Please, if you haven’t run for the hills yet then at least read the recipe and then you can add whatever you like in it if you’re not a tofu fan. I even used basil instead of cilantro for the cilantro haters!
Seriously though, this is a childhood favorite of mine and something that my mom used to make all the time. It brings back so many fond memories of my mom cooking in our old kitchen and me just watching her do her magic.
A traditional Vietnamese family meal would consist of steamed rice, a meat dish, a vegetable dish and a soup and the whole family would share it. The dishes would be in the center of the table and each family member would have a small bowl with rice. We used our chopsticks to pickup the food and then eat it in our rice bowl. Unlike American traditions, the last part of the meal is the soup. We would pour the soup into our rice bowls to finish it off with our remaining rice.
- 14 oz. package of extra firm tofu, sliced into bite-sized pieces
- 2 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1/2 small yellow onion, roughly chopped
- 2-3 stalks of green onion, chopped
- 2 tomatoes, sliced into bite-sized pieces about the same size as the tofu
- 1 tablespoon of fish sauce to stew the tomatoes and onions and 2 tablespoons of fish sauce for the broth
- Cilantro/basil for garnish
- Sriracha hot sauce, optional
Here’s a the tofu package that I used that I bought from Kroger. Normally I buy the extra firm tofu that is already pre-sliced.
I laid the tofu on the side and first cut it in half length-wise. Then I sectioned it into thirds and then cut it into half-inch sized pieces.
I used a small 6 quart sauce pan because I wasn’t planning on making a lot of soup. On medium heat, sauté the onions and garlic for a couple of minutes and lightly salt and pepper. I like to add salt and pepper to every layer so that it is well seasoned. Then add the tomatoes, fish sauce and black pepper.
When the tomatoes have been stewed for a few minutes, add water to the pot about 3/4 of the way full. Turn the heat on high and add the tofu, rest of the green onions, fish sauce, salt and pepper and bring to a boil. Let it simmer on low heat for 5 to 10 minutes until the soup has reduced a little.
Spoon into a bowl and add fresh basil or cilantro to serve.
A more traditional Vietnamese way of making this soup is frying the tofu pieces first. You could do that but I think this is a quicker, healthier version of it. Sometimes I like to add in chopped chicken breast or ground pork as another protein in the soup if I have some left over from another dish I’m making that day. I suppose if you are not a tofu fan at all you could omit it and just use another protein like chicken, pork or shrimp. That’s not really the soup I’m making here but as always, if you like the basis of the soup then you can change it up according to your liking. You could also use a chicken stock or vegetable stock as well but I’m fine with just the water as long as it is well seasoned.
Oh and by the way, if you haven’t figured out by now that Vietnamese cooking requires fish sauce then you might not want to read the rest of my blog posts.;-)