, I usually just wrap firm tofu with paper towel, sandwich between two plates and place my heavy cast iron skillet on top.
I recommend letting the tofu drain for at least 30 minutes, though I usually leave them for one hour.
Once it is drained, simply cut the tofu into cubes, sprinkle with salt and pepper, coat with flour, and pan fry until golden brown.
Spicy Lemongrass Relish
This spicy relish is simple to make as long as you have the ingredients. The spices include lemongrass, shallot, garlic, red Thai bird eye chilies, and for the seasoning, salt and pepper.
Heat oil in a frying pan and sauté thinly sliced lemongrass, shallot, chilies, and minced garlic.
Once it is fragrant, season with salt and pepper. Arrange fried tofu cubes in a plate and top with the spicy lemongrass relish.
Whenever I buy tofu, I love turning a couple of blocks at once into fried tofu cubes. They are so handy to quickly whip up a batch of satisfying meal, such as this tahu tumis kemangi – tofu & basil stir fry. I also like to add them to my salad 🙂
You can generally find Thai basil (Indonesian: daun kemangi) in most Asian groceries. You may think that Italian basil is a good substitute, but it actually is not. Asian dishes never use Italian basil. If you must substitute, it is preferable to use the same amount of cilantro. Yes, the dish will taste different, but I think cilantro matches better with the rest of the ingredients compared to Italian basil.
Mun tahu is a classic Chinese Indonesian braised silken tofu dish, with ground chicken/pork/beef (or roughly chopped shrimp), drenched in thick savory garlic ginger sauce. This dish is what I make when I need to prepare something quick and I don’t want a lot of fuss, because I can be very happy with a bowl of rice and mun tahu. If you love tofu, you are going to love this dish. Or if you don’t love tofu, maybe this can be the dish to convince you otherwise.
A Chinese Indonesian Tofu Dish
Mun tahu literally means braised tofu, originally a Hakka Chinese dish, but is now widely enjoyed by many Indonesian. You can still order mun tahu from many old established Chinese restaurants in Jakarta.
Ground chicken and chopped shrimps are probably the two most popular choice of meat to go with mun tahu, though you can also order them with ground pork or ground beef.
I think of mun tahu as the non spicy version of mapo tofu. In fact, I would argue most Indonesians are more familiar with mun tahu compared to mapo tofu.
A bowl of silky tofu goodness
The star of mun tahu is definitely the tofu. Try to stick to silken variety if you can. It is now very easy to find tofu in my neighborhood groceries, though the grocery nearest to my house for some reason only stock extra firm variety.
For silken tofu, I am still forced to make a special trip to Asian market. But I found out that Amazon now carries Mori-Nu tofu, and the silken tofu from Mori-Nu is a no brainer for this dish.
Not having to stash my tofu in refrigerator is such a revelation, since I am definitely that lady who fills her shopping cart with a dozen blocks of tofu in one trip, and later have to sacrifice half a shelf in the fridge just for tofu.
The next little secret to make a great mun tahu lies in the stock. It is true you can make an okay mun tahu with water, but if you use chicken stock, or even Japanese dashi stock if that’s what you have, you are going to have an amazing mun tahu.
I would say that even if all you have in your kitchen is some stock granules instead of the real deal, you should still go for it. Only in last resort should one prepare mun tahu with water.
Bumbu Bali is one of Indonesia’s deliciously spicy, sweet, and savory sauce, similar to Bumbu Balado. Despite its name, Bumbu Bali originates from East Java, and not from the island of Bali.
The most famous dish prepared with this sauce is Telur Bumbu Bali, which you can find in my blog. Today, I am sharing this recipe for Tahu Goreng Bumbu Bali, which is one of my most requested tofu dishes at home. 🙂
Ingredients for Balinese sauce fried tofu
1. Fried tofu
You can buy fried tofu cubes from any Asian grocery, or you can make them from scratch. If you choose the latter route, you will need a block of firm/extra firm tofu, salt, pepper, and all-purpose flour.
2. Spice paste
We will need shallots, garlic, red chilies, terasi/belacan/shrimp paste, ginger, galangal, and candlenuts for the spice paste.
I usually use cayenne chilies or softened dried red chilies for the red chilies, but you can use Fresno for a milder dish, or bird-eye chilies for a spicier dish.
3. Herbs and other seasonings
We will also need tamarind, lemongrass, daun salam (Indonesian bay leaves), kaffir lime leaves, salt, coconut palm sugar, and kecap manis (Indonesian sweet soy sauce).
