Spicy Sweet and Sour Tofu
- 14 ounces Extra Firm Tofu
- 2 1/2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 3 tablespoons raw sugar (Turbinado or Demerara preferably, white sugar can be used in a pinch.)
- 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
- 1 1/2 teaspoons fish sauce
- 1/2 teaspoons crushed red pepper
- 3 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
- 1-inch piece of ginger, minced or grated on a microplane
- zest from one lime
- 1 tablespoon neutral oil (canola or peanut)
- Optional: chopped fresh cilantro for garnish
Lay the tofu block on its widest side on a cutting board over a towel. Lay two dinner plates on top of the tofu as a weight and let it drain for 10 minutes. Lift the plates, flip the tofu block, replace the plate and let drain for another 10 minutes. Repeat the process once more for each side. Your total draining time should be at or over 40 minutes. This draining makes the tofu hold together better and pop less in the hot oil.
Set the tofu block on the long, narrow side and slice into four narrow cards. Stack the cards and cut lengthwise, then crosswise into four rectangles. Cut the rectangles diagonally into triangles. This should give you 8 triangles per card, for a total of 32 triangles.
Whisk together the soy sauce, sugar, lime juice and zest, fish sauce, crushed red pepper flakes, garlic, and ginger until the sugar is dissolved. Set aside.
Pour the oil into a 12-inch non-stick skillet (or well-seasoned cast-iron skillet) over medium heat. Carefully and quickly arrange the tofu triangles in the hot oil. The combination of oil and tofu has a tendency to spit, so you need to be cautious. Work quickly, but don’t throw the tofu or it will fall apart despite your best efforts. Fry the tofu, without moving it, for 4-5 minutes, or until it is golden brown on the underside. Use tongs or a spatula to flip all the tofu triangles.
Turn the heat under the pan to high. Whisk the sauce one more time and pour over the hot tofu and pan. The sauce should bubble up and boil almost immediately. Gently toss the tofu to coat well. Continue cooking and tossing until the sauce is syrupy. This will take from 2-4 minutes.
Serve tofu triangles immediately in the syrup. I prefer this over sweet brown rice, but it is also good over Calrose or sushi-type rice. I like it accompanied by stir-fried green vegetables of some sort, but use whatever you enjoy most.