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Looking for Thai restaurant tofu.
April 17, 2010 4:34 PM   Subscribe

What is the red/pink tofu in restaurant pad thai?

Most Thai restaurants I've been to have a kind of reddish, pinkish tofu cut into small pieces in their pad thai. The tofu seems firmer than the typical water-packed tofu I see in stores. What is that kind of tofu, and how do I make it or buy it? I have access to a fairly large Asian market, but I don't know what I'm looking for.
posted by hilaritas to Food & Drink (12 answers total)
 
I could be way off but isn't it just tofu that has been dyed by the fish sauce in the Pad Thai?
posted by gillianr at 4:46 PM on April 17, 2010


Toku Kan - pressed, marinated and baked tofu.
posted by skwm at 4:54 PM on April 17, 2010


Err, Tofu Kan.
posted by skwm at 4:55 PM on April 17, 2010


Asian markets sell fried tofu. The brand I usually see here (a local brand) comes in small trianges that you can just throw in a dish and it's just called Fried Tofu. I had pad thai last night and the tofu was closest to this. Baked, marinated tofu will also work, but that's not what's in the pad thai I've had, although it might be common in other cites. You can also cut up firm, water-packed tofu and bake it for 30 minutes or so, until it's chewy, which is what I do if I can't get by the Asian market.

The red color probably comes from chili powder in the sauce. I usually use a mix of paprika (not authentic, I know) and cayenne when I make pad thai at home. Fish sauce won't turn anything red - it will color things about the same as soy sauce.
posted by zinfandel at 6:20 PM on April 17, 2010


Pad thai is generally made with fried tofu. The pad thai I ate growing up at home and in Thailand was always lightly brownish colored and the fried tofu was generally golden-brownish on the outside and white on the inside.

However I've noticed some Thai restaurants in N. America make a version of pad thai covered in a really sweet bright red sauce. My guess is that the fried tofu ends up colored pink by the red sauce.
posted by pravit at 6:52 PM on April 17, 2010


I've also never heard of any pad thai being made with "tofu kan" although it wouldn't surprise me if it was a regional thing for some American Thai restaurants to use it.
posted by pravit at 6:53 PM on April 17, 2010


However I've noticed some Thai restaurants in N. America make a version of pad thai covered in a really sweet bright red sauce. My guess is that the fried tofu ends up colored pink by the red sauce.
posted by pravit at 9:52 PM on April 17 [+] [!]


According to my Thai cooking teacher, if the noodles are red/pink, the sauce is ketchup.

(If the noodles are brown, it's a tamarind based sauce).
posted by Comrade_robot at 7:18 PM on April 17, 2010


I've only seen deep fried tofu in Pad thai, its probably firm or extra firm. But when you say pink or red, it could possibly be Kamaboko, which isn't something a normal thai restaurant would use, but it has similar texture to tofu and is firm.
posted by wongcorgi at 11:56 PM on April 17, 2010


The stuff I'm talking about isn't the big pieces of fried tofu. It's usually little slivers, and one side is red and the other side is pink. It has its own color and is definitely not colored by (brown) fish sauce. I tried to find a picture online, but I'm not having any luck. I think Nongkran Daks used the kind of tofu I'm talking about in her pad thai on "Throwdown with Bobby Flay."
posted by hilaritas at 3:58 PM on April 18, 2010


I was going to suggest kamaboko too, though I've only seen it in white/bright pink.
posted by lhall at 5:46 PM on April 18, 2010


When I was in Thailand taking a cooking class, we went to a market to buy ingredients. There the tofu was sold in two styles, one with a red exterior (but still white inside) and the other was completely white. We were told that the difference is just food coloring to make it look prettier.
posted by vegetableagony at 9:34 AM on April 22, 2010


I meant to add that I haven't seen this in the tofu I've eaten here. I don't think the dye is the key part to trying to get the firmer texture you like.

Try asking at the Asian grocery if they have any "extra firm" tofu. They might be able to help.
posted by vegetableagony at 9:35 AM on April 22, 2010


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