This is another dish that was served at my then favourite Indonesian eatery. “Then favourite” because the eatery has since closed not for want of customers but because the owners and chefs have retired. I don’t feel the pain of the closure too much as I can replicate most of the dishes that I enjoyed. I am not mentioning it as a boast but as a testament to how much I like to eat what I like to eat. I frequented the eatery so often and had the very same dishes so many times because I could not get enough of it.  It’s all driven by greed.  Thereafter, it was a natural progression of deciphering what went into the plates of food I liked best. This dish does taste like the one I used to order all the time from that food stall.  There is only a touch of coconut milk in the sauce so it is very light tasting dish with a subtle sour and citrus note from the tamarind and the kaffir lime leaves. I like that there is tofu in it as it means paired with rice it becomes dinner or lunch. Oh and I must eat this with a little of my fiery Sambal Chilli, then the meal is complete.

This is one of this dishes I served at recent Indonesian inspired dinner party. I have since posted the recipes for: Easy Asian Pineapple Salad, Asianized Tuna & Potatoes Patties and Sambal Chilli.


Bean Sprouts And Tofu In A Citrusy, Light, Thin Coconut Sauce

Prep: 15 minutes 
Cook: ~5 minutes
Level: Easy
Serves: 2 as part of a rice based meal
Oven Temperature:
Can recipe be doubled? Yes
Make ahead? No


200g bean sprouts
1 small sized onion (~0.6 oz) (~17g)
1 stalk spring onions
1 green/red chilli
1 block firm tofu
1 thick slice (~0.25 oz)(~7g) galangalOR 1 lemongrass
4 kaffir lime leaves**
1 blade of tumeric leaf***
1/4 cup mixed frozen vegetables
2 and 1/2 Tablespoons neutral tasting oil
1/2 teaspoons chicken granules* OR vegetable stock cube
1 cup water
2 – 3 teaspoons fish sauce (replace with ~1/2 teaspoon salt for a vegetarian version)
1/4 cup tamarind water** OR ~2 – 3 Tablespoons lime juice
3 Tablespoons coconut milk/cream
* Refer to image below. It is also referred to as Blue Ginger but it does not taste anything like ginger. Instead, it has a light citrusy taste. Add too much and it becomes overpowering. Purchase from Asian grocery stores, quite likely alongside the ginger. Slice any leftover galangal and freeze. Substitute with lemongrass but it will mean it will have less of that citrusy taste and fragrance.
 Refer to image of kaffir lime leaves below. Look for them along the vegetable aisle or in chiller/freezer sections of Asian grocery stores.
  Refer to image below.  Tumeric plants have forearm-length blades of leaves. It has a subtle herbal fragrance which I can’t accurately describe. If you don’t have access to it, omit entirely and do not try and substitute with tumeric root.  Although, they are from the same plant, they taste entirely different. Tumeric leaves can be hard to come by. At Asian grocery stores, they might be found in the chiller/freezer. Outside of South-east Asia, I rarely see them sold as fresh leaves.
 You could use chicken stock to replace water and chicken granules. However, wether you are using chicken stock or granules, use those that are made in South-east Asia for the most authentic taste for this dish. Ingredients within chicken stock/granules/cubes can vary considerably. For instance, you don’t want to use one that contains ingredients such as celery, onions, carrots, etc. It will make the final dish taste very different.
Refer to image below. Tamarind is also referred to as ‘Assam’. It’s a sour fruit and partially processed either into a pulpy paste (some of the fibre and seeds are removed) or the fruit might be sliced and then dried.  
If processed into a pulpy paste, it is sold compressed into a flat rectangle block or bottled in glass or plastic containers. It would be displayed on supermarket shelves. You should find it easily at Asian grocery stores. The dried slices are usually available only in Asian grocery stores.  You can use either the paste or the dried sliced tamarind. No sugar is ever added to them. So read the label if in doubt. If using, tamarind paste, use ~1/2 teaspoon to 2 – 3 Tablespoons water. If using dried sliced tamarind, one small slice is sufficient. Don’t know what to do with the rest of the tamarind paste? I have a recipe for a Vietnamese Tamarind drink that is served with a spoonful of roasted peanuts. If you like a sour-sweet kind of drink, this drink is for you! Tamarind Drink With A Spoonful Of Roasted Peanuts. Scroll down to ‘Tips’ for image.






