Prep 10 mins
Cook 15 mins
Light, delicious way to use fresh lemon grass from your garden or market. From Deborah M. Schneider, executive chef, Hilton La Jolla Torrey Pines.
- 1 lb chinese-style tofu, soft or firm (see note)
- 1⁄3 cup canola oil or 1⁄3 cup peanut oil, plus more as needed
- 1 cup cornstarch
- 2 teaspoons sugar
- 3 stalks very fresh lemongrass, white part finely minced to a paste,with
- 1⁄2 teaspoon salt (about 1/3 cup, see note)
- 8 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 1 -3 tablespoon sambal oelek chili paste (hot red chile paste, see note)
- shredded lettuce
- white rice
- Drain the tofu and cut into 1 1/2-inch squares.
- Pat as dry as possible with paper towels.
- In a heavy wok or large saute pan, heat the oil until it reaches medium-hot, but do not allow to smoke.
- Toss dried tofu cubes with cornstarch to coat lightly, and shake off excess in a sieve or colander.
- Set carefully in the hot oil (don't crowd; cook in batches if necessary) and cook until lightly brown and crisp on all sides.
- Soft tofu won't get as crisp as firm.
- Remove browned cubes from the pan, drain on paper towels and keep warm.
- Pour off all the oil but 3 tablespoons and set the pan over medium-high heat.
- Return the tofu to the pan and toss with the sugar; saute briefly until the sugar begins to melt.
- Add the lemon grass and garlic, and cook, tossing, until the lemon grass is fragrant.
- Add the sambal oelek paste and cook, tossing, until the red sauce starts to turn brown.
- Using 1 tablespoon makes the dish mildly spicy, 2 tablespoons makes it medium spicy, and 3 tablespoons makes it downright hot.
- Line a platter with shredded lettuce and spoon the cooked tofu over the lettuce.
- Serve with steamed white rice on the side.
- Makes 4 entree servings.
- Notes: Soft tofu is a little trickier to handle but gives a better finished texture.
- Firm tofu will stay quite hard; do not use extrafirm tofu.
- Lemon grass is available in the produce section of Asian markets and some supermarkets.
- Sambal oelek paste is available at Asian markets or in the Asian section of supermarkets.