The soft rice is the toothsome part of this dish, the tofu is silk. Both are the foil for the tangy soy dressing.

steamed tofu with a tart tamari dressing

steamed tofu with a tart tamari dressing

I am a big fan of tofu, which is not to say that I eat it all the time (I don’t really eat anything all the time) but I think it’s pretty spectacular. Some think tofu is bland, but that’s sort of like calling rice or pasta bland–it’s not about the flavour, it’s about the texture and how that pairs with what else you’re having. And like rice or pasta, you don’t need to pair tofu with a lot. It’s true that marinating firm tofu will help flavour the dense insides a little, but I like to prepare silken tofu very simply.

Sometimes I stir fry it, because even when you’re careful about it, some of it will break down and thicken the sauce. But here I chose to leave the tofu whole and steam it, so I could scoop off large pieces with my spoon and eat big but delicate mouthfuls. The soft rice is the toothsome part of this dish, the tofu, true to its description, is silk. Both are the foil for this tangy soy dressing, which is similar to a dressing a Filipino friend of mine used to make to spoon over rice. His raw version called for soy sauce, scallions and sugar. I added rice vinegar and dried chili for more zing, and cooked it down to give it some body.

tamari shallots reducing

silken tofu steaming

So in the end you have softness, silkiness and zing. And a very addictive dish that should be eaten hot, on the couch, cradling your bowl and eaten with a spoon I’d say–the silken tofu in this sauce makes me want to almost drink it. And it just dawned on me today that a spoon is exactly what my Filipino friend would reach for too!

a silky tart spoonful

Steamed Tofu with a Tart Tamari Dressing

550 g brick (approx.) silken tofu, drained
1/4 c tamari or other good quality soy sauce
1/4 c water
1 tsp Chinese red rice vinegar, or white rice vinegar
1/4 c scallions, thinly sliced, plus more for garnish
1/2 tsp sugar
1 dried red chili crushed, or 1/2 red chili, deseeded for a milder sauce

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Line a bamboo or metal steamer with some parchment paper, leaving a few holes uncovered. Carefully transfer tofu to the steamer, cover and steam over boiling water for 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, add the rest of the ingredients to a small saucepan, bring to a simmer and cook uncovered for 5 minutes to reduce by about half. Remove from heat, transfer to a small bowl and top with the raw scallion reserved for garnish.

Carefully transfer tofu to a serving plate (serving on the parchment itself is fine) and spoon some sauce over top. Serve immediately on freshly cooked rice, drizzling a little more sauce onto each serving.

Serves 4.