How to pan-fry tofu
1. Drain tofu
Drain tofu, wrap it with paper kitchen towel, and sandwich between two plates. Place a heavy object on top of the plate, such as a cast-iron skillet, to press the tofu.
After 30 minutes, there should be noticeably plenty of liquid pool around the tofu. Drain the liquid, unwrap the tofu, and cut into 12 pieces.
2. Season and fry tofu
Heat a non-stick pan or a cast-iron skillet over medium heat. Add three tablespoons of oil and swirl to coat the pan/skillet.
Sprinkle tofu pieces with salt and pepper, coat with all-purpose flour, and fry in hot oil until golden brown.
Cooking Tahu Goreng Bumbu Bali
1. Prepare spice paste
Use a food processor or a spice attachment for a blender to puree shallots, garlic, red chilies, ginger, galangal, candlenuts, and toasted shrimp paste into a smooth spice paste.
2. Cook the tofu dish
Heat oil in a wok over medium-high heat and sauté spice paste until fragrant, about 4 minutes.
Add tamarind liquid, lemongrass, Indonesian bay leaves, kaffir lime leaves, salt, and coconut palm sugar. Mix well.
Add fried tofu pieces. Stir and continue cooking until the sauce is thick. Stir in sweet soy sauce and cook for another minute.
Turn off the heat, discard lemongrass, daun salam, and kaffir lime leaves. Transfer to a serving plate and serve with steamed white rice.
Tofu in black pepper sauce is one of my family’s favorite Chinese restaurant dishes. We used to order a black pepper sauce dish all the time, but now I can prepare this myself with this recipe.
Since my family loves this dish, I make it pretty often. I usually have most of the sauces and seasonings for this dish in my pantry, so I can quickly prepare this dish even with a limited amount of fresh ingredients at home.
Like most dishes in a Chinese restaurant, you can always modify this recipe to work with meat or seafood. Beef in black pepper sauce is another favorite, and you can also try it with chicken, pork, or fish.
Ingredients for tofu in black pepper sauce
1. Pan-fried tofu
If you can find fried tofu cubes in your grocery store, feel free to use that and skip making pan-fried tofu from scratch. Please dowse store-bought fried tofu cubes in plenty of hot water to remove excess oil before using.
To make pan-fried tofu cubes from scratch, we will need firm/extra-firm tofu, water, garlic, and salt.
2. Black pepper sauce
To prepare the black pepper sauce, we will need garlic, onion, red chilies, oyster sauce, kecap manis (Indonesian sweet soy sauce), chicken stock/water, coconut palm sugar, salt, and cornstarch.
Step-by-step to cook tofu in black pepper sauce
1. Marinate tofu
Mix water, garlic, and salt in a mixing bowl. Marinate tofu cubes in this solution for 20 minutes.
2. Fry tofu
Heat 3 tablespoon oil in a non-stick frying pan on medium heat, fry tofu cubes until all sides are golden brown. If you prefer to deep fry the tofu, you can do so as well. Set aside.
3. Prepare black pepper sauce
Heat 2 tablespoon oil in a wok over medium-high high. Sauté garlic, onion, and red chilies until fragrant, about 1 minute.
Season with oyster sauce, sweet soy sauce, sugar, black pepper, and salt. Mix well.
Pour chicken stock and cook until boiling, then add the cornstarch slurry and cook for 1 minute, or until the sauce is thick.
Add fried tofu cubes and toss gently to coat. Turn off the heat, garnish with scallions, and serve immediately with steamed white rice.
Every Chinese Indonesian is familiar with Babi Kecap, or pork in soy sauce. My family version has fried tofu and hard-boiled eggs, and my brothers and I all grow up eating plenty of this dish. Please share with me if your family has a different version.
I believe this dish is known as Tau Yew Bak in Malaysia and Singapore, but we have always just called this dish Babi Kecap in Indonesia. We use three kinds of soy sauce (light soy sauce, dark soy sauce, and sweet soy sauce), a bulb of garlic, and a tablespoon of white peppercorns. Again, if you have a different version, I would love to learn and give your version a try.😊
Ingredients for babi dan tahu kecap
The main ingredients for this dish are pork, fried tofu cubes, and hard-boiled eggs.
You can omit the eggs if you wish, but I highly suggest either use double the amount of pork, double the amount of tofu, or increase both the pork and fried tofu cubes by 50%.
Pork belly is the most common cut for this dish, but you can also use pork shoulder or pork loin portion that is closest to the shoulder.
