In Singapore, there are 4 main races - Chinese, Malays, Indians and Eurasians. We all live in harmony without any interracial discord thanks to our government. And because we are so connected inter racially, our culinary is all jumbled up as we make each other race's dishes on a daily basis. This dish is of Malay origin and is popularly called Tofu Sambal.
I first learnt how to prepare this dish from my cousin Raihana. She is a wonderful cook. In fact, one of her dishes Vegetable Briyani, was featured in our national newspaper recently ( Way to go Raihana!!).
Along the way I have heard many variations like adding sugar at the end to give it a sweet sour taste or adding tamarind juice to give it an even more sour taste. I have resigned to this version as it goes well with my family.
Initially, I used to make this tofu dish by deep frying the tofus. For obvious reasons, I have started grilling them. I have used chilli paste instead of the authentic way of soaking a handful of dried red chillies and grinding them after.
No tofus at home? No sweat. You can use boiled eggs instead of tofus to come up with Egg Sambal.
Ingredients ( Serves 4)
1 block of firm Tofu ( 16 oz or 450 gm)
Oil for grilling and oil for cooking the spicy tomato sauce
I medium onion, chopped finely
3 garlic cloves, pounded
1 tbsp sambal oelek ( chilli paste ) or 2 if you prefer a spicier sauce ( See Note)
1 tbsp mushroom seasoning ( See note)
4 oz tomato paste ( 110gm)
2 medium very ripe tomatoes ( See note)
Salt for seasoning
Some scallions, sliced for garnishing
Cut the tofu in half and then half again. You should have 4 squares. Cut each square sideways. Now 8 squares. Cut each square diagonally so you will end up with 16 triangles. Grill on a shallow fry pan with minimal oil. Drain tofus on paper towels.
Take a medium sized pot, heat it and add 2 tbsp good quality veg oil.
Fry the chopped onion and then the pounded garlic till golden brown.
Add in the mushroom seasonings and then the sambal oelek. Let this cook for 2-3 mins on medium heat.
Add in the tomato paste and chopped tomato. Again, let it simmer for a few mins. Mash the tomato pieces in the pot so the whole sauce comes together. Season with salt.
Pierce holes into the sides of the grilled tofu and drop them into the sauce. Give it a good stir to get the tofus well coated with the sauce. Let it cook for 5-10 mins.
Serve warm garnished with sliced scallions.
Mushroom seasoning is actually a msg substitute without the bad side effects. Made entirely out of mushrooms. Easily found in Asian Grocery Stores
Sambal Oelek is found in many American grocery stores as well as Asian ones.
I used very ripe red tomatoes for this sauce. Look at the gorgeous red color!
( My first attempt in using Canon DSLR camera instead of my mobile phone for the photos - what a difference in color vibrancy and definition! And I could blur the background while focusing on the dish itself. Amazing )