Spiced tofu with aubergine and oriental tomato sauce

Vegan dishes have really come into their own over the last couple of years. Sean Gravina makes a tofu and aubergine dish with Chinese spices and a tomato sauce that will have meat eaters and vegans alike salivating. 

Spiced tofu with aubergine and oriental tomato sauce

Serves 4


Steamed aubergines

  • 2 large aubergine (1kg), cut in half lengthways, then width ways, then each section cut into 3 cm wide wedges
  • 1 ½ tsp sunflower
  • 1 tbsp sesame oil
  • 5cm piece of ginger, peeled and finely grated (40g)
  • 5 garlic cloves, finely sliced
  • 100ml light soy sauce
  • 60ml
  • Shaoxing rice wine
  • 80ml rice vinegar
  • 50ml mirin
  • 1 tsp caster sugar

Oriental Passata

  • 1 tbsp sunflower oil
  • 3 shallots, peeled and finely diced
  • 4 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 4cm piece of ginger, peeled and finely grated
  • 2 stick of lemongrass, tough out leaves and stalks removed and discarded, finely chopped
  • 2 red chillies, deseeded and finely chopped
  • 2 tsp cardamom
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • 600g tomato passata  or pelati
  • 1 tbsp caster sugar


  • 60g plain flour
  • 60g cornflour
  • 1 ½ tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 ½ tsp ground white pepper
  • 1 tbsp Chinese five spice
  • 400g firm tofu, cut into 2 ½ cm squares
  • Sunflower oil for frying

To serve

  • Black sesame seeds
  • 2 small spring onions, finely sliced


  1. Place the aubergine in a colander with 1 teaspoon of salt and leave to drain for 1 hour.
  2. Shake and dry well and steam for 10 – 15 mins. 
  3. Place a saucepan on a medium low heat and add the oil, together with the sesame oil. 
  4. Add the garlic and ginger and sauté for 1-2 mins. 
  5. Add the soy sauce, shaoxing rice wine, rice vinegar, mirin, sugar and 100ml of water.  
  6. Bring to the boil then simmer for 10 – 12 mins, until the liquid has reduced by half. Stir in the aubergines, together with some salt, and simmer for 8-10 minutes, until sauce is shiny and the aubergine is glazed and just about to fall apart. Set aside and keep warm.
  7. Place the oil for the passata in a medium saucepan, which has a lid and place on a low heat.
  8. Add the shallots, garlic, ginger and sauté for 2-3 mins, until soft and fragrant.
  9. Add the lemongrass and chili, cook for 2-3 mins.
  10. Stir in the cardamom, tomato paste and cook for another 2 mins.
  11. Pour in the passata, stir well and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer, covered, for about 12 mins, until the sauce is thick.
  12. Add the sugar, along with some seasoning and cook for a final 2-3 mins.
  13. Remove from the heat and set aside.      
  14. Season the flour with salt and both peppers, add the corn flour and the five spice. Mix well, then, just before serving add the tofu and toss well until all coated.
  15. Pour enough oil in the pan so the tofu is submerged.
  16. Place on high heat and when hot add the tofu. Fry for 2-3 mins until golden-brown.
  17. Use a slotted spoon to remove the tofu to a kitchen pepper-lined colander, sprinkle lightly with salt and continue with the remaining batch.
  18. To serve, spoon the aubergine into the base of a shallow bowl or plate.
  19. Plate the tofu on top, followed by the passata and sprinkle over the sesame seeds and spring onions.

This recipe first appeared on Gourmet Today TV, aired on TVM on 24 July, 2016. 

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