Fried food + spicy sauce = magic. Although I love all vegan foods fried, my favorite thing to fry is plain tofu coated in cornstarch that’s been dredged first in an Ener-G and water slurry. Once placed into oil to fry, the edges become perfectly crisp and sharp, as if they’ve been starched and ironed (and I guess they have been, in a way). It looks beautiful and tastes amazing.
Last year and again this year, a friend of mine gave me several pounds of fresh hot habanero peppers from her father’s garden (yes, pounds). I used them to make a batch of homemade sriracha like I did last year, and it’s currently been marinating on my counter for the past week.
I reserved a few extra peppers this year, and made a thai sweet chili sauce with one of them. Although you can buy this sauce prepared in a bottle, this made-from-scratch version is simple to make in minutes, contains no additives or preservatives and tastes really fresh and vibrant.
I made the heat level in this batch pretty intense (fresh-from-the-garden habaneros are hot!), but you can adjust the spice level any way you want, using any type or amount of hot sauce. It’s perfect with vegan crab rangoon!
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for the sauce
- 1/2 cup rice vinegar
- 1/2 cup water
- 1 1/2 TB sugar
- 1/8 tsp salt
- 2 cloves garlic, finely minced
- 1 TB sambal oelek (more or less, to taste)
- very finely minced fresh hot pepper, to taste (optional)
- 1 TB cornstarch, dissolved in 1 TB cold water
for the tofu
- 1 block of firm tofu (no need to press it)
- 1 1/2 tsp Ener-G, whisked with 5 TB cold water
- 3/4 cup cornstarch
- vegetable oil, for frying
- Place the first four sauce ingredients into a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, then whisk in the garlic, sambal, fresh hot pepper (if using) and allow to simmer for about a minute. Give it a taste, adjusting any of the flavors as needed. Allow it to simmer for a few minutes to slightly reduce. Then add in the cornstarch/water mixture and whisk until slightly thickened. Remove from the heat and set aside.
- Cut the tofu block in half and then those halves into halves. Then cut the pieces into right-angle triangles. Set aside.
- In a medium-sized pot, heat the oil (enough to submerge the triangles in) over medium-high heat. After about 7 minutes, test the oil’s readiness by inserting a wooden spoon into the pot—if bubbles immediately form around the spoon, the oil is ready.
- Dip the tofu triangles into the Ener-G mixture, and then coat it in some of the cornstarch, making sure all sides are covered and tapping off any excess. Place the triangles, two at a time, into the oil and fry until golden, about 4 minutes. Make sure that they do not touch each other or stick to the bottom of the pan by using heat-resistant tongs to move them as needed. Carefully remove from the pot and place on paper towels to drain.
- Serve immediately with the thai sweet chili sauce.