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.
- 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
- Add lemongrass, onion, garlic, chili pepper, salt and sugar to an electric food processor and finely chop all ingredients
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.