Tofu has increased tremendously in popularity over the past few decades (it is no longer something for meat-eaters to laugh at but is instead something that many meat-eaters now enjoy from time to time.) But still, tofu on its own is quite bland so it needs to be flavored heavily before I'll really enjoy it. This recipe succeeds in turning ordinary tofu into a superstar! The tofu is pan-fried, giving it a crispy outer coating, and is then combined with onions, red bell pepper, shiitake mushrooms and lemongrass. The onions and peppers become carmelized and sweet and the shiitake mushrooms provide great texture. A dressing of nothing more than fish sauce and sugar finishes the dish. If you have never used lemongrass, you must try it - it adds an amazing aroma and fresh flavor to any dish!
Fresh Rice Paper Rolls
Lemongrass Tofu
Steamed Jasmine Rice
Chinese Broccoli with Black Bean Sauce


vegetable oil (for pan-frying)
14 ounces firm tofu, drained and cut into 1-inch squares
salt and pepper
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 tablespoons minced fresh lemongrass (stalks only)
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
1/2 red bell pepper, cut into strips
4 ounces shiitake mushrooms, stemmed and thickly sliced
1 tablespoon fish sauce
1 tablespoon sugar
chopped fresh cilantro for garnish (optional)

Cooking Instructions

Add enough vegetable oil to a large, nonstick skillet to coat the bottom thoroughly. Heat the vegetable oil over medium-high heat. Add the tofu squares and cook, turning every few minutes, until golden on all sides (about 10 minutes.) Transfer to paper towels and sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper.

Heat 3 tablespoons of vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the lemongrass and garlic and cook until fragrant (about 1 minute.) Add the onion, red bell pepper, and shiitake mushrooms and cook until the vegetables are crisp-tender (about 3 minutes.) Add the fish sauce and sugar and cook for another minute. Add the fried tofu squares and cook until heated through and coated in the sauce. Sprinkle with chopped fresh cilantro and serve.

Makes 2 main-course servings



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Lemongrass can be used in a variety of ways. Try cutting lemongrass into lengths, bruising or crushing to release the flavor and adding to a soup stock for a refreshing flavor. For this recipe or any stir-fry, cut off the roots and peel off the hard outer leaves. Using only the tender section at the base (4 to 6 inches), mince or slice finely.

There are several types of tofu available ranging from firm to soft, Chinese-style to silken (or Japanese-style.) Extra-firm tofu is the best option for marinating and cutting into cubes for a stir-fry. Softer varieties are better for using in tofu-based spreads and dressings.

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