Deep-fried tofu with peanut sauce is gonna make you think of tofu like you’ve never, ever thought of it before.
Deep-fried tofu with peanut sauce is a classic for a reason. Made with soy sauce and sambal oelek and shrimp paste and tamarind and coconut milk and, natch, peanuts, it’s kid-friendly and adult-approved. The peanut sauce is also perfect for dipping satay as well as countless other things.–Renee Schettler Rossi
Deep-Fried Tofu with Peanut Sauce
- Quick Glance
- 45 M
- 45 M
- Serves 2 to 4
- For the deep-fried tofu
- 13 ounces firm tofu (380 g)
- Peanut oil, for frying (4 tablespoons if shallow frying and 1 quart if deep-frying)
- For the peanut sauce
- 1 teaspoon tamarind pulp (8 g)
- 1 tablespoon hot water (15 ml)
- 1/2 cup raw peanuts (70 g)
- 1 large garlic clove, crushed (4 g)
- 1/2 teaspoon dried shrimp paste* (found in Asian markets)
- 1/2 cup crushed roasted peanuts (about 140 g)
- 2 tablespoons dark soy sauce (30 ml)
- 1/2 teaspoon sambal oelek, hot chile paste, or store-bought or homemade Sriracha sauce
- 1 teaspoon palm sugar or dark brown sugar (4 g)
- 1/2 cup full-fat canned coconut milk (120 ml)
- 1 cup shredded green cabbage (75 g)
- 1 cup fresh mung bean sprouts, trimmed (115 g)
- 4 scallions, thinly sliced
- Fry the tofu
- 1. Press the tofu by placing it between several sheets of paper towels on a plate and weight it under a heavy skillet or under another plate topped with a can or something heavy for about 1 hour. Cut the tofu into 3/4- to 1-inch chunks.
- 2. To deep-fry the tofu, heat about 1 quart peanut oil in a large, deep-sided pot over medium heat until it measures about 350°F (180°C). Add the tofu to the oil, being careful not to crowd the pot. You may need to fry the tofu in batches, depending on the size of your pot. Cook until golden brown on all sides, being careful not to break up the cubes of tofu. Drain on a paper towel. Reserve the oil for the peanut sauce. To shallow-fry the tofu, heat about 4 tablespoons peanut oil in a wok or large, heavy-based frying pan until hot but not smoking. Add the tofu to the oil, being careful not to crowd the pot and frying it in batches if necessary, depending on the size of your pan. You may need to fry the tofu in batches, depending on the size of your pan. Cook until golden brown on all sides, being careful not to break up the cubes of tofu. Drain on a paper towel. Reserve the oil for the peanut sauce.
- Make the peanut sauce
- 3. In a small bowl, soak the tamarind pulp in the hot water until somewhat softened, about 10 minutes. Smash the tamarind with the back of a spoon or fork and then strain it. Reserve the liquid and throw away the fiber and seeds.
- 4. To fry the peanuts, toss the raw peanuts into the oil in the same pot or pan for 3 to 4 minutes in the same pan, using the oil left from frying the tofu, over medium heat. Then drain well and rub off any skins on the peanuts. Once your pan is hot, it can be easy to burn the peanuts, so keep a close eye on them and reduce the heat to low, if necessary. To roast the peanuts, preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C). Scatter the peanuts on a rimmed baking sheet and roast for 10 to 15 minutes.
- 5. Pour off all but 1 tablespoon of oil from the pot or pan used to fry the tofu. Place it over low heat, add the garlic and shrimp paste, and stir constantly, crushing the shrimp paste with the back of a spoon. Add the crushed peanuts, soy sauce, tamarind liquid, sambal oelek and palm sugar and stir until well combined. Remove the peanut sauce from the heat and gradually add the coconut milk, stirring until the peanut sauce is a thick pouring consistency.
- 6. To assemble everything, place the tofu on a serving plate and top with the cabbage and bean sprouts. Spoon the peanut sauce over the dish and garnish with the scallions and fried peanuts.
*VEGAN DEEP-FRIED TOFU WITH PEANUT SAUCE VARIATION
- To make this dish vegetarian and vegan, substitute vegan Worcestershire sauce or Chinese fermented bean curd for the shrimp paste.