In Indonesia, they have a particular ‘thing’ for tofu and versions of tahu goreng abound. “Goreng” simply means “fried’ and fried tofu can be sauced in many different ways. This sweet-tangy peanut-based concoction is particularly delicious; by using peanut butter and a food processor (in Indonesia they’d traditionally start by deep-frying peanuts then pound everything in a mortar), this dish becomes incredibly quick to make.
- 200 g (2 cups) mung bean sprouts
- 4 Lebanese cucumbers (about 500 g), trimmed and cut into long batons
- 800 g firm tofu
- rice flour, for coating
- peanut oil, for deep frying
- 50 g (⅓ cup) toasted unsalted peanuts, crushed
- 2 ½ tbsp shaved palm sugar
- 2 ½ tbsp tamarind pulp
- 250 ml (1 cup) boiling water
- 5 red birdseye chillies, chopped
- 3 garlic cloves, chopped
- 280 g (1 cup) crunchy peanut butter
- 1 tbsp kecap manis
- 1 tbsp lime juice
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
To make the sauce, combine the sugar in a small saucepan with 125ml (½ cup) water and heat over medium until sugar has dissolved. Remove from the heat.
Meanwhile, combine the tamarind pulp in a bowl with the boiling water then stand for 10 minutes to soften. Push the mixture through a sieve, using your fingers to extract as much thick liquid as possible, discarding solids. Combine the chillies and garlic in a small food processor or a mortar then process or pound with a pestle, until smooth paste forms.
Add the peanut butter, tamarind puree, palm sugar, kecap manis and lime juice and process until a chunky sauce forms, adding water as necessary to make a thick, spoonable sauce. Transfer to a small saucepan and bring to a simmer, Cook, stirring often, over low heat for 4-5 minutes for flavours to develop, adding a little more water if it becomes too thick.
Toss the bean sprouts and cucumbers in a bowl then divide among plates or a large platter. Heat enough oil for deep frying in a wok or large saucepan to 175C. Meanwhile cut the tofu into pieces about 5cm x 2.5cm and toss in flour to coat, shaking off excess flour. Fry the tofu, in batches, for 4-5 minutes or until golden and crisp.
Place on top of the vegetables then pour over the sauce and scatter over the crushed peanuts and serve.
Photography, styling and food preparation by china squirrel.
Recipe adapted from East: Culinary Adventures in Southeast Asia by Leanne Kitchen and Antony Suvalko (Hardie Grant, $39.95, hbk).