I made this dish for a friend that is interested in preparing more dishes with tofu. It's a simple stir-fry so if you don't have lemongrass or ginger just leave them out. The soy-sesame sauce is fast to prepare. Sticky rice absorbs the sauce much better than long-grain jasmine or basmati, but this could be served over noodles too.
My secret to successful golden pan-fried tofu is pressing extra-firm tofu for as long as possible, 30 minutes or longer. To get started, first press the tofu. Unwrap it from the package, drain the water and set the tofu in a colander or drainer (either over a bowl, or the sink so the water can drain out). Place a plate over the tofu and stack cans of beans or other heavy objects on top. The weight will help expel the water from the tofu. Next, begin cooking the rice, and then prep and cut up the veggies. If you are fast vegetable chopper, you can also use the time the tofu is pressing to make the soy-sesame sauce, or prep it while the tofu is cooking. Fresh lemongrass and ginger are added towards the very end of cooking time.
Other good stir-fry veggies include cabbage, bean sprouts, and even cherry tomatoes. Feel free to add or remove items to use up what you have.
Lemongrass tofu with soy-sesame sauce and sticky rice
Ingredients (listed in order of use)
1 package tofu, pressed and drained, and then cubed into 1" chunks
2 cups sticky rice (sushi rice), prepared with 1.5 times as much water as rice, or according to package directions
2 tbsp peanut oil
1 package mushrooms, wiped clean and quartered
1 red bell pepper, in strips
1 cup snow peas
2, 4" stalks of fresh lemongrass or enough to equal about 1 tbsp chopped (see note)
1 and 1/2 tsp fresh ginger, chopped
Note: To prep the lemongrass, use a small pairing knife and cut the stalk in half length-wise. Remove the first or second layers, it'll reveal a purplish interior. Finely chop the lemongrass stocks starting from the root end. It will become tougher about 3" inches up from the root end. For the ginger, peel the skin away with a pairing knife or veg peeler, and finely chop.
For soy-sesame sauce:
3 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp rice-wine vinegar
1 tsp toasted sesame oil
1 tsp sesame seeds, toasted
3 spring onions chopped, chop the long part of the greens in 1" segments
1 clove garlic, minced fine
1/4 tsp or more red chili flakes
1. Heat up a large stir-fry pan or wok over medium-low heat. Add in 1 tsp of sesame seeds and toast until the seeds become golden. Move them around the pan often, so they won't burn. Set aside.
2. Add 2 tbsp of peanut oil to the same pan and increase the heat to medium-high heat. Once hot, add in tofu chunks. Don't touch them or move them around. Let them sit for about 5-7 minutes until the bottom 1/4" of the tofu squares look like they are turning golden. The tofu will take 15-20 minutes to become lovely, golden, and crispy. Carefully, take a spatula and lift the tofu gently up. It's ready when it gives. The length of time will depend on your pan (non-stick vs iron). When the tofu is removed easily, flip it over so the other sides can cook.
3. While the tofu cooks, prepare the soy-sesame sauce. Add soy sauce, rice-wine vinegar, sesame oil to a bowl, and adjust for taste. Add in toasted sesame seeds, the white part of the spring onions, chopped garlic and red chili flakes. Stir everything together and set aside.
4. Remove the tofu from the pan and set it aside on a large plate. There should be enough oil (about 1 tsp) leftover in the pan, if not add in 1 tsp of peanut oil. Turn heat up to medium-high or high, and add in mushrooms. Cook 5-6 minutes stirring often, and then add in red peppers, cook 4 minutes, and then add in snow peas, and cook another 2-3 minutes, or until the snow peas turn bright green.
5. Once all the veggies are cooked, add the cooked tofu to the pan, add the ginger and lemongrass, and remaining spring onion greens to the pan. Combine and stir together for 1 minute.
6. Place rice in a bowl, cover the rice with about 1 cup of the stir-fry, and top everything with 1 and 1/2 tbsp of soy-sesame sauce.