This Vietnamese-inspired dish features juicy tofu served in the most aromatic caramel sauce! It 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.
🥣 How to Make Braised Tofu
First, you want to 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.
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.
Note: While we 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.
Once the caramel has a nice golden brown color, add minced shallots and green onions and cook for about one minute.
Vegan Fish Sauce
Vegan fish sauce is an essential to this recipe if you are looking to get an authentic flavor. The vegan version is made from fermented soybeans. You can get it in Asian stores or online.
Finally, add sliced mushrooms, fried tofu cubes, and let simmer for a few minutes to let them absorb the delicious sweet and salty sauce!
- 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 won't be as aromatic. 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 chick'n or vegan sausage.
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!
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.