Prep the tamarind water
1. If using the tamarind pulp, measure out the ~1/2 teaspoon tamarind pulp and stir it into the ~2 – 3 Tablespoons water. Set it aside for 5 – 10 minutes to let the pulp loosen up in the water.
2. Return to it and to help things along, with your fingertips, squeeze the pulp to blend well into the water. You will find that that as you squeeze the pulp, the membrane covering the seeds will slip right off.  You only need the tamarind water so strain off through a sieve and set the tamarind water aside.
3. If using the dried tamarind slice, all you need to do is to rinse briefly under running water.

Prep the vegetables and stock
1. Bean sprouts: Break off the roots of the bean sprout and discard. Do not rinse until you are just about ready to stir fry as once it touches water, it will start to brown.
2. Onion: Slice into 1/8″ (0.3cm) slices.
3. Spring onions: Slice into 2″ (5cm) lengths and separate the white part from the green part.
4. Lemongrass: If you are substituting galangal for lemongrass, use only the bottom 4″ (10cm) of the lemongrass. Smash it with the base of the frying pan you will be using. I think it’s quite dangerous smashing it with the blade of any knife.
5. Red/green chilli: Slice the chilli at an angle into 1/2″ (1.25cm) slices. Refer to image.
6. Tofu: Slice tofu into 1.5″X1″X0.5″ (4cmX1.25cmX2.5cm). Refer to image. Not too small as you don’t want the tofu to break apart.
7. Stock: Into the 1 cup water, add 1/2 teaspoon chicken granules and only 2 teaspoon fish sauce (reserve the remaining 1 teaspoon you may or may not need it).

 Let’s fry
1. This stir fry takes less than 5 minutes, so it helps if you have the remaining ingredients ready and close by the stove.
2. Remember to rinse the bean sprouts and drain of water, just before the stir fry.
3. Heat up a frying pan on medium-high heat with the 2 and 1/2 Tablespoons of oil.
4. Stir in the sliced onions for ~1 – 2 minutes or until they are slightly soften.
5. Toss in the white part of the spring onions, the galangal or lemongrass and stir in briefly for 5 seconds. If you are using a dried tamarind slice instead of the tamarind paste, add that in with the spring onions and galangal/lemongrass.
6. Add the bean sprouts, stir for 5 seconds.
7. Add the prepared stock and sliced tofu. Stir to mix and let it come to a simmer. Takes less than 1 minute.
8. Once you see simmering, mix in frozen vegetables, slice chillies and only 1/2 the amount of tamarind water (you may or may not need the rest) or if using lime juice add ~ 1 and 1/2 Tablespoons to start of with.
9. Once it comes back to a simmer, remove the main vein of the kaffir lime leaves and tumeric leaf and toss into the frying pan. At the same time, add the 3 Tablespoons coconut milk/cream. Stir to mix. It doesn’t have to come back to a boil. Too much heat and the leaves will loose its fragrance. Turn off the burner and remove frying pan from the burner.
10. Taste and adjust seasoning. More tamarind/lime juice? Fish sauce? Chicken granules?
11. Once, you are happy with the seasoning, transfer to your serving platter but do remove all the leaves, the galangal/lemongrass and the tamarind slice (if you had used it) as they are not edible.

To serve
1. Serve with white rice and some of my Chilli Sambal as the fiery sambal goes very well with this rather clean tasting dish.


Leftover tamarind paste?
I love this drink and always order it from a Vietnamese eatery that I patronise. Make this sweet-sour Tamarind Drink that is served with a spoonful of peanuts. It goes especially well with spicy hot meals or have it on days when the sun is blazing hot. Refreshing!

tamarind drink