Tahu goreng (in Indonesia) and Tauhu goreng (in Singapore and Malaysia) is a dish whose main base is fried tofu is a Southeast Asian delight. It is commonly found across Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia. Tahu means tofu in Malay, and goreng means fried in Indonesian and Malay languages. It is typically a lunchtime dish however such typicality never stops people from eating it at other times of day.
You may think, because it’s main base is tofu, that tahu goreng is a vegetarian dish, however, one of the main flavouring ingredients in the sauce is shrimp paste and, although it may not have a recognizable fishy (or shrimpy) flavour, this is definitely not a vegetarian product. So before you put tahu goreng (or any other foods you may want to offer as a vegetarian option) on your menu for your event ensure that you check with your Singapore catering service so that everyone’s needs are met and no one gets surprised.
Where is it from?
Tahu goreng is a particularly hard dish to pin down, as tofu and fried tofu are popular foods in many Asian countries and cultures. Tofu itself originated in China and was brought to the region by Chinese migrants. It is said to be similar to a Japanese dish called agedashi tofu, however this dish uses less ingredients. A dish it can be more likened to is one called mie goreng (fried noodles) and this dish has its roots in Chinese chow mein. Mie goreng has a very similar ingredient list to tahu goreng, except the noodles, however it is often flavoured and served with a much more diverse range of meats.
What is it?
Although it is called fried tofu, and this indeed constitutes most of the dish, there are a lot more flavours added to this dish to make it complete; and we suspect it is this combination of flavours that makes this dish popular today. The tofu, usually in thick chunks, is deep fried until it turns a gold brown. It is then garnished with bean sprouts, cucumber and a scallion, usually strips of shallots then served with a thick sauce (this is the part that is very similar to mie goreng) that is made from: chili peppers, garlic, shallots, shrimp paste, soy sauce and tamarind juice. Most times, roasted peanuts that are crushed finely are added to the sauce, making it similar to satay sauce.
Can the recipe be changed?
It sure can! Remember that tahu goreng means “fried tofu” and therefore there are many variations that this dish can take on. It can be served as part of a stir fry, in a broth or soup or just with plain rice. There are many other variations of this dish available so don’t be afraid to do some research and make a request to your local catering service for the variation you like to have (chance are they’ll offer them all if they are any good).
Now we’ve cleared up the non-vegetarian aspect of this dish you may be more comfortable having it at your event. As a bit of a Singaporean staple, this dish can be modified in many different ways to suit different tastes and styles. If you’re struggling for vegetarian options for your menu, ask your Singapore catering service whether they can include an all-vegetarian ingredients only in tahu goreng to give your vegetarian guests something new and refreshing for their palete!