Green Jackfruit with Tofu
Mít & tàu hũ kho tương is a fairly common vegetarian dish in the Buddhist community. Mít ("jackfruit" in Vietnamese) is picked when it's still green. First, the young fruit is boiled to soften it. Then it's braised in soy sauce and used as a vegetable to accompany tofu. Like tofu, unseasoned green jackfruit is fairly bland but acts as a sponge and absorbs the flavors of the sauce.
The cooking procedure helps to give the jackfruit a soft texture that resembles the pork fat in thịt kho (braised meat), and the stringy texture of the jackfruit simulates the stringy texture of the meat. The result is quite pleasant and surprising. Next time you're in an Asian market, look for fresh young jackfruit; it's delicious!
Yields: 6 servings½ green jackfruit, boiled
1 (18-ounce) package firm tofu
2 tablespoons canola oil (or any neutral oil)
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
1 tablespoon fresh ginger, julienned, cut about 1" long
½ teaspoon red chili powder
1 teaspoon chili garlic sauce
1 (12-ounce) can coconut soda (or water)
3 tablespoons soy sauce
1-½ tablespoons brown sugar
½ teaspoon mushroom seasoning salt (or regular salt)
½ teaspoon black pepper, freshly ground
4 sprigs cilantro (optional), for garnish
Prepping the jackfruit: Drain the green jackfruit. Pat dry using paper towels. Cut into 1-½" pieces.
Pan-frying the tofu: Drain the liquid from the package of the tofu. Pat the tofu dry with a paper towel. Cut the piece of tofu into ½-inch slices. In a wok, heat the canola oil. Pan-fry the slices on both sides until golden. The tofu should have a nice fried outer crust and still be moist inside. Transfer the tofu onto paper towels, leaving as much oil as possible in the wok. Sprinkle with salt. Allow to cool a little. As soon as the tofu is not too hot to handle, cut each slice crosswise into thirds
Braising both the tofu and jackfruit: In the same wok, add more oil if necessary. Add the garlic and ginger. As the garlic becomes slightly golden, add the tofu. Add the chili garlic sauce, red chili powder and brown sugar. Stir-fry for a minute, then add the jackfruit. Immediately add coconut soda (or water) and soy sauce. Toss the ingredients constantly until all the liquid is absorbed. Season with mushroom seasoning salt. Transfer to a serving platter.
Garnish with fresh cilantro.
Serve with jasmine brown rice (it's healthy and as delicious as regular jasmine rice) and nước chấm dipping sauce.
Eat with chopticks!
I buy coconut soda at the Asian market; you can also find it online.
I just tried a new type of tofu. I bought it in a Korean market. The texture is creamier than the usual Thanh Son tofu brand I use. I think the texture of this firm tofu is perfect for this dish. If you live in the Bay Area, you can find it at Galleria. The address is 3531 El Camino Real, Santa Clara, CA 95061. Make sure the package says firm tofu and not soft.
My favorite soy sauce is the Da Bo De brand. It has a very nice flavor and is not too salty. You can find this particular sauce at, for example, Dai Thanh Asian market on 420 S 2nd St, in San Jose. Make sure the bottle says nước tương "chay", which means "vegetarian" in Vietnamese.
You can use store-bought chili garlic sauce, like the one from Lee Kum Kee. It's just that my husband grew habanero and Thai chiles during the summer and we got a whole box full this year. I always make batches of chili garlic sauce. It's called tướng ớt (click on link for the recipe), literally "spicy dipping sauce" in Vietnamese; it's ultra easy.
Mushroom seasoning salt brings a very distinct, earthy flavor to the veggies. If you don't have any, you can always substitute regular salt. You can get mushroom seasoning salt at any gourmet specialty store or in most Korean stores. I get mine at Marina market -10122 Bandley Drive -Cupertino, CA 95014.
The addition of the sesame oil at the end is optional but brings a nice fragrance to the dish.
You can find all the ingredients listed in most Asian stores.
Published By: on March 20, 2010.