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Spicy Lemon Grass Tofu

Yield Makes 3 or 4 servings
Notes: This Vietnamese dish was adapted from Pleasures of the Vietnamese Table, by Mai Pham (Harper-Collins, NY, 2001).


  • 1 package (12 to 16 oz.) water-packed firm tofu
  • 2 stalks fresh lemon grass (each 10 to 12 in. long)
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 1/2 to 2 teaspoons minced fresh hot chili such as Thai bird or serrano
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • About 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup thinly sliced onion
  • 2 tablespoons minced shallots
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon salad oil
  • 2/3 cup fresh Thai or regular basil leaves
  • 3 tablespoons chopped unsalted roasted peanuts
  • 4 cups hot cooked rice

Nutrition Information

  • calories 413
  • caloriesfromfat 26 %
  • protein 21 g
  • fat 12 g
  • satfat 1.8 g
  • carbohydrate 57 g
  • fiber 2.2 g
  • sodium 692 mg
  • cholesterol 0.0 mg

How to Make It

  1. Rinse tofu, drain in a colander for about 5 minutes, then pat dry with paper towels. Cut into 3/4-inch cubes and lightly blot with more towels.

  2. Rinse lemon grass. Cut off and discard tough tops and root ends; peel off and discard tough, green outer layers of stalks down to tender white portion of bulbs. Finely chop tender portions; you should have 4 to 7 tablespoons.

  3. In a bowl, mix lemon grass, soy sauce, chili, sugar, turmeric, and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Gently stir in tofu. Let marinate for 5 to 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

  4. In a 10- to 12-inch nonstick frying pan over high heat, stir onion, shallots, and garlic in oil until fragrant, about 1 minute; push to one side of pan. Add tofu mixture. Gently turn cubes occasionally and stir onion mixture until tofu is browned around the edges and onion is soft, 5 to 7 minutes.

  5. Stir in basil leaves and half the peanuts. Add salt to taste. Pour into a serving dish. Garnish with remaining peanuts. Serve with hot cooked rice.