Vietnamese Lemongrass Tofu (Đậu phụ xào sả ớt) is a vegan Southern Vietnamese dish that is full of flavors and fragrances. This recipe is easy, quick to make, and is perfect for weeknight dinner!
Vietnamese Lemongrass Tofu
This recipe is inspired by a popular Vietnamese dish I ate growing up - lemongrass chicken, but with tofu as a plant-based alternative and tastes just as good. This dish is common served in Southern Vietnam at family-styled restaurants and street vendors. You can easily make this meal at home in less than 30 minutes. It makes a delicious, healthy and flavor-packed side dish.
The key ingredients of this dish are:
- Firm Tofu: you can use firm or extra firm tofu
- Chili peppers
- Soy sauce
- Turmeric powder
- A dash of black pepper
- Sugar (optional)
See the recipe card for quantity.
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 common names 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.
- Alternatively, you can chop it into chunks and use a food processor to mince it.
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 and pat dry before using.
Cut the tofu into bite-sized pieces.
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.
Remove the tough outer leaves of the lemongrass
Cut the heads off the lemongrass
Thinly chop the lemongrass stalks
Run your knife through it a few times to make sure the pieces are finely minced
Thinly chop the garlic
Mince the chili
In a pan on medium-high heat, add the oil. Once the oil is hot, add the tofu cubes and fry them until golden and crispy on both sides. Then transfer them to a plate and set aside.
Add the minced lemongrass, garlic and chili back to the pan with 1 tablespoon of oil. Stir fry for 2 minutes until fragrant.
Add the tofu back to the pan, the soy sauce, sugar and turmeric powder (for color). Stir fry for a couple of minutes until all flavors are incorporated then transfer to a plate.
Add soy sauce, black pepper and turmeric
Mix together until well combined
Serve the lemongrass chili tofu with rice or vermicelli noodles, cucumber, and coriander to balance the savory and spicy flavor.
How to serve
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.
Serve with rice noodles with some fresh herbs and sauce
Or with rice and veggie of choice
Variations and Substitutions
Thai chili pepper
The chili pepper I use for the recipe 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 like Serrano or Jalapeno peppers (these are less spicy). Omit the chili altogether if you cannot handle spicy.
If lemongrass is not readily available, you can use lemongrass paste or frozen minced lemongrass as a substitute.
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!Print