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
- Large skillet
- 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
- 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.
- 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 1⁄2 tablespoon soy sauce and 11⁄2 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.