What does it say about Alex and I that when we were looking through our fridge and the only things we had to make were eggs and tofu my first thought was to make a tofu omelet. I knew that The Asian Grandmother's Cookbook had a recipe for a tofu omelet and I was pretty sure that we had everything we needed. Alex kind of laughed about it - of course this was the recipe we came up with after scrounging around in our fridge for a little while with no idea what to make for dinner. In his opinion most normal people would make spaghetti or chicken parmesan after scrounging around in their fridges, but we made a recipe with esoteric ingredients like shrimp paste, Indonesian sweet soy (ketjap manis) and tofu. Most people would have to plan ahead and search for ingredients like those. We just have them. I said it was a little scary that the second he started talking about eggs and tofu I knew exactly what cookbook had a recipe for a tofu omelet, but otherwise I didn't think it was that weird. In the spirit of full disclosure I must admit that I spend a lot of time pouring over our cookbooks while sitting on the couch. I find that flipping through cookbooks while meal planning inspires all sorts of fun ideas. And I like fun ideas.
This recipe isn't for just anyone. I know that I talked about the intensely shrimpy and funky nature of shrimp paste when we cooked Water Spinach with Shrimp Paste and Chilis (Kangkung Belacan). The recipe actually called for black shrimp paste, which is different from the belacan dried shrimp paste that we used for the water spinach. But we figured that we could use a little of the belacan (less than the recipe called for since black shrimp paste has sugar and water and isn't quite as pungent) and add a little sugar to the sauce to make up for the substitution. The sauce has a ton of components - fried garlic, chilis, lime juice, Indonesian sweet soy (ketjap manis), peanut butter and water - but less than a teaspoon of shrimp paste still provides it with a distinct funk. I liked the funk. I thought it was an acceptable level of funk, but if you're not into funk then leave the shrimp paste out entirely. The omelet is really hearty and filling, but if you think about it the omelet has 5 eggs and just under a pound of tofu in it. Of course it's filling. I was worried that we wouldn't have enough to eat, but I couldn't even finish my half. Granted, I threw on a few handfuls of pea shoots that I picked up at the farmer's market on Sunday. The recipe called for celery leaves or cucumber as a garnish, but I wanted to use up my beautiful pea shoots instead. It was definitely an interesting meal. I enjoyed it. I don't think it will be a crowd-pleaser because of the moderately high funk factor and somewhat lame description (a tofu omelet sounds about as exciting as a study in beige), but I'm glad we made it.
Recipe after the jump!
Tofu Omelet with Sweet Peanut Sauce (Tahu Telur)
Adapted from The Asian Grandmother's Cookbook: Home Cooking from Asian American Kitchens
By Patricia Tanumihardja
2 tbsp vegetable oil
2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
2 tsp smooth peanut butter
1/2 tsp dried shrimp paste (optional and if you have black shrimp paste use 1 tsp of that if you want)
1/4 tsp sugar (only necessary if you use the dried shrimp paste)
3 tbsp hot water
3 tbsp ketjap manis (Indonesian sweet soy)
2 tsp lime juice
1 serrano chili (or to taste), minced
pinch of salt
14 oz. firm tofu, drained and cut into 2x2x1/2 inch slices
1 tbsp vegetable oil
2 cups pea shoots, for garnish (you can also use chopped celery leaves or shredded cucumber like the recipe)
In a large nonstick skillet, heat 2 tbsp oil over medium-high heat. Once the oil is hot, add the garlic and cook, stirring constantly, until golden-brown and crispy, about 1 minute. Be very careful with your garlic because it can go from golden to burnt in a split second. Remove garlic with a slotted spoon and once it is cool enough to handle, crush it. Leave the oil in the pan because you will use it to cook the omelet.
Combine peanut butter, shrimp paste, sugar and hot water in a small bowl. Mix into a smooth paste. When well-blended, add the garlic, soy, lime juice, and chili. Mix thoroughly.
Beat eggs with salt in a medium bowl. Gently fold in tofu, trying not to break it up. Return the skillet to moderately high heat. Add remaining 1 tbsp oil. Once the oil is hot, gently pour in the egg and tofu mixture. Spread the tofu out as evenly as possible. Cook omelet until the underside is golden-brown and the edges are starting to crisp up,a bout 5-6 minutes. Flip the omelet (we slid it gently out onto a large plate and then flipped it over into the skillet). Cook until the bottom is golden-brown and the eggs are cooked through, about 2-3 minutes.