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Chilli oil tofu (FODMAP friendly, vegan)

This chilli oil tofu is a product of my newfound love for these chilli oil noodles. First, I made those noodles. Next, I made the sauce with some tofu noodles that I found at KFL supermarket in Springvale. Which brings us to this chilli oil tofu recipe (which is a similar to this sweet and sticky ginger tofu recipe). 

I had some crispy tofu I needed to use imminently, so I figured this sauce might jazz it up. Correct! So easy with such a high flavour payoff – this is the sauce I’lll have in my weeknight rotation moving forward. It’s FODMAP friendly, gluten/grain free and absolutely delicious. It can also be made sesame and nut free with ease, which I will go into below.

An aerial view of a white bowl of FODMAP friendly chilli oil noodles. The noodles are casually strewn about in the bowl, and topped with cucumber batons, spring onion greens and sesame seeds. The bowl sits atop a dark grey steel backdrop, which contrasts with the white bowl and vibrant chilli red tinted hue of the noodles

FODMAP NOTES AND SUBSTITUTION OPTIONS

Interestingly, Korean chilli flakes have a higher FODMAP content than regular chilli flakes. 2 teaspoons contain moderate amounts of fructose. If you have no issues with chilli, go ahead and use 2 teaspoons of Korean chilli flakes. If not, I have some suggestions below on how to cater these FODMAP-friendly chilli oil noodles to every chilli preference. 

100g of firm tofu per serve is deemed a green light portion by Monash. Personally, I find I can handle a little more, but that’s just me. For 100g portion, divide the tofu into 4.5/5 serves. 

An aerial close up view of a bowl of chilli oil tofu, Asian greens and rice against a rust coloured linen tea towel backdrop. The bowl is a beige ceramic speckled one and the meal is casually arranged inside. A fork sits in the top left of the bowl and extends up beyond the top of the image

ON CHILLI 

  • I use and love Korean chilli flakes. They are milder than regular flakes, fruitier, and have a lovely bright red colour, even after adding the sizzling oil. I bought a big packet (1kg) when I was at an Asian grocer and they have lasted me over a year, with plenty left. I daresay you could also buy them online. 
  • Interestingly, Korean chilli flakes have a higher FODMAP content than regular chilli flakes. 2 teaspoons contain moderate amounts of fructose. If you have no issues with chilli/fructose, go ahead and use 2 teaspoons of Korean chilli flakes. If not, I have some suggestions below on how to cater these FODMAP-friendly chilli oil noodles to every chilli preference. 
  • Firstly, you can use regular chilli flakes. They are hotter than Korean chilli flakes, so you will need to add according to your taste. You can finish with some paprika for colour if you like – chilli flakes tend to make a muddier brown oil when compared to Korean chilli flakes.
  • Secondly, you can add 1 teaspoon Korean chilli flakes and a good extra grating of fresh ginger. I love adding ginger to these noodles because I think it adds a dimension that is missing without garlic. Raw ginger also adds a bit of heat, which will help balance out the lack thereof.
  • Another ingredient I like to add is pepper, whether that is Sichuan or regular. Sichuan has a numbing, spicy quality that is really delicious and unique. If you don’t have Sichuan, regular cracked pepper is great too. 

An aerial close up view of a plate of chilli oil tofu, Asian greens and rice that have been mixed together and look casually plated. The meal is served in a dark grey ceramic bowl and sits against a mottled dark silver metal backdrop

INGREDIENT NOTES

Black rice vinegar has a sweet, almost watered down balsamic vinegar taste without as strong of an acidic tang. It’s a lovely ingredient here and lends just a bit of acid without being overbearing. You can use white rice vinegar if you don’t have it, but I recommend adding 1/2 teaspoon at first and building up if you like it more acidic.

For colour, I highly recommend using dark soy sauce. In Australia, Ayam brand makes gluten free dark soy sauce. You also also use Tamari, but your noodles might have a different colour. 

Interestingly, their website suggests that dark soy is less salty than regular soy. I was under the impression it was saltier! But a quick Google tells me I have been living a lie. So, if you plan to use Tamari instead of dark soy sauce, use less than the recipe specifies. 

