And so we take a break from the sweets and the meats and all those rich dishes that seem to be the benchmark of the holiday season. The girls are back in the condo, and Speedy and I thought we’d live on scraps and leftovers for the next couple of days. Well, we tried for about half a day. By nightfall, Speedy was in the kitchen fixing us a light dinner. It’s a dish he had made before but did not take photos of. This time, I was waiting with my camera mounted on the tripod even before he was done cooking. This tofu dish is just too good not to be shared.
Not that we invented the recipe. No, the credit for the recipe goes to Luke Nguyen. The credit for the successful reproduction at home goes to Speedy totally.
You can serve this dish by itself, as a main meal or as a snack, or you can pair it with hot rice.
Salty, spicy, subtly sweet and highly aromatic, the amount of herbs and spices are totally adjustable to suit your taste so treat the amounts provided below as a rough guide.
- 1 cake firm tofu about 300 grams
- 1 stalk lemongrass white part only, finely chopped (see post on how to prepare lemongrass)
- 1 bird’s eye chili finely chopped
- 3/4 tablespoon finely diced garlic
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 3/4 teaspoon sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
- 2 to 3 tablespoons vegetable cooking oil (you may need more if you’re not using a non-stick pan)
- 1 tablespoon sliced scallions to garnish
Rinse and drain the tofu. Cut into two-inch squares about an inch thick. For best results, lay on a stack of paper towels to remove the excess water.
Meanwhile, prepare the herbs and seasonings. Mix together the lemongrass, chili, garlic, salt, sugar and pepper. Gently rub the mixture on all surfaces of the tofu squares, taking care not to break the delicate curd.
Using a very sharp pointed knife, cut a cross on one side of the tofu, the cut deeper where the two slashes intersect. Push the remaining spice mixture into the the center of each tofu square.
Heat the cooking oil in a non-stick frying pan. Fry the tofu squares until browned, flipping them over for even cooking.
Arrange the fried tofu squares on a plate. Garnish with sliced scallions. Serve hot.