One of us ordered their vegetarian Pho, as it was raining, and the other ordered the Fried Tamarind Tofu. Both were great, as were the kimchi dumplings we had as a starter. We left determined to make the tofu dish at home (OK, I left determined to make it and D left determined to try it out when I did).
I've lightened this up considerably, as the original is batter dipped and fried. Dani declared it better than the restaurant version because my version is heavier on the tamarind.
Serves four--inspired by Lost Love Lounge, NOLA
- 1 block of Extra-Firm Tofu, drained and pressed*
- Coconut oil for the pan (just a bit. If you are using a nonstick and want to avoid all fat, just skip this and dry fry it; any oil will be fine, too, I just thought the coconut sounded good)
- 1 onion, sliced in half then in crescent shaped slices
- 3 carrots, peeled and sliced
- 1 crown of broccoli cut into bite sized pieces
- 2 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1 Tablespoon or more of grated fresh ginger
- 1/4 teaspoon of turmeric
- 1/4 teaspoon of black pepper
- 1 teaspoon of ground cumin (toast the seeds and grind them if you have whole)
- 2 Tablespoons of tamarind concentrate
- 1-2 Tablespoons of reduced sodium soy sauce
- 1/4 cup of brown sugar
- Juice of 1/2 lime
- Pinch of crushed red pepper (optional)
8 ounces of rice noodles cooked (do this right before plating, as they will stick together. If they are done before everything else is, you can put them in a water bath (cold water to stop them from becoming a solid mass and to stop the cooking).
- For garnish/serving: Garlic chili paste, cilantro
For the tofu: Remove the tofu from the package, draining off the water. Put a clean kitchen towel under the block and a clean one on top. I tend to put my smallest cutting board on top of that and then my iron skillet (you know, the one I broke the handle off of pressing tofu before?) on top of that. Let this sit for a good 20-30 minutes to get the excess water out. This will allow you to get a good crust on the tofu and will keep it from spitting at you.
Once the tofu has been pressed, cut it into cubes and brown in a skillet. A non-stick with a tiny bit of oil works really well, and as I said above, non-stick with no oil is fine. Set the browned tofu aside.
For the vegetables: In your hot non-stick skillet, stir fry the vegetables. I like a bit of char on my onions, so those go in first to the hot pan. I'm also a "crisp tender" kind of gal, so the broccoli and carrots don't need a whole lot of tending. Stir fry to your likeness and throw in the garlic just at the end to heat through a bit. Turn this out on a plate or cutting board. You're going to use that pan for the sauce.
For the Sauce: Throw in the ginger, brown sugar, tamarind concentrate and spices. Stir in the liquid ingredients and taste to ensure it's at a good level of saltiness. Once this comes together and is rather syrupy, throw in the tofu and make sure it's glazed well. Cook for 2-3 minutes to heat the tofu back up and toss the vegetables in at the end, heating to the desired temperature.