If you're not at Max's Restaurant for the classic fried chicken with kamote fries, maybe you're there for their second best menu item: tofu sisig.
Served on a sizzling cast-iron plate, it's everything you love about sisig—the dish Anthony Bourdain called the gateway to Filipino food—sans the pork. But the tofu, sliced into cubes and deep-fried to a crisp, will leave even the staunchest meat-eater satisfied.
Replicating Max's tofu sisig at home is easy, all thanks to liquid seasoning. It provides that familiar umami flavor that makes this copycat a dead ringer for the real thing.
Tips for Cooking With Tofu
Blanch tofu for a fresher flavor
Some brands of tofu have a slightly sour taste that remains even after cooking. Blanching tofu in hot salted water brings out a fresher flavor while coaxing the tofu's inner moisture to the surface, making it easier to dry.
Either pour the hot salted water over the tofu, or dunk the tofu into a simmering (not boiling) pot of salted water. Pat it dry, and your tofu's ready to use. Sounds counterintuitive, but it works!
For a meatier bite, freeze your tofu
Freezing tofu changes its tender texture to something chewier and meat-like. When thawed, the ice crystals inside the tofu leave sponge-like holes, creating a bouncy mouthfeel. It's a trick we use in our popular tofu katsudon recipe.
To freeze, you can keep your tofu whole or cut up into smaller portions. Keep the tofu in its packaging or, if using cut-up portions, transfer to freezer-safe containers or zip-lock bags. Freeze until solid and more yellowish in color, then defrost either overnight in the fridge or at room temperature on an aluminum tray. Don't forget to (gently) press out that extra moisture before frying.
- 750g firm tofu, either blanched or frozen and thawed
- 1 cup neutral oil
- 4 tbsp oyster sauce
- 4 tbsp mayonnaise
- 3 tbsp water
- 2 tbsp liquid seasoning
- 1 red chili, chopped
- 2 tbsp oil
- 2 cloves garlic
- ½ cup chopped white onion
- ½ cup chopped red bell pepper
- calamansi halves
- chopped red chilies
- minced spring onions, green part only
Prepare tofu: Use paper towels to blot off excess moisture from the tofu. Once dry to the touch, slice tofu into 1-inch cubes.
Shallow-fry tofu: Heat oil in a wok or deep pan over medium-high heat. Once oil is at 350°F, add diced tofu in batches and shallow-fry until crisp and golden. Transfer tofu to a metal rack or paper towel-lined plate. Season with a bit of salt while warm. Set aside.
Make sisig sauce: Combine oyster sauce, mayonnaise, water, liquid seasoning, and chopped red chili in a small mixing bowl. Stir until combined. Set aside.
Make sisig base: Remove oil from fried tofu and wipe the wok or pan clean. Add 2 tbsp oil and heat over medium. Once oil is hot, add garlic, onion, and bell pepper. Cook, stirring constantly, until onions are translucent, 5 minutes. Add sisig sauce mixture and stir until ingredients are coated and sauce has thickened, 2–3 minutes.
Add tofu and serve: Add fried tofu to the pan. Toss mixture until each piece is evenly coated with sauce. Transfer to a prepared sizzling plate or serving dish. Garnish with calamansi halves, chopped chilies, and minced green onions. Serve hot with steamed rice.