Spicy Tofu With Lemon Grass and Fresh Basil

If you can’t find roasted unsalted peanuts, use salted ones but rinse well before chopping. You can also substitute chicken for the tofu. Cut boned white meat into 2-inch pieces.


  • 2 stalks lemon grass, outer layers peeled, bottom white part thinly sliced, then finely chopped (about 4 tablespoons)
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried chili flakes, or to taste
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground turmeric
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt, or to taste
  • 12 ounces firm tofu, drained, patted dry, and cut into 2-inch squares, then into triangles
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1/2 yellow onion, sliced thinly lengthwise
  • 2 tablespoons minced shallots
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1 cup loosely packed Asian basil or sweet basil leaves, roughly torn
  • 3 tablespoons chopped, roasted, unsalted peanuts

    How to make it 

  • 1

    Combine lemon grass, fish sauce, chili flakes, turmeric, sugar, and salt in a mixing bowl. Add tofu and turn carefully so each piece is evenly coated. Marinate for 30 minutes.

  • 2

    Heat oil in a large nonstick frying pan over high heat. Add onions, shallots, and garlic and stir until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add marinated tofu. Stir with chopsticks or wooden spoon, turning tofu pieces so they cook evenly. Reduce heat. Cook, uncovered, until tofu is slightly browned around the edges and onions are soft, about 5 to 7 minutes. Stir in basil leaves and half the peanuts.

  • 3

    Transfer to a serving dish and garnish with remaining peanuts. Serve immediately. Serves 4.

Become more interesting every week!

Get our Read Up newsletter

how we use your e-mail
We will use your email address to send you this newsletter. For more information please read our privacy policy.