Goodbye European castles and cobblestoned streets!
Goodbye budding tulips and daffodils in chilly wind!
Goodbye giant plates of steak and potatoes, beer and sausages!
We’re back home to sunshine and beach, to mangoes and watermelons, and to vegetables and herbs!
Much as I enjoyed Europe and the food there, I missed vegetables since I was not used to eating big portions of meat, cheese and potatoes everyday. After two weeks, my body started telling me that I’d eaten enough meat for several months and that I needed fruits and vegetables badly. And so our first three-course Vietnamese meal at home was all vegan: sautéed water spinach with garlic, fried tofu in tomato paste, and mushroom soup in tomato and pineapple broth.
Vegetarian and vegan dishes are an important part of Vietnamese cuisine, and since it’s an art to us, we have a lot of naturally vegan dishes that are as delicious as any fine meat recipes. My husband loves meat and used to be somewhat anti-vegan, but he changed his mind completely after trying some amazing vegetarian restaurants in Hochiminh City. I think good food is supposed to make people happy, be it veggies or meat.
The dish I’m introducing today is a quick home-food vegan recipe that I’ve been making since I was in third grade. I used to make it everyday when I was still staying with my parents because everyone in my family loved it. My father’s home village had a tradition of making tofu so we were able to have freshly made organic tofu everyday. Every morning, I would wait in front of our house for a tofu seller to pass by and I would buy four blocks. Tofu was sold from bamboo baskets, and the seller was very skilled at moving blocks of tofu that were still warm and so fragile onto my plate.
Back then, even though I made this dish everyday, sometimes I failed as I had to use a coal stove, which made it very difficult to control the temperature. I had to fan it to turn up heat, and closed a small window on the stove when the heat was too high. Once in a while, I burnt pieces of tofu and when that happened, I tried to eat the all the blackened pieces so my parents wouldn’t know about it.
Now with a gas stove, it’s so easy to have perfectly golden fried tofu, which tastes so creamy and flavorful with made-from-scratch tomato sauce. Below is the recipe. Hope you’re having a wonderful weekend!
Vietnamse Fried Tofu in Tomato Sauce
(naturally vegan and gluten-free)
Serves 2 as side dish
Firm tofu: 300 grams
Tomatoes: 350 grams, diced
Scallion: 3 sprigs, chopped
Sugar: 1 teaspoon (optional)
Salt: to taste
Vegetable oil: 6 tablespoons
- Pat dry the tofu carefully using paper towels. Cut into 1cm thick and 3cm-4cm long pieces (about 0.3 inch thick and 1.5 inch long)
- Over medium heat, pre-heat non-stick frying pan, add vegetable oil and cook for one minute. Add tofu. Be careful to avoid splashing. Fry until one side is golden, then flip and fry until the other side is golden. Plate and set aside.
- Heat the same frying pan. Add the white part of scallion. Stir until fragrant (about 1 minute). Add tomatoes. Add sugar (optional) and salt to taste. Stir over medium heat until the tomatoes become a thick sauce (about 5-7 minutes)
- Reduce heat to low. Add tofu. Lightly stir and cook for about 10 minutes . Add scallion, stir well and remove from heat.
Serve on its own or with jasmine rice.