An aerial close up view of two bowls of chilli oil tofu, Asian greens and rice mixed together. The bowls are dark blue ceramic and the background is dark mottled grey. A glass of water sits to the top right of the image, one bowl sits in the centre of the image, and the other sits in top right hand sideRECIPE TIPS FOR YOUR CHILLI OIL TOFU

The aim of the sauce is to have the oil hot enough that is sizzles on impact and melds the flavours. I find there is less risk of burning the chilli flakes here than when making chilli oil. Because there are other ingredients in the bowl (like spring onion greens) it lessens the burny impact. That said, the oil really only needs a minute or two to get screaming hot (particularly on a gas stove). I recommend using a frypan to cook the oil, because you will return the sauce to the frypan at the end. This makes it a one pan tofu. 

Regular chilli flakes will create a muddier coloured sauce than Korean chilli flakes. The colour won’t affect the flavour too much, but they’re spicier so make sure you add them to taste.

I love ginger, a lot. In the absence of onion and garlic, I think it really delivers on flavour. I add a lot of ginger to this dish – in the sauce, raw over the tofu and raw into the rice. I personally don’t think it’s overpowering, and I got the stamp of approval from my ginger apathetic sister. Add to taste if you’re not into ginger, though. 

An aerial close up view of a bowl of chilli oil tofu on a bed of asian greens and white rice. The bowl is casually assembled, with greens to the right, tofu in the centre and rice on the left. The bowl is white and sits atop a medium blue metal background

WHAT TO SERVE WITH YOUR CHILLI OIL TOFU?

MORE DELICIOUS FODMAP FRIENDLY TOFU RECIPES

An aerial close up view of two bowls of chilli oil tofu, Asian greens and rice mixed together. The bowls are dark blue ceramic and the background is dark mottled grey. A glass of water sits to the top right of the image, one bowl sits in the centre of the image, and the other sits in top right hand side

Chilli oil tofu

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Servings 5 people

Ingredients
  

For the chilli oil tofu:

  • 450-500 g firm tofu cut into small bite sized cubes
  • 3 teaspoons Korean chilli flakes see notes
  • 3 teaspoons sesame seeds
  • 1/3 - 1/2 bunch spring onion greens chopped
  • 1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger
  • Freshly cracked pepper Sichuan, regular or white
  • 4 tablespoons vegetable or peanut oil
  • 2-3 tablespoons gluten free dark soy sauce (use less for Tamari)
  • 1 tablespoon black rice vinegar or white rice vinegar to taste
  • 2-3 teaspoons maple syrup or honey
  • salt to taste (add salt only if necessary)
  • 2 teaspoons natural peanut butter natural (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon cornflour or potato starch (optional)

To serve (for 5-6 people, optional)

  • 1 1/2 cups white rice cooked
  • Lightly cooked greens I use the remaining spring onion greens, 1-2 bunches Pak or Bok choi, 1 bunch broccolini, 250g green beans, small handful of edamame seasoned and finished with toasted sesame oil

Instructions
 

  • Place the chilli flakes, ginger, spring onion greens and pepper in a heatproof bowl. Stir them up, then arrange them into a small pile (this makes it easier for the small quantity of oil to interact with all the ingredients).
  • In a medium frypan over a medium heat, heat the oil until it’s really hot and shimmering, about 2 minutes on a gas stove. Carefully pour this hot oil over the chilli mixture. It should sizzle up and make the oil lovely and fragrant. If you’re using Korean chilli flakes, it should also take on a lovely red colour.
  • Add the dark soy sauce, honey or maple and black rice vinegar. Stir to combine, then taste and adjust to your liking.
  • If you’re using it, add the peanut butter or tahini and stir to combine.
  • Add the corn starch and mix to combine, then add the tofu cubes and stir to coat.
  • Return the tofu and all the sauce to the pan and cook for 2-3 minutes or until the tofu is heated through and the sauce thickened. Add a splash of water if the sauce gets too thick at any point. Plate up and serve.
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