This dish is a showstopper, and it couldn't be easier to make. Both sweet and aromatic, tofu is ideal as it absorbs the flavors beautifully. Serving it with fresh coriander, pickled bean sprouts and rice balances the dish and prevents it from being too sweet (which it might be if eaten on its own).
Slow Cooker Vietnamese Caramel Tofu and Carrots [Vegan]
- 14 ounces tofu, drained, pressed and cut into large cubes
- 1 white onion, sliced
- Scant 1 cup Chantenay carrots, cut into halves lengthways (otherwise just use plain carrots)
- Scant 1 cup fine green beans
- 1 lemongrass stalk, bruised and cut in half
- Fresh coriander to serve
- Scant 3/4 cup light muscovado sugar
- 2 tablespoons water
- 1 teaspoon dark soy sauce (for gluten-free variation, use tamari)
- Juice of 1 lime
- Handful fresh bean sprouts
- 1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
- Chili flakes
- First, create the caramel sauce. Heat the sugar and water over a medium heat – for best results use a stainless steel pan so you can gauge the color better. Stir well until the sugar has fully dissolved.
- Turn the heat up high, without stirring, so the sugar boils and turns a golden brown color without burning. Remove from the heat and add the soy sauce and lime juice – do this immediately as it halts the cooking process.
- Put all of the ingredients into the slow cooker and pour over the caramel sauce. Cook on low for eight hours. If possible, stir halfway. Once it is cooked, transfer to the hob and cook on a high heat for a few minutes to allow the sauce to thicken. Remove the lemongrass. Sprinkle with fresh coriander leaves, top with a scoop of pickled bean sprouts, and serve with rice.
- For the pickled bean sprouts, simply coat them in the vinegar and chili flakes and leave to stand for around twenty minutes for the vinegar to absorb. Drain and they are ready to use.
It’s essential to press the tofu before using it in this dish. To do so, simply drain the block, wrap well with kitchen roll, and place a heavy cookbook or pan on top. Leave this for at least ten minutes but ideally around an hour. Unwrap and it’s ready to use. By removing more of the liquid, this makes the tofu firmer so it will keep its shape in the slow cooker.