Not a fan of tofu yet? This is a tofu dish even those tofu hating meat lovers will like!
Vietnamese Lemongrass Tofu
It is one of my favorite dishes to eat at the moment. Amazingly deep in flavor due to the combination of caramel, fish sauce and lemongrass. Sweet, salty, spicy, this powerful sauce is meant for crispy tofu!
I thought about ways to substitute the fish sauce for the serious vegetarians out there and I’m still working on it.
Meanwhile you can substitute 1 tbsp fish sauce with 1tbsp plum sauce, 1 tsp salt and 1 tsp rice vinegar. It`s a good substitute but richness and depth in flavor won`t be the same!
Anyhow, this recipe probably shows you the best way to prepare tofu for a tangy stir-fry!
First try to extract as much liquid from the tofu as you can, then carefully fry it separately until golden brown and crispy before you add it to any stir-fry.
For the best results, try to find fresh made tofu at your Asian supermarket or make your own, e.g. with this great book: Asian Tofu: Discover the Best, Make Your Own, and Cook It at Home – it’s really worth the effort.
If you can’t bring yourself to try tofu – substitute tofu with chicken. But honestly – trust me and try tofu!
- 500 g tofu
- 2 tbsp vegetable oil
- 6 stalks lemongrass, soft inner white stems only, finely chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, crushed and minced
- 1 large shallot, finely chopped
- 3 birds eye chilies deseeded and finely chopped
- 2 tbsp sugar
- 2 tbsp high quality fish sauce
- 3 scallions, greens chopped
- 1 tbsp curry powder
- 1/2 tsp sea salt
Start with the tofu. Carefully! Press the tofu with your hands to extract as much liquid as possible.
Halve the tofu lengthwise and cut into slices, about 0,5 cm thick (see the picture below). Lay out the slices on a kitchen towel and lightly sprinkle with salt. Leave to dry for about 30 min. (the longer the better). Pat the tofu dry and fry in a pan with 2 tbsp vegetable oil until golden brown from both sides. Try not to break the delicate tofu slices (carefully turn each slice separately)! Remove from the pan, drain on kitchen roll paper and set aside.
Peel the lemongrass down to the inner white core and chop finely as well as the crushed garlic, shallot and chilies and set aside. (You can perfectly store leftover-chilies in the freezer until needed – this way you`ll always have fresh chilies at hand.)
In a small saucepan, heat 4 tbsp water with 2 tbsp sugar until the sugar has dissolved. Stir until caramelized to a nice golden color. Lower the heat, and add 3 tbsp water and 2 tbsp fish sauce. Stir until the caramel has completely dissolved, remove from the heat and set aside.
In a large pan fry lemongrass, garlic, shallot and chili until fragrant. Add the curry powder and fry for another minute. Add tofu and syrup to the pan and carefully coat the tofu with the sauce. Season with salt to taste.
Serve with steamed rice and topped with chopped scallions.