I'm biased as I love them so, but I think the perfect texture to complement the tofu was soft, melting aubergines. Fried first and then braised, these silky beauties also absorb all the flavour in the dish. I was only gutted that I'd only made one portion. It's important to balance the sweet, hot, sour and salty so taste, taste and taste until you get what you think is right.
Hot & Sour Tofu with Aubergines
Half a block of fresh tofu
1 medium aubergine
3 cloves of garlic, minced
2" ginger, chopped finely
2 red birds eye chillis, deseeded and chopped finely
1 large handful of Thai holy basil leaves chopped finely
A few sprigs of coriander, roughly chopped
Fish sauce to taste (or soy if you're vegan or vegetarian)
Palm sugar to taste
1 spring onion, sliced diagonally
50 mls of water
Slice the tofu into thick rectangles and leave to drain on kitchen paper. On a plate, shake out some cornflour to coat the tofu with. Heat about 1cm of oil in a non-stick frying pan. Coat the tofu in the cornflour and place immediately in the hot oil and fry carefully until golden brown. Leave to drain on a fresh piece of kitchen towel. Meanwhile, slice the aubergine to the thickness of a pound coin and fry in a little oil until, again, browned on both sides.
In a wok, heat some oil and add the ginger, garlic and chillis to the oil. Open every single window in a 10 mile radius unless you want napalm in your lungs. Add the aubergines and half of the holy basil, as well as the water. Bring to the simmer and add the tofu. Season with fish sauce and palm sugar (I started off with 1 tbsp of each) and the rest of the holy basil and cook until the sauce has been absorbed and has thickened slightly. Take off the heat, taste and add more fish sauce or sugar as appropriate, as well as a hefty squeeze of lime. Garnish with the chopped spring onion and coriander and serve with rice.
If your palm sugar comes in a big block as mine does, I've found the best way to use it is to grate it on the coarse bit.