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February 9, 2011 / amyjmcintosh

Luke Nguyen’s crisp tofu cooked in tomato-pepper sauce

Luke Ngyuen's crisp tofu cooked in tomato pepper sauce

Have you ever tracked down a long, lost friend and reconnected after years of silence? If you’re on Facebook, I’m guessing the answer is a resounding yes. Reunions can go one of two ways – you either pick up where you left off or you remember why you lost touch in the first place.

I reunited with tofu recently. We became well-acquainted during my 20’s. Admittedly, I was never very creative with it. I would mainly chuck it in stir-fries and gobble it up with lots or rice and soy sauce. At some point in my late 20’s, I dumped tofu. It was either a case of seeing too much of each other or not realising its true potential. Whatever the case, I haven’t really looked back since… until now.

Now that I’m forbidden to eat grains, eggs, shellfish and dairy (get out the violin), I’ve decided to put a positive spin on the situation by looking at what I can eat. And tofu just happens to be an Amy-safe food. Having recently deep-fried it and drowned it in spicy tomato-pepper sauce, I have to say that I’ve fallen back in love with the stuff. I would describe tofu as the chameleon of the food world – able to adapt to different dishes and take on different flavours with ease and flexibility. In fact, if it were a person, I dare say that I’d really like to meet it.

One of my favourite Australian chefs, Luke Nguyen is the reason behind my rediscovery of tofu. I saw him cook Crispy tofu cooked in tomato-pepper sauce on his awesome show, Luke Nguyen’s Vietnam. I’m not normally one for deep-fried food, but when you can’t have grains, dairy and eggs, you’ve gotta get your kicks somehow.

Think of this dish as a ragout or a bolognese sauce without meat and with lots of spice. The recipe calls for silken tofu, but you’re best to use the firm variety. I highly recommend using vine-ripened tomatoes as they really enhance the flavour of the dish. The sauce turns a nice orange colour after it’s been bubbling away for a while. In theory, you could probably serve four people with this recipe, but Paul and I easily polish off the whole dish between us (served on a bed of rice). I love it so much that I’ve cooked it four weeks in a row!

If you like Vietnamese food, check out Kylie Kwong’s chicken soup.

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