For the sauce, we will need garlic, white peppercorns, light soy sauce, dark soy sauce, sweet soy sauce (Indonesian: kecap manis), and sugar.
Prepping the main ingredients
If you start with a block of firm/extra-firm tofu, drain the tofu and cut it into 8 pieces. Heat a little oil in a non-stick frying pan, or a well-seasoned cast-iron pan, fry the tofu until golden brown and set aside.
If you start with a packet of fried tofu cubes, heat a pot of water and blanch them to remove excess oil. This extra step ensures our final dish will not be oily.
Place eggs and cold water in a pot. Turn on the heat and bring the pot to a rapid boil. Turn off the heat, cover the pot, and wait for 12 minutes. Drain the eggs and place them in a pot of cold water. Peel the eggs once they are cool enough to handle.
Cut the pork into bite-size pieces. Boil a pot of water and blanch the pork for 3 minutes, drain and set aside. This step reduces the strong porky aroma, and our dish will have a clear broth.
Cooking the dish
Once we finish with the prep works, we are finally ready to cook the dish.
Start with boiling 4 cups of water, pork, garlic, and white peppercorns. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook for 30 minutes.
Add tofu, light/regular soy sauce, sweet soy sauce, dark soy sauce, and sugar. Cover the pot, reduce the heat, and simmer for 30 minutes or until the pork is tender.
Add hard-boiled eggs and simmer for another 15 minutes. Adjust the seasoning (salt and sugar) as needed.
Turn off heat, served immediately with steamed white rice.
Orak arik is a simple everyday dish consists mainly of scrambled eggs with vegetables, tofu, mushroom, and even meat if you so wish, though the most common ones are usually just vegetables.
Today I am sharing a recipe for orak arik tahu jamur, which is a version of this popular Indonesian household dish with mushrooms and fried tofu cubes.
If you want a quick dish to finish your carrot or odd stalk of celery, this is going to be the perfect dish to make as long as you have some eggs and vegetables to go along with it.
I also have another orak arik recipe using just eggs and vegetables for when you are running out of tofu and/or mushrooms. 🙂
Ingredients for orak arik tahu jamur
For the egg scramble portion, we will need eggs, salt, and ground white pepper.
For the fried tofu cubes, we will need firm/extra-firm tofu, garlic, salt, and water.
TIPS: You can buy fried tofu cubes from Asian grocery so you can skip frying the tofu portion and finish preparing this dish even faster.
The remaining ingredients include shallot, onion, garlic, scallions, red chilies/red bell pepper, fresh mushroom, oyster sauce, kecap manis (Indonesian sweet soy sauce), fish sauce, and ground white pepper.
Fried tofu cubes
If you decide to fry your own tofu, start by cutting a block of firm/extra-firm tofu into 16 pieces.
Marinate tofu cubes with minced garlic, salt, and water for about 15 minutes.
Heat about two tablespoons of oil in a non-stick frying pan or a well-seasoned cast-iron skillet over medium heat.
Pat dry tofu cubes, then fry until all the tofu cubes are golden brown. Set aside.
Cooking orak arik tahu jamur
1. Beat eggs
In a mixing bowl, lightly beat together eggs with salt and ground white pepper. Set aside.
2. Fry aromatics
Add 2 tablespoon oil to the frying pan. Stir fry shallot, onion, garlic, the white part of scallions, and Fresno chilies/bell pepper until fragrant, about 2 minutes.
3. Fry mushroom
Add mushroom, stir to mix, and cook until the mushroom wilt.
4. Make egg scramble
Push everything to one side of the pan. Pour beaten eggs to the clean side of the pan. When the eggs start to set, stir with a spatula to make scrambled eggs.
5. Add tofu and seasoning
Return fried tofu cubes to the pan. Season with oyster sauce, sweet soy sauce, fish sauce, and ground white pepper. Mix well. Adjust seasoning as needed.
Turn off heat. Transfer to a serving plate, and garnish with the green part of scallions.
Kecap manis (sweet soy sauce) is an indispensable soy sauce in Indonesian cuisine. We use in many of our recipes, such as semur ayam, tempeh kecap, ayam kecap, lapis daging, and sambal tomat kecap.
Today I am going to share a recipe for tahu kecap Kudus (fried tofu in sweet soy sauce). We will need kecap manis as one of the main ingredients to prepare its sauce.
Ingredients for tahu kecap kudus
1. Firm/extra-firm tofu
First, you will need two blocks of firm/extra-firm tofu, each weighing 450 grams (1 lb). Alternatively, you can also use fried tofu cubes if your supermarket sells them.
