Lemongrass is very common in Vietnamese cuisine. It is considered as a mild diuretic, tonic and stimulant. It's very fibrous so lemongrass needs to be finely chopped.
This particular recipe combines lemongrass with fried tofu.
Lemongrass is quite expensive in stores and it sold by bulk of 5 stalks. It's a perennial. I asked my husband about it and he started to grow 4 "bushes" last year and we keep getting some, which is very convenient.
Yields: 6 servings1 block tofu, firm
2 stalk fresh lemongrass
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
1-½ Tbs sugar
1 Tbs gray salt
1 tsp red chili powder
5 Tbs canola oil
1 serrano or jalapeno green pepper, sliced
Cut the piece of tofu into 1/4 to 1/2-inch even slices. Pour the oil into a big pan, add the sliced serrano peppers and cook until they soften and change color a bit. Remove the pepper slices from the pan and set aside in a plate. The reason for cooking the serrano peper first is to provide a nice aroma to the oil. Pan fry the slices until slightly golden. Don't overcook the pieces or they'll start to get hard. The tofu should still be moist and able to absorb all the lemongrass later. Transfer all the tofu to a paper towel and let it cool down.
Cut the pieces of tofu into very thin shreds. Set aside on a plate.
Wash the lemongrass. Remove all the white powder off of the leaves. Cut into extremely thin slices using a chef knife. In a mortar and pestle, grind the thin slices of lemongrass and then transfer and mix everything using a mini food processor. It should turn into a fine moist powder. Transfer in a bowl. Add the sugar, salt and chili powder.
In a wok, add about 2 Tbs of the serrano infused oil from the tofu used earlier. Heat the pan. Add the minced cloves of garlic and cook until it is slightly golden. Bring the heat to the highest setting, add the chopped tofu and 2/3 of the quantity of the lemongrass mixture. Stir constantly and cook for about 5 minutes until the color changes and all the lemongrass has stuck to the pieces of tofu. Once the tofu is golden, add the remaining lemongrass tofu and the sliced serrano peppers.
Serve with steamed jasmine rice.
I absolutely love the Thanh Son tofu brand. If you live in the Bay Area, you have to try it. They sell in almost all the Asian markets in downtown San Jose and their main shop is on 2857 Senter Road, San Jose. It's a very little shop but everything is very good. Their factory makes the best tofu texture. This is the perfect place for vegetarians. I always get 2 to 3 pieces of fresh tofu every week. I also recommend to try their fried mushroom tofu cubes as well. They also serve other foods, it's very authentic.
The lemongrass stalk has to be finely chopped then ground in the mini food processor. If not, the dish will be ruined and willl have the texture of fingernails... not so phamfatale-ish!
I've used 3 mini-food preps so far and the mini Cuisinart is definitely my favorite one. Don't get tempted into buying the slightly bigger size. I made the mistake of buying one of these larger processors because it was about the same price but ended up returning it. The problem is that the ingredients won't grind as finely as the mini. I would advise you to get the mini-prep for your sauces and the 14-cup one for your bigger jobs. There is no need to get the models in between. It'll just clutter your kitchen.Published By: on February 20, 2009.