It's summer in Texas and we have a lot of peppers to spare. I adapted this recipe from a chicken version that my mom made when she visited. I love the beautiful color combination of the darker firm tofu, onions and bell peppers so I named it Tofu Delight. You can substitute chicken or pork for tofu.
As for tofu, I use firm tofu for this dish. To fry, take the tofu out from the water. Sit the tofu pieces on kitchen towels and then cover those pieces with another towel and put something heavy on top to release water from tofu blocks. That way, when you fry, it will not splash the oil everywhere. To fry tofu, cut them to bite size, fill up a pot (a dutch over is best or any medium size pot will be fine) with vegetable oil. If you have a deep fryer, you know what to do. Heat up the oil until it reaches about 350 F. If you don't have fryer thermometer, try putting a piece of tofu in and see if it start bubbling. You can also test it with a few drops of water. When the oil is hot enough, add tofu to the oil. Make sure you don't add too much tofu in there, may be a couple of handfuls. Adding too much tofu in the oil will bring the temperature down too much. Fry for about 3 minutes and take them out when they start floating.
If you follow the steps above, you will get a perfectly fried food that is not so greasy. When you fry food, it is important that your oil is hot enough. When you add food to the hot oil, the temperature of the oil will boil the water in the food and that's why it starts to bubbles. Since water and oil don't mix, oil can't penetrate into the food because of steam barrier around the food. Another very important rule about frying is that you take your food out when it's done. Foods will start floating when it's done because it gets lighter from losing so much water. Take your food out before it stops bubbling to ensure crisp and non greasy fried food.
This is super easy dish that you can make often. Right now, bell peppers are in season until it freezes so you have no excuse to not make this dish. The combination of shallot, garlic and cilantro stems is so aromatic that you guests for dinner will ask "what are you cooking?" as soon as they enter the house. You can switch things up using bit size chicken or even pork or beef for this dish. Simmer pork or beef a little longer than tofu and chicken.
3 tbsp vegetable oil
2 tbsp chopped shallots
2 tbsp chopped garlic
1 tbsp chopped cilantro stem
1/4 tbsp chopped chilies
2 cups chicken/tofu
1 cup sliced onions
2 tbsp palm sugar
1 tbsp sugar
3-4 tbsp soy sauce
3-4 tbsp dark soy sauce
1 cup water/stock
3 cups chopped bell peppers
a pinch of chopped cilantro
a pinch of ground black pepper
Heat the oil in a pan, add shallot, chilies, cilantro stems and garlic and fry until fragrant.
Add chicken/tofu and stir fry.
Add water, sugar, palm sugar and both of soy sauces.
Simmer for about 10 minutes until the meat or tofu is darkened with dark soy sauce.
Add more water/stock if needed.
Add onions and stir fry until translucent.
Add bell pepper and stir fry about a minute.
Taste and adjust. It should taste sweet and salty.
Turn off the heat and sprinkle cilantro and black pepper.
Serve with rice.