Fried Tofu with Carrot and Lemongrass Stir Fry



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The chopped carrots, ginger, lemongrass, chilli and beansprouts await the hot wok. The soy, chilli and lime dip sits on the table, waiting for a bit of tofu, which is meanwhile crisping and turning golden in the pan.

Today’s late lunch consisted of simply done, shallow fried tofu cubes with a classic Vietnamese dipping sauce, and a little stir fry of carrots and beansprouts done with Vietnamese style flavouring – lemongrass, chilli, lime, ginger and peanuts. It was a very quick one to do (depending on how much patience you have to chop up the carrot into tiny batons), but delicious with fresh rice.

Resisting the temptation to put the tofu in with the vegetables to stir fry is important. Most Vietnamese dishes work with one main component, which is then complemented by several other different dishes at the table. This means that the flavours of each dish are very concentrated. This is ever more important when using tofu, which is tends to absorb rather than impart flavour. And from my cooking trials and errors, I’ve learnt you should always treat vegetables with a bit of respect – don’t just mix everything you’ve got left in the fridge. That normally ends up gross. Would you chop up and fry 5 different types of meat together?

Also, I apologise for my poor quality photos since the Banh Chung recipe was posted up – I’ll be retrieving a better camera soon!

Recipe (Serves 2):

For the Tofu

Chop tofu into 2 cm cubes. Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a pan and fry the tofu on a medium heat, turning so that all sides go golden brown and slightly crisp.

For the Dipping Sauce

2 tablespoons light soy sauce
1 tablespoon lime juice
1 tablespoon water
half a clove of garlic, minced
Half a red chilli, minced
Half a teaspoon of sugar
Half a tablespoon of chopped peanuts
Mix all indredients together, adding peanuts at the end as a garnish.

For The Stir Fry

1 large carrot
200 grams beansprouts
1 lemongrass stalk, minced
1 inch piece of ginger, minced
Half a red thai bird chilli, minced
1 Tablespoon lime juice
2 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons light soy sauce
1 clove of garlic, minced
1/4 onion, chopped
1 tablespoon oil
Several sprigs of mint or coriander.

Heat the oil on a medium heat and then add the onion and fry for a minute before adding the garlic, ginger, chilli, and lemongrass. Fry for another minute then turn to heat up high and add the carrots. Also add the soy sauce, water and lime juice at this point.

Stir fry for 2 minutes, then add the bean sprouts for another two minutes. Sprinkle with the chopped peanuts and serve with a mint or coriander garnish.

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