Caramelized Spicy Tofu
- 17 1/2 ounces (500 grams) tofu
- 2 to 3 tablespoons avocado oil, for frying (untoasted sesame or peanut oil would also be good)
- 1/2 cup water
- 8 3/4 ounces (250 grams) sugar
- 1 small finger ginger, peeled and finely julienned or sliced
- 1 small finger galangal, peeled and finely julienned or sliced
- 1 to 2 red chiles, finely sliced
- 1 lemongrass stem, cut off the base, peel and discard the outer two layers, and finely slice the lower 2 inches
- 1 teaspoon dried shrimps, pounded in a mortar and pestle
- 4 lime leaves
- 1/3 cup lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon fish sauce
Note: This dish utilizes the subtlety and texture of tofu to serve as a vehicle for the spicy flavors of the sweet dressing. The combination of the 2 works really well.
Slice the tofu into 4 pieces and place them in a single layer on absorbent paper, lay some more paper on top and gently press down, leave for 20 minutes. This drains off excess water and makes frying easier.
Heat up a fry pan and drizzle in the oil, add the tofu and fry until golden, gently flip over, and cook on the other side. Take out of the pan and place on a plate. Place a wok over heat and add the water and sugar. Stir until the sugar has dissolved and cook over a moderate heat, without stirring, until the sugar begins to caramelize and goes a golden amber color. Now add the ginger, galangal, chiles, lemongrass, shrimps, and lime leaves and stir it into the caramel. It will firm up a little, but keep it cooking over the heat for 20 seconds, then add the lemon juice and fish sauce and bring to a boil. Spoon the sauce over the tofu and eat while warm.