Friday, November 11, 2011

Spicy Lemongrass Tofu : dau hu xa ot

This recipe goes out to all those who think tofu dishes are boring...!

Personally, I love tofu. I enjoy the texture, the mild flavor, the versatility, and during the down years, the great economy of it. At East Asia market in Tacoma, I think it's about $1.30 for enough tofu to feed 3-4 people as part of a meal with rice.

This recipe comes from one of my favorite Vietnamese chefs- Mai Pham. I had the pleasure to work with her a few times during my time at the CIA and learned many tips about the Vietnamese kitchen.  The following recipe is a quick, satisfying dish that will delight the taste buds and bring the aroma of the Vietnamese kitchen to your home.

Spicy Lemongrass Tofu
yield: 4 servings

2 lemongrass stalks, outer layers peeled, bottom white part thinly sliced and finely chopped (about 1/4 cup)
1 1/2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 teaspoons chopped Thai bird chilies or another fresh chili
1/2 teaspoon dried chili flakes
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
2 teaspoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
12 ounces tofu, drained, patted dry and cut into 3/4-inch cubes
4 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/2 yellow onion, cut into 1/8-inch slices
2 shallots, thinly sliced
1 teaspoon minced garlic
4 tablespoons chopped roasted peanuts
10 la lot, or pepper leaves, shredded, or 2/3 cup loosely packed Asian basil leaves

Combine the lemongrass, soy sauce, chilies, chili flakes, turmeric, sugar and salt in a bowl. Add the tofu cubes and turn to coat them evenly. Marinate for 30 minutes.

Heat half of the oil in a 12-inch nonstick skillet over moderately high heat. Add the onion, shallot and garlic and stir until fragrant, about 1 minute. Reduce the heat to low and cook until the onions are soft, about 3 minutes. Transfer to a plate and keep warm.

Wipe the pan clean and heat the remaining oil over moderate heat. Add the tofu mixture and, using chopstick or wooden spoons, turn so it cooks evenly, about 4 to 5 minutes. Add the onion mixture and cook, uncovered, for another 2 to 3 minutes. Add half the peanuts and all the pepper leaves.  Remove from the heat and transfer to a serving plate. Garnish with the remaining peanuts and serve immediately.

**I have served this over plain steamed rice or blanched fresh rice noodles tossed with saw-tooth herb, cilantro, red perilla, Thai basil, and a bit of lime juice and fish sauce.

**If you have the opportunity, pressing tofu that has been packed in water is a good habit to get in to. Place the tofu between two plates and weight it with a can of tomatoes (or similar) for about an hour. You'll be surprised by how much liquid comes out!! At the very least, be sure to pat the tofu dry before marinating it.

**East Asia Market
602 S 38th St
Tacoma, WA 98418

**Pleasures of the Vietnamese Table by Mai Pham on Amazon


  1. My mouth is watering. Looks and sounds great!

  2. This looks so good!!!!! I can't wait to make this. Thanks Jasmine for the wonderful recipe.