Saturday, December 12, 2009

Fried Tofu Simmered with Scallion--Dau Hu Chien Tam Hanh La

It has been cold in Northern California, record breaking cold.  Good weather for stews and casseroles.  Or hearty pasta dishes.  But tofu?  Yes, indeed.  This dish is as satisfying as any beef daube or bourguignon you might find in France.  And as simple as sin.

There's nothing to it, really.  Just tofu, water, fish sauce, a little sugar and green onions.  That's it.  But the taste is rich and soulful.  It's a dish I could eat every night for a year and not tire of.  The key is to use fresh cakes of tofu and to fry the tofu up yourself before you add it to the simmering water mixture.  If you wanted to avoid the fish sauce, I suppose you could substitute Maggi seasoning or soy sauce for a slightly different taste.  If you think you don't like fish sauce or tofu, try this dish first. 

This recipe is adapted from Andrea Nguyen's Into the Vietnamese Kitchen.  She doesn't add sugar, but I find I like a little sugar to balance the fish sauce.  Maybe it's a result of spending too many years in Central Java, where they like their food sweet.  Anyway, give this a try.

Dau Hu Chien Tam Hanh La

1 1/2 pounds tofu, preferably the fresh blocks available in Asian markets, or direct from the makers
neutral vegetable oil for deep-frying the tofu

1/2 cup water
2 to 3 TBS fish sauce
1 to 2 tsp sugar
3 scallions, green part only, chopped

Cut the tofu into cubes, approximately one inch. Deep fry until crisp.

In a saucepan or claypot combine water, fish sauce and sugar. Heat until simmering. Add the fried tofu, stirring to expose all sides to the liquid, cover and cook for about 3 minutes. Uncover, stir in the scallions, and serve.

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  1. yum! ths was a common dish we ate at home, but always put in tomates which braises with the tofu and releases a great sauce.

  2. Yes! I also like it with tomatoes, sometimes adding fresh pork belly diced and fried.

  3. This tofu sounds divine. I love the sweet savory thing.....and I use fish sauce all the time. Thanks for the inspiration.

  4. is part of the recipe missing on purpose? i'd love to have the rest...

  5. I wouldn't mind it either... but I think the original recipe can be seen on google books. Just search for the name of the recipe.

  6. yum! my husband makes this type of dish very frequent even in the middle of 100F AZ heat! i love it regardless of the weather... it is so good, especially adding some five spice

  7. MrsD,

    Sorry about that. It was simply carelessness, not on purpose. Thanks for bringing it to my attention. I've added the missing instructions.

  8. Looks SO VERY delicious! My mom makes a similar dish of deep fried tofu topped with scallion oil and fish sauce. It's amazing how wonderful tofu tastes once it's soaked broth. Mmm!

  9. Comfort food! Oh, for a bowl of that with some rice!!!


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