Silken Comfort Tofu

January  1, 2010
5 Ratings
Photo by Bobbi Lin
  • Prep time 5 minutes
  • Cook time 10 minutes
  • Serves 2, as a main course
Author Notes

This is a spicy and comforting dish I created in the spirit of eating more meatless meals. It's a perfect dish for a cold winter's day, and a great antidote to holiday overindulgence. Do try to find Chinese peanut oil, which adds a great toasty flavor to the dish. —Abra Bennett

Test Kitchen Notes

As Jenny notes in the related article, don't be discouraged if you don’t have all the ingredients exactly as written, the dish will be delicious regardless. In the photo above we added some shelled edamame for a little color. —Food52

What You'll Need
  • 1 tablespoon peanut oil, Chinese if possible
  • 2 shallots, sliced thin
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon Chinese chili-garlic sauce
  • 1/4 cup fish sauce
  • 1 tablespoon natural peanut butter
  • 1/4 cup hot water
  • 1 teaspoon sugar (optional)
  • 1 pound silken tofu, cubed
  • 4 green onions, sliced
  • 1/2 cup chopped cilantro
  • 1/4 cup basil chiffonade, use Thai basil if possible
  • chili oil for drizzling
  1. Heat the peanut oil in a large skillet and saute shallots until golden. Add sliced garlic and sizzle briefly. Add chili-garlic sauce and fry until fragrant. Add fish sauce and sizzle until nearly evaporated. Stir in peanut butter, so mixture forms a rough paste. Whisk in hot water (and sugar, if using)—the consistency of the mixture should be between a thick sauce and a loose paste.
  2. Gently stir in the tofu, trying to keep cubes intact as much as possible, Stir in green onions, cilantro, and basil and heat through. Drizzle with chili oil and serve with brown or basmati rice.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Will
  • Jessica Alexandra
    Jessica Alexandra
  • AntoniaJames
  • Tamara Hudes Agarwal
    Tamara Hudes Agarwal
  • Sophie S.
    Sophie S.
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18 Reviews

Alexandraslp8 October 23, 2022
I have to admit I was skeptical about this combination of ingredients but OMG this was so delicious! I also used much less fish sauce but I thought it had the perfect balance of salty, creamy, spicy even with a reduced amount.
Will May 12, 2020
Delicious dish, reduced fish sauce by 1/2 and flavor was great
Deb September 10, 2018
Our family didn't like the silken tofu in this dish. It didn't hold together and was too gelatinous. I think we would have liked it much better with a firm tofu, but I would be afraid to try it again.
eveross May 21, 2018
This was great, but, i didn't read the comments first....too much fish sauce so way too salty. Will use less next time, but my husband (a non tofu lover) said he'd be happy to eat it once a week....served with roasted Kamoboka squash. the sweet squash was great with the salty yummy tofu...
Jessica A. January 9, 2018
So sad I failed to scroll down to read all the comments! Used a 1/4 cup of Golden Boy fish sauce, and the resulting dish was almost inedibly salty, notwithstanding its obvious 'good bones'. Heed my cautionary tale, and use only a few dashes.
AntoniaJames January 8, 2018
Bought silken tofu yesterday to make this again, and I can hardly wait. Will serve over farro, with edamame as shown in the photo, plus broccoli, for a fine one-bowl dinner. ;o)
Louise February 6, 2016
Not really meatless if it has fish sauce in it
Maggie April 13, 2017
You can buy vegan fish sauce
Tamara H. January 1, 2015
This was truly amazing! Everyone in my family loved it and went back for seconds.
Val F. July 12, 2014
I made this last night and it was spectacular. I substituted light coconut milk for the fish sauce and water because I wanted it to be vegan. I served it with basmati rice and this dish had my whole family astounded that they were absolutely loving lowly tofu. This recipe elevates tofu to true delicious and soul warming comfort food. This is the best tofu dish I have ever had and will be a staple in my journey to veganism. It obliterated the need for takeout Asian. It is restaurant quality. This dish is gonna change my life!
Sophie S. May 26, 2014
This sounds really good! Haha I think I'll make this tomorrow for lunch.
Have you tried plain tofu with fresh minced ginger, chives and a bit of sesame oil? It's wonderful too!
AntoniaJames January 30, 2013
Well, you sure got it right using "comfort" in the title. Here's some comfort food at its best. I made a batch last night; it tasted great when I made it, but even better this morning. I subbed three large scallions for the shallots, left out the chili paste, but added a splash of brown rice vinegar right at the end to brighten it up. Outstanding! Will definitely be making this again, and on a regular basis. ;o)
bonnie59 July 19, 2012
Finally tried this recipe and it was delicious! Will continue to make this for one of our meatless meals.
Rivka December 7, 2011
Made this after reading the above comments, and cut back on the fish sauce. Still found the dish too salty, but flavors were great and silken tofu may be my new favorite food. I'm looking forward to experimenting with similar flavors for my next batch.
rickygee July 27, 2010
Ok, 1/4 cup fish sauce has got to be a miss print. I only used 4-5 shakes from the bottle, tablespoon at the most. Fish sauce is way to salty to use a 1/4 cup for this amount of ingredients. If you're using a good hot garlic-chile sauce the heat from that will make up for the salt. Add the water or chicken stock and use as much as is needed to make a sauce that will cover the type of starch you use...use rice or rice vermicelli. I used a squirt of lime at the end.
Angie July 5, 2010
I made this and thought it was very tasty. I added a squirt of lime juice at the end.
Savorykitchen February 23, 2010
I made this last night and really enjoyed it, except ... maybe my fish sauce was saltier than yours, but woof, was my dish salty. I'm going to make it again with less fish sauce and I'm sure it'll be fantastic (because, it was pretty great - despite the salt).
student E. February 3, 2010
Thank you for sharing this! Oh so comforting! I added some Sichuan pickled vegetable too.