This Vietnamese-inspired dish features juicy tofu served in the most aromatic caramel sauce! This clay pot tofu is infused with shallots, black pepper, and vegan fish sauce. Plus, it has the perfect balance of sweet, salty, and spicy!
📘 What is Braised Tofu
Called "Đậu Hủ Kho Tiêu" in Vietnamese, this tofu dish consists of fried tofu cooked in a sweet, salty, and peppery fish sauce. It is a very popular vegetarian dish in Viet Nam and is often served with white rice on the side.
🍄 Ingredient Notes
This clay pot tofu takes less than 30 minutes to prepare and requires just 9 ingredients:
- Tofu - Use medium to firm tofu. I recommend staying away from extra firm tofu as it would not have a pleasant texture. You want soft and tender tofu.
- Mushrooms - I went with cremini mushrooms, but you can definitely use oysters, white buttons, or shiitake mushrooms.
- Vegan fish sauce - Vegan fish sauce is essential to this recipe if you want to get an authentic flavor. The vegan version is made from fermented soybeans. You can get it in Asian stores or online. If you can't find vegan fish sauce, simply use soy sauce.
- Green onions
- Ground black pepper
- Sugar - Preferably granulated white sugar since we will make caramel.
- Sweet chili sauce - Optional, but it adds extra sweetness and some heat. You can use your favorite chili sauce, sriracha, or homemade sweet chili sauce.
- Soy sauce - For umami and saltiness.
- Shallots - Feel free to substitute it with onion.
🥣 How to Make Braised Tofu
- Fry the tofu. You can deep-fry or pan-fry it, the goal is to have a golden brown "skin". Frying the tofu will allow it to absorb the sauce better and prevent it from crumbling.
- Make the caramel. Next, heat a couple of tablespoons of sugar in a saucepan or clay pot to make a caramel. The caramel will add a deeper flavor to the dish as well as a golden brown color.
- Add the aromatics. Once the caramel has a nice golden brown color, add minced shallots and green onions and cook for about one minute.
- Deglaze the pan. Then, deglaze the pan with water and add vegan fish sauce, sweet chili sauce, soy sauce, and ground black pepper. At first, the caramel might harden but will later melt in the sauce.
- Add the mushrooms and fried tofu, and let simmer for a few minutes to let them absorb the delicious sweet and salty sauce!
🍚 What to Eat With This Braised Tofu
This braised tofu is delicious served over white rice, quinoa, or your favorite grain.
- While I used a clay pot here, you can definitely prepare this recipe in a small cast iron pot or a saucepan. The advantage of the clay pot is that it requires less oil during cooking and keeps the food warm for a longer time.
- Do not omit the frying step. Using white tofu will not work in this recipe as it would not absorb the flavors of the sauce. If you want to save time and omit the frying step, use fried tofu cubes that are often sold at Asian supermarkets.
- Can I air-fry the tofu? Yes! We actually air-fried the tofu here. It should take around 15 minutes to air-fry the tofu.
- Do I need vegan fish sauce for this recipe? It is highly recommended if you want to get an authentic flavor. Soy sauce can be a substitute, but the flavor of the sauce will be different. You can find vegan fish sauce in Asian stores or online. Personally, I asked my local Asian store, and they were able to order it for me, so if you don't see it on the shelves, don't hesitate to ask!
- How long does this tofu dish keep? It will keep for up to 2 days in the refrigerator. Reheat covered over medium heat before serving.
- I don't eat tofu, can I use something else? Yes, there are many variations of this dish. You can simply use more mushrooms or go with a meat substitute like vegan chicken or sausage.
- Is this recipe authentic? Yes, this recipe is based on authentic Vietnamese recipes.
I hope you will love this braised tofu dish as much as I do! The tofu is chewy and juicy, while the sauce has an amazing balance of saltiness and sweetness. Plus, it has a hint of spiciness from the chili sauce and the black pepper!
🇻🇳 More Vietnamese Tofu Recipes
Let me know in the comments if you try this recipe!
Update 2021: Recipe, photos, and post have been updated, it's now even tastier and more saucy! Definitely one of our favorite tofu recipe!
Vietnamese Braised Tofu & Mushrooms
- 2 tablespoon water
- 2 tablespoon sugar
- 1 shallot minced
- 2 tablespoon chopped green onions
- ⅓ cup water
- 2 tablespoon vegan fish sauce
- 1 tablespoon sweet chili sauce or ½ tablespoon sriracha
- 1 teaspoon soy sauce Use Maggi soy sauce for a more authentic flavor
- ⅛ teaspoon ground black pepper more to taste
- ½ cup halved mushrooms I used cremini mushrooms
- 10-12 ½-inch cubes of fried tofu
- Heat the water and sugar in a small clay pot or saucepan over medium heat. Let the sugar caramelize, it should get a golden brown color. Next, add the minced shallot and green onions and cook for one more minute.
- Next, deglaze with the water. Add the vegan fish sauce, sweet chili sauce, soy sauce, ground black pepper, and stir to combine.
- Add the fried tofu and halved mushrooms and bring to a simmer. Let simmer covered for 7-10 minutes. The tofu and mushrooms will soak up the sauce, making them sweet and salty. Taste and adjust seasonings if needed, adding more vegan fish sauce for saltiness, or water to dilute if too salty.
- Serve immediately on top of steaming white rice! This braised tofu and mushroom clay pot will keep for up to two days in the fridge. It tastes even better the next day as the tofu soaked up more flavors.
Hello and thank you for this wonderful recipe. I can't wait to make it but... What if I can't get fried tofu? How can I make this?
Hi, you're welcome! I recommend checking my recipe for fried tofu!
Nice! This looks delicious & I love the mix of mushrooms. What are the green berry-like things, tho?
It is fresh green pepper 🙂
Delicious - a bit sweet for me but easy to adjust.
Maggi is a Nestlé brand. There are plenty of more ethical soy sauces that will give an authentic flavour.
Wild, you can use the soy sauce you want. I'm just giving a tip for those who want to make it the Vietnamese way. I have lived for a year in Viet Nam and I can assure you that Maggi is the most used condiment there, it doesn't have the same flavor as Japanese soy sauces, very different.
I’ve been wanting to make this recipe since it posted. I finally made it and love it! So good. I also really love the idea of making a caramel first in a savory dish. It really adds a lot of flavor. Thank you Thomas for another amazing recipe!❤️❤️❤️
I'm so happy to hear you liked this braised tofu recipe David! Thank you for your feedback 🙂
Bang on! Reminds me of my late grandma’s cooking. Thank you for bringing her memory back to me ❤️
You're welcome KC 😉
What a joy to find so many vegan recipes inspired by one of my favorite cuisines! This was easy to make, including the fried tofu and over the top fabulous to eat.
The fresh ingredients are straightforward and readily available. All the other ingredients are ones I stock as they last very long and are used in many recipes I enjoy. Thank you for this delicious recipe!
Glad you liked this salad Mary! 🙂
Fast, easy and enjoyed by all. I especially liked the mushrooms, my husband liked the tofu (air fried). So I'll keep it the same 😉 Thanks for helping out with dinner again!
You're welcome Tetyana 😉