In the tips section at the beginning of the book, Nguyen explains that soaking pieces of tofu in hot, salted water allows the surface of each piece to firm up after being dried. Then, when the pieces are fried, the oil drains from them more easily. The salted water also seasons the tofu pieces giving them even better flavor. The cut tofu pieces only need to sit in the hot, salted water for about 15 minutes. Then, they’re drained and dried before being fried. Once the tofu pieces have all been fried and are left to drain of excess oil, the rest of the dish is a snap to prepare. Finely chopped shallot, chiles, and lemongrass were stir-fried briefly before sliced bell pepper and asparagus were added. The recipe includes green beans as it's written, but asparagus is mentioned as an option. After a couple of minutes, the fried tofu was added followed by a mixture of sugar and curry powder. A scant quarter cup of coconut milk and a bit of fish sauce were added, and that was all there was to it.
The fried tofu was crispy and chewy with a good, golden crust. Since the crust formed quickly as the tofu fried, there was no chance for oil to soak in and lend heaviness. The dish was just rich enough with the tofu and the small amount of coconut milk, and the flavor with the added lemongrass and heat of the chiles was miles beyond what you’d expect from a plate of tofu and vegetables. I can already tell that with this book, I’ll be an even bigger fan of tofu than I was before.
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