This Fermented Chili Tofu is a favorite with vegetarians but you don’t have to be vegetarian to enjoy it. This deliciously briny and creamy tofu, which has been equated to a soft bleu cheese, is often served as a dip for fresh vegetables or simply a flavoring for rice in place of soy sauce or fish sauce. Use it as a seasoning in soups, stir-fries or noodle dishes to add unique flavor to any meal. This recipe is really simple and you’ll love the results–a healthy, homemade tofu condiment without any unwanted preservatives or additives. Enjoy!
Notes on the Recipe, Tips and Tricks
Be sure to use extra firm or firm tofu. Because tofu is soft to begin with and then is immersed in liquid, it breaks up very easily, so choose a firm tofu. Also, be gentle when handling the tofu and once it’s in the jar, do not shake the contents.
There are no set rules for what size to cut the tofu. I prefer smaller pieces because the brine permeates the tofu better. As tofu blocks vary in size, I recommend cutting them so they are about 1/2-inch to 3/4-inch thick.
I use vodka because it’s doesn’t have a strong flavor. Feel free to use a white wine or liquor that you like. Keep in mind that if your alcohol is sweet, you may want to add more salt to balance the flavor. This condiment is suppose to be on the salty side.
If after fermenting for 24 hours you see black mold on the tofu, something has gone wrong and you need to discard the batch. Chances are the tofu was contaminated during the preparation.
If making this during the winter, you may need to let the tofu ferment in the oven for 2 days or more. Each day turn the oven light on for about 1 hour. After the tofu is placed into jars, place them by a heating vent, next to stove or in the oven and again turn the oven light on for about 1 hour each day.
If you’re using a jar with a metal lid, wrap plastic wrap around the mouth of the jar before covering with the lid. This prevents the metal from reacting with the brining liquid during the fermentation process.
As the tofu is preserved, it will keep in the refrigerator for up to 1 year. Make sure to seal it tightly when storing in the refrigerator. Also be sure to use a clean utensil when spooning it out to avoid contamination from other foods. This will help to prolong its life.
Remove the tofu from its packaging. Gently rinse the tofu with cool water and then pat dry using paper towels.
Place the tofu into a colander lined with paper towels. Cover with more paper towels. Place a plate on top of the tofu and something heavy on the plate like a bag of sugar or a bowl. Press the tofu for 2 hours.
Remove the paper towels and discard. Cut the tofu into small pieces approximately 1/2-inch to 3/4-inch sections.
Place the tofu pieces into a baking pan lined with a paper towel. Leave some room in between each piece. Press another sheet of paper towel on top of the tofu. Cover with foil and seal securely. Place the pan into the oven and allow to rest for 24 hours.
To make the brine, combine the water with the salt and stir to dissolve. Add the vodka and sesame oil and combine together.
Uncover the tofu and sprinkle with red pepper flakes. Carefully place the tofu pieces into a jar. Pour in the brining liquid and then seal the jars securely.
Place the jars by a sunny window and allow to ferment for 3 days. After 3 days, place the jars in a refrigerator and allow to ferment for another 10 days.
Yields: 50 pieces, 14 oz