I can vouch that this tofu is really really tasty. I recommend you give it a try!
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Each time I have cooked this recipe, people have asked for the recipe - even some people who say they don't like tofu! Leftovers are also delicious, so feel free to make more than you need.
Note that the recipe calls for 1/4 cup of chopped lemon grass. For convenience, I use already prepared fresh chopped lemongrass sold in tubes in the fresh produce refrigerator section of most large grocery stores. It is very handy to have in the fridge to add to any asian style recipe. If you use fresh lemon grass for this recipe, peel off the hard, dried outer leaves and finely mince the lemongrass soft inner core.
Spicy lemongrass tofu (Adapted from original recipe by Mai Pham on Epicurious.com)
1/4 cup finely minced lemongrass
1 1/2 tbsp soy sauce
1/2 - 1 tsp sirachi sauce (to desired heat level)
1/2 tsp dried chili flakes (to desired heat level)
1 tsp ground tumeric (optional - it gives a pleasant yellow colour to the cooked dish but is not vital to the flavor)
1 tbsp white sugar
1 package firm or extra firm tofu (350g), cut into ~1.5cm cubes
3-4 tbsp vegetable oil
1/2 medium sweet (vidalia) onion, cut into 5mm slices
1 tsp garlic, minced
1 red sweet pepper, cut into 1-2cm cubes
1/4 cup roasted peanuts, chopped
1/2 - 2/3 cup asian basil leaves, juliened if large
Combine the marinade ingredients in a shallow container and toss with the tofu cubes. The marinade is quite thick. Allow to marinate at least 30min, but it can sit for a full day (or 2!) before cooking.
Heat a heavy fry pan with 2 tbsp oil over high heat. When the oil is very hot, add the marinated tofu. (If there is left over marinade in the bowl, save to add to the veggie stirfry part of this recipe.) Allow the tofu to sit in the hot oil fry pan in a single layer without moving for about 3 minutes - the idea is to let the sugar carmelize on the tofu to form a delicious crust on each cube - if the tofu is moved too much while frying then the crust doesn't develop. To prevent the tofu from burning give the fry pan a gentle shake every ~30-60 seconds. Keep checking the bottom of the tofu cubes for crispy doneness, and then use a spatula to flip the cubes over with the goal of getting at least 2 sides of each cube cooked to crispy brown perfection. It takes about 8-10minutes to achieve this. When the tofu is cooked lower the temp to very low and do NOT cover the fry pan - if you cover it then the crispy coating turns soggy.
In another fry pan or wok heat 1-2tbsp of oil over moderate heat. Cook the onion and garlic until soft and fragrant, about 3 minutes. If there was marinade left in the tofu bowl, add it to the fry pan now. Add the chopped red pepper until lightly cooked, about 2 minutes. Just before serving toss the cooked tofu cubes, peanuts and basil together with the onion pepper mixture and serve on a bed of steamed rice.
Serves 4-6 as a main course.