Tahu Goreng: Simple Fried Firm Tofu (Vegan)

Tahu goreng, or ‘fried tofu’, is a simple, common but tasty dish of lightly-marinated or braised firm tofu that’s boiled then deep fried.

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Nunuk Sri Rahayu
Nunuk hails from Solo, the historic royal capital and cultural centre of Java, Indonesia. She has been cooking since the age of 12, and also performs and teaches traditional Javanese dance. Her dream is to eventually write her own Indonesian cookbook.

Tahu goreng or fried tofu is one of the most popular foods everyone is familiar with in Indonesia. So versatile it can be found almost everywhere. Wholesome, tasty and easy to make, it’s not just a favourite of home cooking, but it’s readily available in restaurants and smaller warungs (eateries) too.

Tahu goreng is also one of the best-selling fried snacks that people like to enjoy on the road, when they’re stuck in traffic. In Jakarta, you’ll often find peddlers swarming to your vehicle to offer tahu goreng to munch on so you won’t get bored in the midst of endless unmoving traffic. They will pack the fried tofu in a small plastic bag with a couple of fresh bird’s eye chillies. 

Tahu goreng is very much part of life in Indonesia. It’s literally served everywhere at any time. It’s often present on the dining table, when picnicking with friends, and keeps us company when travelling alone in a bus, train or boat. 

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And yet, when you are out of the country (even in neighbouring places such as Singapore or Malaysia), finding the right tahu goreng is not easy. It can look delicious, but taste bland. Sometimes, no spices, or even salt, are added. 

Preparing Tahu Goreng

To avoid bland tofu, there are two ways of preparing the tofu before it’s deep fried. One is by adding a little bit of water to a spice paste, lightly pressing the tofu against the paste mix, and marinating it for a few minutes before frying.

The other method is to simmer the tofu and the spices. I personally prefer the second way, because simmering allows the tofu to stay fresh longer. I can keep it for a few days in the fridge and fry only the portion I can finish. Also, the longer it is stored, the more it absorbs the spices, which makes it very tasty. 

Tahu goreng can be enjoyed both as a snack, or with rice, as an accompaniment. When served as a snack, it is commonly eaten with fresh whole bird’s eye chilli. Always bite the tofu first before you attempt to bite the chilli, and not vice versa, or your tongue will be burned by the chilli. Tahu goreng is also delicious enjoyed with any kind of sambals, fresh or bottled.

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Tahu Goreng: Simple Fried Firm Tofu (Vegan)

Tahu Goreng: Simple Fried Firm Tofu (Vegan)

  • Author: Nunuk Sri Rahayu
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 10 minutes
  • Total Time: 20 minutes
  • Yield: 4 1x
  • Category: Tofu and Tempeh
  • Method: Frying
  • Cuisine: Indonesian
  • Diet: Vegan

Description

Tahu goreng, literally ‘fried tofu’, is a simple, common and delicious Indonesian dish of lightly-marinated or braised firm tofu that’s then deep fried.


Ingredients

Scale
  • 1 packet of firm tofu (around 250 gr)
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 3 cm fresh turmeric or 1 tsp turmeric powder (optional)
  • 0.5 tsp white pepper powder
  • Salt to taste
  • 1 tsp mushroom stock powder (optional)
  • Water just enough to cover the tofu
  • Cooking oil for deep frying

Instructions

  1. Wash and cut the tofu according to your liking (I usually cut it in squares, around 3×3 cm)

    Wash and cut the tofu

  2. Blend into a fine paste: garlic and turmeric. 
  3. In a small cooking pot, add the tofu, blended spices, white pepper powder, salt and mushroom stock.
  4. Add some water until the tofu surface is all covered.
  5. Boil the tofu over medium high heat for around 15 minutes.
  6. Cool the boiled tofu.
  7. Just before serving, deep fry the tofu until golden, around 4 minutes each side.

    deep fry the tofu until golden

  8. Serve immediately.

    Serve the tahu goreng immediately


Notes

  • The tofu found in Indonesia is firm, and is not the silken tofu of Japanese cuisine. Be sure to use the firm tofu (tau kwa in Singapore), as silken tofu requires a completely different frying technique.
  • One simple pleasure suggestion: a plate of rice served with tahu goreng and sambal kecap. It’s heaven!

Keywords: Non-spicy, quick and easy, common ingredients

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