Silken tofu with spicy sauce and peanuts

Silken tofu with spicy sauce and peanuts

The Real Food of China
Leanne Kitchen

We have fond memories of eating soft, hot tofu like this in Sheng Li, an historic village in the Sichuan backblocks. In the mornings an elderly fellow would go from alley to alley, selling ladlefuls of his home-made tofu, steaming and hot from a large wooden tub. It tasted smoky and comforting ... until we got to the sediment at the base of the bowl — a fiery sludge of oil, chilli and mouth-numbing Sichuan peppercorns.


Quantity Ingredient
750ml vegetable oil, or enough for deep-frying
8 fresh egg wrappers, sliced into thin strips
1kg silken tofu
110g raw, red-skinned peanuts, roasted, (see note)
2 spring onions, finely sliced
ready-made sichuan preserved vegetables, to serve (optional)


Quantity Ingredient
60ml peanut oil
60ml sichuan chilli bean paste, or to taste
80ml black rice vinegar
2 tablespoons light soy sauce
250ml Chicken stock
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 1/2 tablespoons sesame oil
2 1/2 tablespoons caster sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons Strained chilli oil, (optional)


  1. To make the sauce, heat the peanut oil in a small saucepan over a medium heat, then add the chilli bean paste and cook, stirring, for 2–3 minutes, or until fragrant. Remove from the heat, then add the remaining sauce ingredients, stirring until the sugar has dissolved.
  2. Pour the vegetable oil into a large wok and heat to 180°C, or until a cube of bread dropped into the oil turns deep golden in 15 seconds. Add the strips of egg wrapper and fry for 3–4 minutes, or until puffed, golden and crisp. Remove using a slotted spoon and drain on paper towel.
  3. Using a metal spoon, scoop off pieces from the tofu block, dividing them carefully between two large heatproof bowls. Carefully pour over enough boiling water to cover the tofu, leave for 6–7 minutes to heat through, then drain. Divide among four warmed bowls. Pour the sauce over the tofu, then scatter some of the fried wrappers, peanuts and spring onions over the top. Serve the remaining wrappers, peanuts and spring onions separately, with the preserved vegetables, if using.


  • Preheat the oven to 180°C. Put the peanuts on a baking tray and roast for 15 minutes, or until golden, then remove the peanuts from the tray and cool.
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