Zesty and sweet baked lemongrass tofu is a delicious, oil-free vegan dish made with just 5 simple ingredients. This simple recipe is perfect for a plant-based meal that is easy to prepare, flavorful, and nutritious.
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Why You'll Love This Recipe
Have you ever looked at those woody green stalks and asked, 'what can you do with lemongrass? Or what can you do beyond making red curry paste? We're solving part of that mystery today with a tofu recipe so easy you'll have time to relax while it bakes.
If you aren't a confirmed tofu lover or a plant-based beginner, or this is your first time cooking and eating tofu, this recipe is also for you. We're keeping it healthy (no added oil), with delicious flavor and a firm, not spongy texture.
Ingredients, Notes, and Substitutions
Tofu. Use firm or extra firm tofu. Silken tofu contains too much extra moisture and isn't for this recipe. You may need to press it depending on how much excess water it has. This recipe is based on a 20-ounce (280-gram) block. You can adjust the ingredient amounts in the recipe card using a larger block.
Lemongrass. Lemongrass is, you guessed it, grass. Fresh lemongrass looks like a woody stalk with a greenish-yellow bulb on end. If you don't find fresh stalks, don't despair. Lemongrass is sometimes sold preprepared in little jars of lemongrass paste, like minced ginger. If you get lucky and find it that way, use 1 tablespoon.
Coconut aminos or soy sauce. Loaded with umami flavor, coconut aminos are a lighter version of soy sauce. It is soy-free and gluten-free. This recipe also accepts soy sauce or Tamari, which is gluten-free.
Maple syrup. Feel free to use another liquid sweetener, such as date paste. The idea is to balance the zippy flavor of lemongrass and the salt of the aminos or soy sauce with something sweet.
Garlic. Finely mince or press 2 cloves of garlic to sharpen the flavor. The garlic taste will be mellower as the tofu bakes with the marinade.
Step 1: Press the tofu block for 15-20 minutes using a tofu press. Alternatively, wrap the block of tofu in paper towels between 2 plates with the top weighed with something heavy.
Step 2: Use a sharp knife to cut off the lemongrass bulb and spiked top. Trim the outer husks (2-4) until you have a tender, whitish heart of the stalk left.
Step 3: Slice the stalk lengthwise several times until you are left with thin strips. Then bundle the strips together and chop them finely.
Step 4: In a shallow dish, combine the lemongrass, coconut aminos, maple syrup, and garlic.
Step 5: Cut the pressed tofu into cubes and mix them with the marinade. Marinate for 30 minutes (or overnight).
Step 6: Preheat the oven to 400 F (200 C). Add the marinated tofu, in a single layer, to a baking dish or baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake for 30 minutes until slightly brown and firm.
Baking time depends on how big the tofu pieces are. Use 30 minutes as a guide, flipping the pieces after 15 minutes.
Want to make tofu even crispier? Before adding it to the baking dish, add a tablespoon of cornstarch or tapioca starch. Bake as directed. Mix it into the tofu cubes until it is dissolved.
Air Fryer Instructions: You can easily make this lemongrass tofu recipe in the air fryer. Preheat the air fryer to 375 F, and then add the tofu in a single layer to the air fryer basket. Pour the remaining marinade over the tofu pieces. Air fry the tofu for 8 minutes, flip it and air fry it another 6-8 minutes until golden brown.
Add a teaspoon of grated fresh ginger to the marinade. Other optional ingredients include sesame seeds in the marinade or as a garnish. Add a tablespoon of rice vinegar or lemon juice to the marinade for a more sour flavor.
What to serve with lemongrass tofu
Our favorite way to serve lemongrass tofu is in wild rice salad or over rice noodles with a swig of lime juice and soy sauce. It makes a tasty addition as a main to stir-fried veggies or just onions and bell peppers. Serve over brown or jasmine rice and chopped green onions. A fresh and healthy main course everyone will love!
Storage / Freezing / Reheating
Store leftover lemongrass tofu in an airtight container for 4-5 days. You can also freeze it for up to 3 months.
Frequently Asked Questions
Lemongrass can be found in larger supermarkets or an Asian market. It often comes in sealed packages of 2 or more stalks. If you buy lemongrass paste, check that it is just lemongrass and not packed with sesame oil or other ingredients.
Lemongrass powder is a good substitution for fresh lemongrass. Be aware that the flavor of powdered lemongrass is more intense, so use half the amount.
It’s easy to transform our basic 5-ingredient lemongrass chili tofu or just a bit of heat by adding chili flakes, finely diced red chili peppers, or ground chilies to the marinade. You can also add ½ a teaspoon (or more) of Sriracha or another chili sauce, depending on how hot you like it.
It is possible to dry fry tofu in a non-stick pan or skillet. Heat the pan over medium-high heat before adding the tofu. As you fry the tofu, use a wooden spoon to press on it, so the middle compresses. This is easiest with tofu slices rather than cubes.