Coffee and tamarind may not appear at first thought to be a flavour combination that would play nice, but these ingredients come together beautifully in this dish. Also, this will be your new favourite way to prepare tofu.
One of my greatest pet peeves in tofu preparation is that so few Western cooks seems to have discovered the use of boiling water to firm the curd up. Perhaps the method sounds too counter intuitive to try, but it works. Upon draining, it will seem very jiggly, but after it cools the texture will harden.
The boiling water method also ensures your tofu actually absorbs seasonings, which should please those of you left wondering why you bothered to marinate tofu for hours so it could taste like tofu when you cooked it. So if you want a flavourful tofu, boil it with the flavours you want to impart. In the case of this recipe I use only salt, but you could use a stock or, my favourite, a combination of salt and monosodium glutamate.
Tamarind Coffee Fried Tofu
- Cut the tofu into approximate ¼ inch slabs. In a medium saucepan, add the water, salt, and tofu pieces. Bring to the boil for a couple of minutes, turn off the heat, and leave 15 minutes. Remove tofu to drain on a tea towel until cool and dry (at least 15 minutes).
- While the tofu is cooling, in which time it will also firm up, make the tamarind coffee sauce.
- In a mug, brew the coffee by combining the ground espresso and 45 millilitres of the boiling water. Leave for a few minutes and then strain the liquid, using muslin or a fine mesh strainer, into a medium saucepan.
- Combine the tamarind paste and the remaining 60 millilitres of the boiling water in a bowl and mash with a fork (or wait for the liquid to cool and use your hands). There will still be some large bits, but that’s okay. Strain the thick liquid through a mesh strainer into the same saucepan as the coffee, pushing the pulp against the mesh with a spoon to extract as much liquid as possible.
- Add the salt, sugar, sri racha, and seasoning sauce to the same saucepan and heat to melt the sugar. Once the sugar is dissolved, remove from the heat and set aside.
- Heat enough vegetable oil to cover 1 inch of the bottom of a high sided frying pan or wok to medium high. Pat the tofu dry if any dampness remains, and cut each piece diagonally to create two triangles. Fry the tofu for 7-9 minutes, flipping a few times, until the pieces are golden brown and crispy. Don’t overcrowd the pan (you may need to fry in two batches). Drain the tofu pieces on kitchen roll or a tempura rack.
- Once all of the tofu has been fried, bring the saucepan containing the tamarind coffee sauce back to medium heat. Toss the tofu in and stir to coat each piece evenly.
- Dish up and sprinkle with freshly chopped spring onion, coriander, and mint, or any combination of these herbs. Eat alongside steamed Jasmine rice or with a leafy green salad.