Lemongrass Tofu Lesson

Brother Radiance at the Magnolia Grove Monastery in Mississippi made this Lemongrass Tofu recipe appear simple at the Happy Kitchen, Happy Me retreat. I waited a few weeks to give it a go and feel like I missed important details.

I made a few adjustments to the recipe in my first attempt. Brother Radiance used finely chopped lemongrass from a thawed frozen package. I peeled the outer leaves of fresh lemongrass and chopped the dense lower six inches of their stalks. Brother Radiance used a mortar and pestle to mash the onion and garlic. I used an electric food processor to pulse and chop the lemongrass, onion and garlic together. I guessed the amount of brown sugar and salt and I substituted crushed red pepper for a fresh unspecified chili pepper because my incomplete notes from the retreat lacked sufficient detail.

The slight differences in my ingredients and techniques led to mixed results. My fried tofu produced a desireable, crisp exterior and a textured soft curd interior, but the flavors underwhelmed. The taste I remembered from the retreat demo proved elusive in my home attempt. Brother Radiance also prepared a lighter, less oily Lemongrass Tofu than mine.

The ingredient portions below approximate what I observed Brother Radiance use in his demonstration of the recipe. The directions describe changed techniques for assembling the lemongrass stuffing. After some mindful reflection, I would use less oil in the pan (the quarter-inch listed below is a correction from my attempt). I would also throw in some minced ginger for some zing and spice to pair with the lemongrass. I’ll probably use a red Fresno pepper for color and heat instead of crushed red pepper next time.

Breathe in. Breathe out. Repeat. I’ll make this again with lessons learned.

Lemongrass Tofu

  • Servings: 4
  • Time: 40 minutes
  • Difficulty: Hard
  • Print

Ingredients:

  • 6 stalks Lemongrass, bottom roughly chopped
  • 1/2 Onion, roughly chopped
  • 4 Garlic cloves
  • 1 Small chili pepper, stem removed
  • 1 tsp Kosher salt
  • 2 tbsp Brown sugar
  • 14 oz. Firm tofu, pressed and patted dry
  • Canola oil

Directions:

  1. Add lemongrass, onion, garlic, chili pepper, salt and sugar to an electric food processor and finely chop all ingredients
  2. Cut tofu into four long blocks. Cut 2/3 to 3/4 of the way through each block along the center of one side. Stuff opening of each block with lemongrass mixture.
  3. Pour oil in a pot or pan that is about 1/4 inch deep (oil should not rise higher thanthe lemongrass mixture stuffed into the tofu when placed in the pan). Heat oil to high.
  4. When the oil is hot, place stuffed tofu on one side into the pan. Fry in the oil until crisp on one side (4-6 minutes) and flip over the tofu on the closed edge with a spatula and chopsticks.
  5. Remove tofu to a plate lined with paper towels to absorb excess oil. Allow to rest for 4-5 minutes and serve on a new plate.

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