Inspired by my recent trip to Vietnam, this 15 minute lemongrass tofu is packed full of bold and vibrant flavours. Serve it up with a side of rice for a complete and healthy meal!
Here in Montreal, we have our fair share of Vietnamese restaurants, and most of them are pretty great! But traveling to Vietnam really opened my eyes to a whole new realm of recipes. Based on Vietnam’s geography and culture, it is not surprising how vast their cuisine truly is.
What makes Vietnamese cuisine special?
Vietnamese cuisine is so unique with the blend of all the different flavours. Sweet and spicy, cooling and warming, fresh and fermented are all combined to make the traditional dishes. These flavours make every dish different!
Aside from the iconic Vietnamese elements of rice and fish sauce (we use a combination of oyster sauce and maple syrup to make this – it’s not as scary as it sounds, believe me), this cuisine includes tons of herbs. This 15 minute lemongrass tofu recipe infuses lemongrass to make it fresh and light.
How to cook with lemongrass
Typically lemongrass is used in Asian cuisines. In Thai cuisine, you generally throw the whole stick of lemongrass into a soup or curry to infuse it with flavour. However, in Vietnamese cooking, they use lemongrass a bit differently.
There was one technique used in many of the dishes there that I haven’t really seen used anywhere else, chopping up fine pieces of lemongrass into many of their dishes.
I used to think that if you cut up lemongrass it would be really stalky and well…just not particularly appetizing to eat.
But Vietnamese cuisine taught me that it’s all about how you prepare the lemongrass. The big secret to cooking with lemongrass is to chop it up very thin. You also want to remove the outer layer, leaving only the more tender layers of the lemongrass.
Benefits of lemongrass
Lemongrass has so many benefits. First, it has antioxidant properties, which can help rid the body of free radicals (hello reducing the risk of cancer!). Not surprisingly, lemongrass also can help reduce inflammation. And we all know how bad chronic inflammation is for the body!
Another benefit of lemongrass I find particularly great is its ability to help with digestion. Lemongrass tea is often used to soothe upset stomachs; ranging from cramping to overall vague digestive problems. Studies have also shown lemongrass to support the lining of the stomach. This defends it against common irritants such as medicines and acidic food. Therefore, it is a natural ulcer preventative!
Let’s make 15 minute Lemongrass Tofu
Now, if you’re one of those people who think that tofu can be pretty bland, then this recipe is for you. This 15 minute lemongrass tofu is super crispy, and jam-packed with flavour. And the best part? No marinating for hours beforehand! Let’s get to it.
- 1 brick organic tofu
- 2 1/2 tbsp avocado oil(or vegetable oil of choice)
- 1 stalk lemongrass, finely chopped
- 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- a handful chives, roughly chopped
- 2 tbsp soy sauce (gluten-free if needed)
- 2 tbsp vegetarian oyster sauce
- 2 tsp maple syrup
- 1 cup brown rice, cooked according to package directions (or rice of choice)
- Open your brick of tofu and place between 2 paper towels to squeeze out as much liquid as you can.
- Chop the tofu into cubes.
- Heat 2 tbsp avocado oil in a large non-stick pan on medium-high heat.
- Add the tofu to the pan, and cook on each side for 2-3 minutes, until golden brown on each side
- Push all the tofu to the side of the pan, lower the heat to medium, and add the remaining 1/2 tbsp avocado oil to the pan.
- Next add the lemongrass, garlic, and chives and cook for 1-2 minutes.
- Lower the heat to medium-low, stir the tofu and seasoning together and add the soy sauce, oyster sauce and maple syrup to the pan.
- Toss all together.
- Serve alongside rice.