If you did NOT try my Vietnamese Lemongrass Chicken, do yourself a favor and check it out 🙂 If you aren’t into chicken, or you are looking for a simpler recipe with a similar flavor profile, this tofu recipe is everything. When the Prince and I traveled through Vietnam, we literally looked to eat as many plates of crispy tofu as we could. I think it’s best when it has the lemongrass bits, although plain Jane over here could go either way. The OMG moment I had when developing this recipe (because I first tried it with extra firm tofu) is that Nasoya SUPER FIRM tofu EXISTS and that is exactly what you need for this dish.
SHOPPING LIST: 2 packages super firm tofu, grapeseed oil, chopped garlic, dried lemongrass, salt, pepper
I’m going to link here a similar version of the lemongrass I used because you want to make sure you are using a FINELY cut product like THIS. Lemongrass isn’t always the easiest thing to find fresh so using a dry product allows us to get the same result with an ingredient that is accessible to most everyone.
The BEST part of this super firm tofu is it doesn’t require all the work of pressing out the excess liquid like other tofus do. So first, open your two tofu packages. You are going to turn each tofu cube on it’s side and make 2 equal horizontal slices so you end up with 3 flat tofu pieces. Keep the tofu stacked on top of one another, flip it onto the un-cut surface, then make 3 slices in one direction, and then 3 equal slices in the other direction (so each slice of tofu renders 16 cubes). Repeat this process on both cubes and then lightly pat try all of your tofu cubes with a paper towel.
In a skillet or saucepan, heat 1/2 cup of grapeseed oil over medium-high heat. Add 2 heaping tB. of chopped garlic and 1/3 cup of dried lemongrass. Sauté until the garlic begins to get some color. Next, add all of your tofu cubes and give them a quick toss to marry with the garlic and lemongrass. Then, STEP AWAY, and allow the tofu cubes to brown for 3-4 minutes before tossing again. When trying to get things crispy, it’s important to allow the surface area of whatever you are browning to really CONNECT with the surface area of your hot pan/hot oil to give it time to brown thoroughly. This is a very simple dish, but the KEY is to ensure you achieve that crispy TEXTURE! After your tofu gets it’s initial sear, you can begin to move your cubes around in the oil with a wooden spoon, ensuring that every side of cube has the opportunity to brown. Season your tofu with a GENEROUS amount of salt and pepper – TOFU is notoriously bland, so I would go as far as a full tsp. of each. Last note, TOFU IS ABSORBENT – so if your oil runs dry (like mine did) add an extra 1/4 cup to continue frying your tofu until it’s golden brown all sides!
Finish with an extra sprinkle of salt before serving. I like to serve mine with Sweet Chili Sauce – because WHY NOT? it’s store-bought and delicious – but you could also serve this dish with an easy soy dipping sauce: 1/2 cup soy sauce, 2 tB. chopped scallions, 1/2 tsp. sugar, 2 tsp. sesame oil and 2 tsp. of rice wine vinegar.