lemongrass-chile tofu (dau hu xa ot)

  • Currently 4/5
like mom used to make...sorta'. my mom usually slits them and stuffs the lemongrass mix inside. more time-consuming, but really good. this is just a simple sauté.
2 lemongrass stalks, outer layers peeled, bottom white part thinly sliced and finely chopped (about 1/4 cup)
2 tbsp soy sauce
1 tsp chopped Thai bird chilies or another fresh chili
1 tsp sugar
12 oz tofu, drained, patted dry and cut into 3/4-inch cubes
4 tbsp vegetable oil
1/2 yellow onion, cut into 1/8-inch slices
2 shallots, thinly sliced
3 garlic cloves
1. combine the lemongrass, soy sauce, chilies and sugar in a bowl. add the tofu cubes and turn to coat them evenly. marinate for 30 minutes.
2. heat 2 tbsp of 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.
3. wipe the pan clean and heat 2 tbsp of oil over moderate heat. add the tofu marinade 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.
4. remove from the heat and transfer to a serving plate. garnish with the remaining peanuts and serve immediately with steamed rice.
i do not press my tofu because i do not like the drier, chewy texture of pressed tofu. if you've ever had agedashi tofu fried up crispy outside, moist and tender inside, than you will understand why i don't like dry, chew-some tofu. i like mine juicy.

though, some of the arguments state that it absorbs more liquid and flavor, i've never had any problems soaking in the flavor (just let it marinate longer). as for being easier to fry and keeping its shape, if you use firm, not silken tofu and a decent frying pan, you should not have any problems. however, if you like it chewy, feel free to press your tofu. me, i'll just pat it dry with a towel.

and if you can find locally made, fresh tofu, buy that instead of those tubs found in grocery stores. that off-flavor that people usually complain about is an indication that it's more than a couple of days old which won't kill you but definitely sucks next to the clean taste of fresh tofu.
Cuisine   VietnameseCooking Method   Pan Fried
Main Ingredient   Tofu/SoyPrep Time   less than 15 minutes
Features   Dairy-Free, Vegan, Vegetarian

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