Tofu with peanut sauce

Tofu with peanut sauce

Leanne Kitchen

The Indonesians, particularly on the island of Java, excel at cooking tempeh and tofu. Often these delicious (and cheap) staples are served in curries, or they are deep-fried, as in this recipe. Tofu particularly, because its own flavour is relatively bland, takes on other flavours readily and, if you always think of it as a wholly vegetarian food, think again. This dish, with its peanutty dressing, is gutsy and filling and oh so delicious. It will win over even the most avowed red meat eater.


Quantity Ingredient
200g mung bean sprouts
4 lebanese cucumbers, trimmed and cut into batons
peanut oil, for deep-frying
600g firm tofu
rice flour, for coating
50g roasted unsalted peanuts, crushed

Peanut sauce

Quantity Ingredient
2 1/2 tablespoons shaved palm sugar
2 1/2 tablespoons tamarind pulp
250ml water, boiling
5 red bird’s eye chillies, chopped
3 garlic cloves, chopped
160g roasted unsalted peanuts, chopped
1 tablespoon kecap manis
1 tablespoon lime juice


  1. For the peanut sauce, put the sugar in a small saucepan over medium heat with 125 ml water and heat until the sugar has dissolved. Remove from the heat.
  2. Meanwhile, combine the tamarind pulp with the boiling water in a bowl and stand for 20 minutes. Strain the mixture through a sieve, using your fingers to press down on the solids to extract as much liquid as possible. Discard the solids.
  3. Combine the chillies and garlic in a food processor and process until a smooth paste forms. Add the peanuts, tamarind liquid, palm sugar mixture and kecap manis and process until a chunky sauce forms, adding a little water if necessary – there should be a little texture in the peanuts. Transfer the mixture to a small saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium–low heat. Cook, stirring often, over low heat for 4–5 minutes, until the flavours develop. Add a little more water if the mixture becomes too thick. Stir in the lime juice and remove from the heat.
  4. Toss the mung bean sprouts and cucumber in a bowl then divide among plates or place on a large platter.
  5. Heat enough peanut oil for deep-frying in a large saucepan or wok to 170°C, or until a cube of bread turns golden in 20 seconds.
  6. Meanwhile cut the tofu into pieces about 5 x 2.5 cm and toss them in the rice flour to coat, shaking off any excess flour. Fry the tofu pieces, in batches, for 4–5 minutes or until golden and crisp. Place them on top of the vegetables, pour over the sauce, scatter over the crushed peanuts and serve.
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