Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Tofu with Sa Cha Sauce (沙茶豆腐)

A recent experiment that vegetarianizes a common Taiwanese dish.

3 spoons sa cha sauce
2 spoons soy sauce
sesame oil as needed
2 blocks firm tofu
1 bulb onion
1/2 bunch nine-storied pagoda basil

0. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
1. Dry tofu and cut into thin slices.
2. Cut onion in half. Slice. Set aside.
3. Mix sa cha sauce with soy sauce in a bowl.
4. Lightly coat a glass baking dish with sesame oil on the bottom. Place slices of tofu in the dish. Evenly pour (3) on top. If more than one layer is needed, then put a little more sesame oil, place more tofu on top, sauce, repeat.
5. Place (4) in the oven until the slices of tofu seem reasonably firm on the outside. 15 min?
6. Heat up a wok. Apply a tiny amount of sesame oil. Add (2).
7. When onions are slightly softened, take out (5) from the oven and add to the wok. Make sure you add the sesame oil-sauce liquid also.
8. Stir-fry (7) with nine-storied pagoda basil for a short amount of time. Serve.

The original version uses thin-sliced lamb instead of tofu. Other thin-sliced meat would work also.

Instead of nine-storied pagoda basil, you can use thai basil. Maybe basil or even cilantro would work also. You might also be able to do without it.

Substituting sa cha sauce is a bit harder. It is not that difficult to find in Asian markets. However, if you do not have it on hand, then perhaps a mix of fermented bean paste, fried shallots and fish sauce would serve as a substitute?

Consider adding a bit of sugar and rice wine to the sa cha and soy sauce mixture.

The point of putting tofu with the sauce in the oven is to marinate and at the same time also firm it up a bit so that they retains the shape when your stir-fry them. An equally okay way is to marinate the tofu ahead of time and directly stir-fry in a wok.

When you are done eating, there will probably be some sesame oil-sauce liquid at the bottom of the plate. This would complement some plain noodles quite well for next day's lunch!

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