Local Hawaii ingredients used with an international flair
Sunday, April 10, 2011
Vietnamese tofu in tomato pepper sauce
by Nanette Geller
We love Vietnamese food but I don’t cook it very often. I was inspired by a recent episode of Luke Nguyen's Vietnam on the Cooking Channel to try this dish, which looked pretty easy and seemed quite different from the Vietnamese food we generally see in Honolulu restaurants.
I made a few minor adaptations, substituting extra firm tofu for silken tofu and canned chopped tomatoes for fresh. Instead of frying the tofu, I tossed the cubes with a little oil and crisped it in the oven at 450. It’s not quite as crispy as deep fried, but it’s healthier and makes an acceptable substitute.
Since I had fresh green peppercorns I lightly crushed some and added along with the tomatoes. I still included the black pepper added at the end. The flavor of the green peppercorns married well with the overall flavors of the dish.
I love fish sauce but it’s very salty. Instead of 2 tablespoons, I used about 2 teaspoons and made up the difference with shao xing (Chinese rice wine). I also left out the salt called for in the recipe. That’s shao xing in the small glass.
The resulting dish was light, deliciously spicy, and well balanced. We enjoyed it served over brown rice noodles (pho/fettuccini style). Maybe not authentic, but really good. It wasn’t difficult to make, so I plan to serve it again soon.
I guess if we want Vietnamese food outside the usual Honolulu fare, I’m going to have to learn to make it myself.
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