2. Kecap manis
Kecap manis is an Indonesian sweet soy sauce. The color is that of soy sauce, but the consistency is much thicker and almost honey-like in viscosity.
Many Indonesian recipes rely on kecap manis. If you love cooking Indonesian recipes at home, I highly recommend stocking your pantry with a bottle or two of kecap manis.
If you need a substitute, you can try mixing 50% soy sauce with 50% coconut palm sugar. For example, replace a tablespoon of kecap manis with 1⁄2 tablespoon soy sauce and 1⁄2 tablespoon coconut palm sugar.
3. Water/chicken stock
If you love a richer and more savory dish, I highly recommend using chicken stock or vegetable stock.
If this is your first time working with terasi/shrimp paste, you can read more about it from my post on kangkung tumis terasi and sambal terasi.
How to cook the tofu dish
1. Fry tofu
Drain the tofu blocks well, then cut each block into eight pieces and pan-fry over medium heat with a little bit of oil in a non-stick frying pan or a well-seasoned cast-iron skillet until golden brown.
Set aside to cool, then cut each fried tofu cube into two pieces. You will get a total of thirty-two pieces of fried tofu cubes.
2. Grind spice paste
Use a food processor or a mortar and pestle to grind garlic, shallot, red chilies, ginger, galangal, and toasted shrimp paste into a smooth paste.
3. Cook the sauce
Heat two tablespoons of oil in a wok over medium heat. Sauté spice paste and Indonesian for 3-5 minutes, or until fragrant. Add sweet soy sauce and chicken stock/water, mix well and cook until boiling.
4. Add tofu
Add fried tofu cubes into the wok, then reduce the heat to a simmer. Cook without a lid until the sauce is reduced and thick. Stir frequently towards the end until the sauce glazes the tofu.
Transfer the dish to a serving plate and serve immediately with steamed white rice.
Other Indonesian tofu dishes to try
There are so many Indonesian tofu dishes to choose from, and we are truly spoiled for choice when it comes to tofu.
Aside from tahu kecap kudus, you can try cooking some of our tofu dishes such as:
Street food is a common sight in Indonesian life, and though it may sound unusual to non-Indonesians, we have quite a variety of tofu-based street food snacks or light meals.
One of our popular tofu street food is tahu gejrot Cirebon, fried tofu cut into small cubes and doused with a spicy chili soy sauce. Cirebon is a port city on the northern coast of West Java bordering the province of Central Java. Other famous dishes from this city that includes empal gentong, mi koclok, nasi lengko, tahu petis, and docang.
With my recipe, you can now replicate this dish in your home even when you are not living in Indonesia. This dish also happens to be gluten-free and vegan-friendly, so I love serving it to my non-Indonesian friends.
Ingredients for tahu gejrot
1. Fried tofu
In Indonesia, fried tofu is just as commonly sold as raw tofu. We have several common varieties of fried tofu that are suitable for tahu gejrot, such as tahu pong, tahu Sumedang, or even the most generic fried tofu.
In the United States, you may find fried tofu cubes in your Asian market. You can also use Japanese tofu pouch (abura age) if you can find them. You may want to rinse store-bought fried tofu with boiling water to remove excess oil before using it.
For most people, getting a block of firm or extra-firm tofu and frying the tofu at home would be the most approachable method.
2. Chili soy sauce
We will need shallot, garlic, green chilies, kecap manis (Indonesian sweet soy sauce), coconut palm sugar, salt, cane sugar vinegar, and water.
You can use as many chilies as you like, and you can use any variety of chili. Most Indonesians will stick to bird-eye chilies, or perhaps a combination of bird-eye chilies and cayenne chilies. You can also use serranos, jalapenos or Fresno for a milder sauce.
Prepare fried tofu cubes
1. From a block of firm/extra-firm tofu
Drain tofu and pat dry with a kitchen towel/paper towel. Cut into eight pieces and fry with a little oil in a non-stick frying pan or a well-seasoned cast-iron pan until golden brown.
2. From store-bought fried tofu
Store-bought tofu can be very oily, so I always place the tofu in a large mixing bowl and cover with boiling water. Drain the tofu after 5 minutes.
Prepare chili sauce
In a small saucepan, bring water, sweet soy sauce, coconut palm sugar, salt, vinegar, chilies, shallot, and garlic to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes.
Serving tahu gejrot
Cut each piece of tofu into 4 pieces so you get a total of 32 small fried tofu cubes. Divide the tofu cubes into 4 serving bowls. Pour the sauce on top of the tofu and serve immediately.