It might seem odd that after spending much of the summer in Kediri, self proclaimed Kota Tahu (Tofu City) in Indonesia, that one of the first things I cooked upon returning to the States was this silken tofu dish, but this is not something you generally find in Indonesia. I first tasted something like this dish some years ago in Kuala Terengganu in Malaysia. Tjing and I were at a rather unassuming Chinese restaurant and decided to give it a try. It was a surprising burst of flavor against the backdrop of the silken tofu. I have never come across the dish at any other restaurant. Web searches have been fruitless as well.
When Andrea Nguyen's Asian Tofu came out, I eagerly purchased it hoping to find a recipe for the dish in it. Alas, although her book has many delicious recipes (and the silken tofu I used in this recipe is made following her directions), it doesn't have this recipe in it. She has several recipes using silken tofu cold, but nothing like that dish we had in KT.
Actually, this is similar to the Chinese way of steaming fish. The tofu is steamed and then sprinkled with finely julienned ginger and green onions, sprinkled with a vinegar-laced soy sauce dressing and chopped cilantro, and then drizzled with smoking hot peanut oil. The oil flash cooks the herbs and adds a richness to the tofu. This is one of those dishes meat eaters and vegans can both enjoy. Indeed, this is one of those dishes that could actually get meat eaters to concede that a vegan diet might be possible, were all vegan dishes this tasty.
Silken Tofu with Ginger, Green Onions, and Cilantro
1 block of silken tofu, sliced into 1-inch thick rectangles
4 tsp kecap manis
4 tsp black vinegar
3 tsp soy sauce
1 inch piece of young ginger, peeled and finely julienned
2 green onions, cut into 2-inch lengths, finely julienned
1/2 cup cilantro, roughly chopped
1 tsp sesame oil
2 TBS peanut oil
Place the tofu on a plate, place half the ginger and green onions on top and steam for 8 minutes.
Drain accumulated liquid from the plate. Mix together the kecap manis, vinegar, and soy sauce. Pour this mixture over the steamed tofu. Sprinkle the remaining ginger, green onion, and the chopped cilantro on top. Heat the peanut oil in a small pan until it is smoking. Add the sesame oil and then drizzle this over the tofu dish. Serve with steamed rice.