I was raised on simple Vietnamese dishes that my mother has mastered in all her years of being a parent. Of all my mother's recipes, I have to say that I enjoy "Dau Hu Sot Ca Chua" -- Vietnamese for "Tofu in Tomato Sauce" -- the most. This dish is practically 50/50 tofu and tomatoes -- it highlights the delicate texture of fried tofu with a basic sauce made from fresh tomatoes and the subtle zing of green onions. The traditional flavors of Vietnam permeate my mother's kitchen every time she makes this dish, and I hope this recipe transports you to the flavor-rich southeast of Asia! —Full-thyme Student
firm tofu, drained
ripe tomatoes (e.g., plum, hot house, heirlooms)
Fill a wide shallow pan with about 1 inch of vegetable oil and heat over medium-high heat until thermometer reaches 350°. Meanwhile, set a few layers of paper towels on a wire rack to prepare for the fried tofu.
Pat the drained tofu dry with paper towels. Cut the tofu into flat rectangles, roughly the size of two dominoes stacked on top of each other (2 in. X 1 in. X 1/2 in.). Fry the tofu pieces in batches, frying the first side until the tofu is light yellow, like the color of raw corn kernels. Flip the tofu over and continue frying until all of tofu is finished. Drain on paper towels.
Place tomatoes in blender and puree until smooth, about 20 seconds. Measure out blended tomatoes, ensuring that about 1 cup of tomatoes is produced. Blend more tomatoes, if necessary, to get 1 cup of tomatoes.
In a large pan, heat 2 teaspoons of vegetable oil over medium-high heat. Pour in blended tomatoes and heat until bubbling, about 1 minute. Mix in fish sauce and sugar, and heat for another minute. Add chicken broth, and allow sauce to simmer for 2 minutes.
Add fried tofu and cover pan with lid. Allow tofu to absorb sauce for 5 minutes on medium-high heat. Remove lid and allow sauce to reduce, about 3 minutes. Tomato sauce should lightly coat tofu and not be too thin. Adjust for seasoning with more fish sauce and sugar, if necessary. Stir in sliced scallions and serve immediately. Serving suggestions: white or brown rice.