Craving Indonesian tahu gejrot? Learn how to make these tiny bite-sized golden brown fried tofu, doused with sweet and spicy chili soy sauce at home with my recipe.
Street food is a common sight in Indonesian life, and though it may sound unusual to non-Indonesians, we have quite a variety of tofu-based street food snacks or light meals.
One of our popular tofu street food is tahu gejrot Cirebon, fried tofu cut into small cubes and doused with a spicy chili soy sauce. Cirebon is a port city on the northern coast of West Java bordering the province of Central Java. Other famous dishes from this city that includes empal gentong, mi koclok, nasi lengko, tahu petis, and docang.
With my recipe, you can now replicate this dish in your home even when you are not living in Indonesia. This dish also happens to be gluten-free and vegan-friendly, so I love serving it to my non-Indonesian friends.
Ingredients for tahu gejrot
1. Fried tofu
In Indonesia, fried tofu is just as commonly sold as raw tofu. We have several common varieties of fried tofu that are suitable for tahu gejrot, such as tahu pong, tahu Sumedang, or even the most generic fried tofu.
In the United States, you may find fried tofu cubes in your Asian market. You can also use Japanese tofu pouch (abura age) if you can find them. You may want to rinse store-bought fried tofu with boiling water to remove excess oil before using it.
For most people, getting a block of firm or extra-firm tofu and frying the tofu at home would be the most approachable method.
2. Chili soy sauce
We will need shallot, garlic, green chilies, kecap manis (Indonesian sweet soy sauce), coconut palm sugar, salt, cane sugar vinegar, and water.
You can use as many chilies as you like, and you can use any variety of chili. Most Indonesians will stick to bird-eye chilies, or perhaps a combination of bird-eye chilies and cayenne chilies. You can also use serranos, jalapenos or Fresno for a milder sauce.
Prepare fried tofu cubes
1. From a block of firm/extra-firm tofu
Drain tofu and pat dry with a kitchen towel/paper towel. Cut into eight pieces and fry with a little oil in a non-stick frying pan or a well-seasoned cast-iron pan until golden brown.
2. From store-bought fried tofu
Store-bought tofu can be very oily, so I always place the tofu in a large mixing bowl and cover with boiling water. Drain the tofu after 5 minutes.
Prepare chili sauce
In a small saucepan, bring water, sweet soy sauce, coconut palm sugar, salt, vinegar, chilies, shallot, and garlic to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes.
Serving tahu gejrot
Cut each piece of tofu into 4 pieces so you get a total of 32 small fried tofu cubes. Divide the tofu cubes into 4 serving bowls. Pour the sauce on top of the tofu and serve immediately.
Originally published on Feb 25, 2014. Updated on Oct 21, 2020 with new photos.
Tahu Gejrot Cirebon - Fried Tofu in Chili Soy Sauce
- 1 block (450 gram / 1 lb) firm/extra-firm tofu (Note 1)
- 200 ml (4/5 cup) water
- 50 ml (3 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon) sweet soy sauce (Indonesian: kecap manis)
- 25 gram (0.9 oz) coconut palm sugar (Indonesian: gula Jawa)
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 tablespoon cane sugar vinegar/rice vinegar (Note 2)
- 2-5 bird-eye chilies, or 1-3 cayenne/serrano/jalapeno, thinly sliced
- 50 gram (1.8 oz) shallot, minced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- Fry tofu: Drain tofu and pat dry with a kitchen towel/paper towel. Cut into 8 pieces and fry with a little oil in a non-stick frying pan or a well-seasoned cast-iron pan until golden brown.
- Arrange tofu: Cut each piece of tofu into 4 pieces so you get a total of 32 small fried tofu cubes. Divide the tofu cubes into 4 serving bowls.
- Cook sauce: In a small saucepan, bring water, sweet soy sauce, coconut palm sugar, salt, vinegar, chilies, shallot, and garlic to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes.
- Serve: Pour the sauce on top of the tofu and serve immediately.
- (1) Alternatively, you can use 10-12 deep-fried tofu cubes (Indonesian: tahu goreng, pong, or sumedang). Place fried tofu in a large mixing bowl, cover with boiling water and drain after 5 minutes.
- (2) Alternatively, use 25 grams tamarind and mix with 1/4 warm water, then massaged and strained before using it.