“Of all the wonderful food we ate on a recent holiday in Vietnam, the best food was still made by my mother-in-law during the few days we spent in my husband’s family village about four hours south of Ho Chi Minh. Of my favourites of hers is lemongrass tofu. It's beyond simple to prepare, even though I can still never get mine quite as tasty as hers and is basically just two ingredients – tofu and lemongrass. Eaten alongside bowls of steamed rice, chilli greens and a dipping sauce, it makes the perfect light summer meal. Even my meat-loving husband comes back for seconds.”
- olive or grapeseed oil, to shallow-fry
- 300 g firm tofu (see Note), pat dry, cut into 1cm-thick slices
- ¼ cup finely chopped lemongrass (from 1-2 stalks)
- sea salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
- 2 tbsp olive or grapeseed oil
- a big handful of kangkong (water spinach) (see Note), cut into 7 cm lengths
- 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 1 red bird’s-eye chilli, finely chopped
- a splash of soy sauce (see Note)
- steamed jasmine rice and sliced long red chillies, to serve
- juice of ½ lime
- soy sauce (see Note), to taste
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
To make the dipping sauce, combine the lime juice and soy sauce in a bowl. Set aside.
To make the lemongrass tofu, fill a large frying pan 1 cm deep with the oil and heat over high heat. Add the tofu and cook, turning, for 8-10 minutes or until golden on all sides. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towel. Transfer to a serving bowl and season with plenty of salt and pepper.
Add all but 2 tsp lemongrass to the pan, along with a touch more oil if needed and cook, stirring, for 1-2 minutes or until the lemongrass is crispy. Remove from heat. Stir in the remaining lemongrass, then pour over the tofu.
To make the chilli kangkong, heat the oil in a frying pan over high heat. Add the garlic and chilli, and stir-fry for 1 minute, then add the kangkong. Stir-fry for 30 seconds or until it starts to wilt. Add the soy sauce and stir well to combine. Remove from heat.
Serve the hot tofu and kangkong with the steamed rice, sliced red chillies and dipping sauce.
• Kangkong is available at Asian grocers. Substitute regular spinach, kumara (sweet potato) leaves or bok choy.
• I use non-GMO tofu.
• I use gluten-free soy sauce.
Recipe from My Darling Lemon Thyme. Recipe, styling and photography by Emma Galloway.