Indonesian Fried Tofu in Sweet Soy Sauce (Tahu Kecap Kudus)

This vegetarian dish demonstrates the Indonesian cook’s fearless mastery of vegetarian dishes. Tofu is made chewy and richly flavored with a sweet and spicy sauce. Tahu kecap kudus can be served as a main course with white rice or as one of many bowls served at a meal.

Tahu Kecap Kudus – Indonesian Fried Tofu in Sweet Soy Sauce

For Muslims in Indonesia, this dish often replaces meat as the protein source for a main course. This recipe serves 4 as a main course or 8 as a side dish. Fried tofu and onions soak up the sweet and subtle sauce to create a wonderful dish that even a carnivore can love. It can be made in advance and refrigerated for a few days.
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Course: Brunch, Side Dish
Cuisine: Indonesia, Southeast Asian
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 45 minutes
Servings: 6
Author: My Hungry Traveler

Equipment

  • Large skillet

Ingredients

  • 14 oz Package extra-firm tofu
  • 1 cup Vegetable oil
  • 2 Bay leaves
  • 1 cup Water
  • ½ medium Onion, sliced
  • 2 cloves Garlic, sliced thin
  • 2 small Red chilies, stemmed, sliced into thin rings, seeds discarded
  • 1 tbsp Fresh ginger, minced
  • 1 tbsp Fresh galangal, minced (optional)
  • 1 tsp Shrimp paste or Asian fish sauce
  • 3 tbsp Kecap Manis (Indonesian sweet soy sauce). See notes below for substitute

Instructions

  • Prepare Tofu – Cut drained block horizontally into ½-inch slices. Cut slices vertically in half and then slice halved tofu into ½-inch slices. Dry on paper towels. Fry tofu in a large frying pan in vegetable oil over medium-high heat. Tofu is done when both sides become golden brown, 10 to 15 minutes. Drain on paper towels and set aside.
  • Fry Vegetables – Drain all but 2 tbsp oil from the pan. Fry onions, garlic slices, ginger, chili, bay leaf, shrimp paste, and galangal, if using, for 5 minutes. Add sweet soy sauce (Kecap Manis) and water. Bring to a boil.
  • Finish – Return tofu to the pan and reduce heat to medium. Cook until the liquid is completely reduced and absorbed by the tofu. Serve with white rice or in a serving bowl as part of a complete meal.

Notes

  • Kecap Manis is a sweet soy sauce used extensively in Indonesian cooking. The color is that of soy sauce, but the consistency is much thicker and almost honey-like in viscosity.
  • If you need a substitute, you can mix 50% soy sauce with 50% coconut palm or even, granulated sugar. For example, replace 3 tablespoons of kecap manis with 1 12 tablespoon soy sauce and 112 tablespoon coconut palm sugar.
  • Many Indonesian recipes rely on kecap manis. If you love cooking Indonesian recipes, be sure to stock your pantry with a bottle or two of kecap manis.

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