Mushrooms and tofu are two ingredients that soak up flavors well. Pair them with a beautiful sauce and they are transformed. Sweet chili sauce is good but add lemongrass and kaffir lime leaves, and it smells and tastes even better.
This sweet spicy mushrooms and tofu is a meatless dish although not exactly vegetarian because of the fish sauce. If you want to transform it into a vegan dish, omit the fish sauce and use salt in its place. The aroma and flavor of the sauce and dish won’t be the same, however.
I had more lemongrass chili sauce than I needed for this mushrooms and tofu dish. I used only about one fourth cup to flavor the mushrooms and tofu. That was quite enough to coat them to give them a glossy appearance and a slightly sticky texture.
And the leftover sauce? I simply poured the rest into a jar with a screw-on cap and kept it in the fridge. It can be a finishing sauce or a dipping sauce for grilled or fried meat, chicken or seafood.
Sweet chili mushrooms and tofu
For the lemongrass chili sauce
- 3 stalks lemongrass
- 1 pair kaffir lime leaves
- 1 teaspoon chopped garlic
- 1 teaspoon chopped ginger
- ⅛ to ¼ teaspoon lime zest - or lemon zest
- 2 to 3 bird's eye chilies - finely sliced
- 2 tablespoons fish sauce
- ¼ cup lime juice - or lemon juice
- ½ cup light brown sugar - loosely packed
To cook the dish
- 150 grams firm tofu
- 1 cup cooking oil - for frying
- 1 small onion - thinly sliced
- 4 to 6 button mushrooms - I used brown, quartered
- 2 tablespoons finely sliced scallions
Make the sauce
- In a small sauce pan, stir all the ingredients together with a quarter cup of water.
- Bring the sauce to a gentle boil. Lower the heat and simmer, uncovered, for ten minutes until reduced by about a third. The sauce will thicken a bit more as it cools.
- Leave it to infuse while you prepare the rest of the ingredients. If you have the time, you may cook the sauce a day ahead and let it infuse at room temperature overnight.
Cook the tofu
- Cut the tofu into one-inch cubes.
- Heat the cooking oil in a frying pan.
- Fry the tofu in the hot oil until golden and crisp. Flip them around during frying for even browning.
- Scoop out the tofu and set aside.
Complete the dish
- Pour off the oil from the frying pan leaving only about two tablespoonfuls. Reheat the oil.
- Over medium heat, cook the quartered mushrooms with the sliced onion in the hot oil with a little salt and pepper for about two minutes.
- Add the tofu back to the pan. Stir.
- Take about a quarter cup of the sauce, pour over the tofu and mushrooms and cook, tossing, for about half a minute to heat the tofu cubes through.
- Spoon the mushrooms and tofu with lemongrass chili sauce into small bowls.
- Drizzle any remaining sauce in the pan directly over the mushrooms and tofu.
- Sprinkle with sliced scallions before serving.