Vietnamese Lemongrass Chili Tofu (Đậu phụ xào xả ớt) is a vegan Southern Vietnamese dish – full of flavors and fragrant. This recipe is super easy and quick to make!
Vietnamese Lemongrass Chili Tofu
This recipe is inspired by a popular Vietnamese dish I ate growing up – lemongrass chili chicken, but with tofu as a plant-based alternative and tastes just as good. This meal can be done in 30 minutes, is yummy, healthy and flavor-packed.
The three key ingredients of this dish are: fragrant aromatics (lemongrass, chili, garlic) and the tofu.
Lemongrass is a herb native to South and Southeast Asia. You can find this herb in Asian supermarkets and in some local supermarkets as well. The other variants of the name are Xả (Vietnamese), Sereh (Indonesian).
To prepare the lemongrass:
- Chop off the tough edge of the lemongrass and remove the outer leaves. These scraps are tougher and harder to work with, can be used to make tea.
- Thinly dice the lemongrass horizontally then run your knife through it a couple of times to make sure the pieces are finely minced.
Lemongrass stalks are very popular in cooking and can be used to brew tea. Check out my peach lemongrass tea recipe here!
Thai chili pepper
The chili pepper I use is Thai chili (bird’s eye chili) as I like the spicy taste. One bird’s eye chili goes a long way. This type of chili is popular in South East Asian cooking.
Feel free to switch this for other types of pepper that you have on hand but increase the quantity as Serrano and Jalapeno peppers tend to be less spicy. Omit the chili altogether if you cannot handle spicy.
You can use extra firm or firm tofu for this recipe. If you use extra firm tofu, pat dry the tofu first. If you use firm tofu, then press for 10 minutes to remove excess water.
The tofu in this recipe is first fried until golden and crispy, then remove from heat. Then fry the minced aromatics for 1 minute until fragrant, add back in the tofu with the soy sauce and turmeric (for color). The tofu complements well with the lemongrass chili and absorbs the sauce.
How to serve the Lemongrass Chili Tofu?
You can serve this recipe over rice or in a vermicelli noodle bowl with a Vietnamese dipping sauce. It keeps well in the fridge for up to 3-4 days.
If you have tried my recipe, please let me know what you think by leaving me a review on this page or tagging me on Instagram @veggieanh. I would love to see your creations!
Lemongrass Chili Tofu
- 400 g firm tofu
- 2 stalks lemongrass
- 1 bird-eyed Thai chili
- 1 tsp corn starch
- 1 pint salt
- 1 tbsp oil
- 2 tbsp soy sauce
- 1 tsp turmeric powder
- Press the tofu for 10 minutes to squeeze out all the excess water. Cut the tofu into bite-sized pieces.
- Add salt and corn starch to the tofu, mix to combine.
- Remove the tough outer part of the lemongrass. Finely minced the lemongrass and chili pepper. Alternatively, you can chop them into chunks and put them in a food processor.
- In a pan on medium high heat, add the oil. Once the oil is hot, add the tofu cubes and let them sits for 10 minutes until one side is golden.
- Flip the tofu and repeat the process until all sides are golden. Once all the tofu cubes are golden and crispy to your liking, move them to a plate.
- Add the minced lemongrass and chili back to the pan with the remaining oil. Stir fry for 2-3 minutes until fragrant.
- Add the tofu and stir fry the lemongrass chili and tofu for 1 minute.
- Add the soy sauce and turmeric powder (for color). Stir fry for a couple minutes until all flavors are incorporated then transfer to a plate.
- Serve the lemongrass chili tofu with rice or vermicelli noodles, cucumber and coriander to balance the savory and spicy flavor.