Spicy Lemongrass Tofu
adapted from Mai Pham, Pleasures of the Vietnamese Table, Harper Collins, 2001
12-16 ounces extra-firm tofu
2 lemongrass stalks, outer layers peeled, bottom white part thinly sliced and finely chopped
1 1/2 tablespoons fish sauce
1-2 teaspoons Thai bird chiles, chopped
1/2 teaspoon dried chile flakes
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
2 teaspoons sugar
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/2 yellow onion, chopped
1-2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
4 tablespoons roasted peanuts, chopped
1/3 cup loosely packed Asian basil leaves, sliced into thin strips
Drain tofu and pat dry. Cut into cubes.
Combine the lemongrass, fish sauce, chiles, chile flakes, turmeric, and sugar in a bowl. Add tofu and turn to coat them evenly. Marinate for 30 minutes, or overnight.
Heat oil in 12-inch, nonstick skillet over moderately high heat. Add onion and garlic and stir until fragrant, about 1 minute. Reduce heat to low and cook until onions are soft, about 3 minutes.
Adjust heat to moderate. Add marinated tofu and, using chopsticks or wooden spoon, turn to cook evenly, about 6 to 8 minutes. Add half of the chopped peanuts and all of the Asian basil leaves.
Remove from heat. Garnish with remaining peanuts and serve immediately with steamed rice.
Yield: 4 servings