Much A Do About Tofu

I ‘borrow’ the title of this post from an article which I read sometimes ago somewhere in a magazine or newspaper but unfortunately I forgot where exactly I read it. I use this title because firstly, it reminds me of the title of one of Shakespeare’s plays ‘Much A Do About Nothing’. Secondly, I agree with this title, yes there is much a do about tofu.

One of famous Indonesian dishes made of tofu is ‘Tahu Gejrot’. It is known as one of the native dishes from Cirebon pronounced “Cheerebon”. The city is in the North Coast of Java Island, close to the border of West Java and Central Java. Because of this, Cirebonese have their own dialects, bearing elements of Sundanese and Javanese.

A few months ago, I and my colleagues got the opportunity to visit Cirebon for a business trip. One of the good things about business trip to other cities and other countries is the opportunity to taste the famous local foods. Cirebon is well known for its local foods, such as nasi lengko (rice mixed with bean sprouts, fried tofu and fermented soybean cake or tempeh), nasi jamblang (rice of various side dishes), empal gentong (a kind of curry), tahu gejrot (fried tofu with sweet sour topping), tahu tek-tek (fried tofu topped with peanut sauce and mixed with vegetables) and many more. So we made plan that we had to find the time in between our busy works to taste different Cirebon dishes.

When we arrived in Cirebon on the first day, it was just the right time for lunch. We chose to try empal gentong for our lunch. Everything went well.

empal gentong

For dinner, we went to an eating place famous for its sea food. Not as good as we expected but everything went well.

The next day, early in the morning we left the hotel and went to the best place of nasi jamblang for our breakfast and we ate to our hearts’ content. With full stomach and happy heart we worked hard that day.

nasi jamblang

We had to finish all the work before the end of the day so it meant we had no time to go out for lunch. And now, what? we still wanted to try the famous tahu gejrot (literally means smashed tofu). So we asked the favor of the local people who helped us with the work to buy and bring it to our place. Finally, we had our ‘Smashed Tofu’ which we ate while we were finishing our work. Everything went well until one or so hour later. I started to feel something wrong with my stomach so I went back and forth to the toilet. Around 30 minutes later, one of my colleagues also experienced the same thing then followed by another and another. Ooooops, it seemed that we all got food poisoning from the tahu gejrot (note: it could be that they bought it from the street hawker- the tofu could get contaminated by germs from the dirt etc).

tukang tahu gejrot baru

Back in Jakarta, I decided to cook Tahu Gejrot. I Google the recipe and found from the one posted by Indonesian Exotic Recipes. I tried it out and the following is my adaptation of the recipe. And I name my version of Tahu Gejrot as Spicy Smashed Tofu


10 pieces of small Tofu (use the hard tofu or tahu pong for Indonesia)
Vegetable oil to fry the tofu
10 shallots, thinly sliced and fried until golden brown

Ingredients for the sauce
5 bird’s eye chilies, chopped
3 shallots, chopped
3 cloves of garlic, chopped
2- 3 tablespoons of tamarind paste
25 gram palm sugar, shaved
Pinch of salt
100 ml water

To prepare the Tofu:

  • Heat the oil in a saucepan on medium heat
    Deep fry the tofu in the oil until golden on both sides and set aside

To prepare the sauce:

  • Finely pound the chilies, shallots, garlic and salt in a mortar and pestle.
  • Put the mix into a small bowl
  • Add the tamarind juice, palm sugar and water.
  • Stir until mixed well.
  • Put the sauce mix in a clean saucepan.
  • Bring to the boil and turn down heat.

Final touch:

  • Add the fried tofu in the sauce-mix
  • Cut or smash the tofu to let the sauce penetrate the fried tofu.
  • Serve the smashed tofu on a serving plate and garnish with fried shallots.

My family love my home-made Spicy Smashed Tofu and this one is cooked with love and certainly free from germs.


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