Tofu is a good source of vegetable protein, and it combines well with any number of ingredients to create countless vegetarian variations.
Try it cubed, lightly fried and tossed in a spicy sweet onion-based sambal. Add a colourful sprinkle of sweet corn, red peppers and fresh snow peas and you have a spicy, sweet and crunchy fresh-tasting treat that will make you forget it’s all vegetarian.
2 pieces hard tofu (tau kwa), cut into 2cm cubes
100g sweet corn kernels
1 red bell pepper
8-10 snow pea pods
1 tablespoon chilli paste
2 cloves garlic
1 tablespoon honey
1 teaspoon salt
1. Process chilli paste, skinned shallots and garlic cloves into a fine puree. Heat up a little oil in a non-stick pan and fry the paste till fragrant. Season to taste with honey and salt. Cool to room temperature.
2. In a clean frying pan, heat up some vegetable oil and fry tofu cubes until they are lightly golden on all sides. Be patient, and use a medium fire to make sure the tofu is tender inside but nice and crisp outside.
3. While tofu is frying, wash and rinse red bell pepper and snow peas.
4. Dice red pepper, and slice each snow pea pod into thin slivers on the diagonal. Chill in the fridge until ready to use.
5. When all the tofu cubes are ready, pour away any excess oil from the frying pan and add the chilli dressing. Toss the tofu cubes so they are thoroughly coated. Plate the tofu cubes and pile on the diced red pepper, sweet corn kernels and the snow pea slivers. Serve at once and allow each diner to toss their own portion of salad at the table.
Pauline D Loh is a journalist, culinary researcher and cookbook author with a particular interest in food culture and history. Currently working on her fourth and fifth cookbooks, Pauline also maintains a food and travel column in China daily, China's largest English news publication.