Thursday, June 21, 2012

chilli tofu recipe

chilli tofu

It's freezing today. I mean proper finger numbing, toe aching, shiver-inducing cold as cold can be. Perth is the craziest place of extremes, hot as hell in summer and then just as freezing as back home in NZ in the wintertime?! That's why I enjoy spring and autumn so much, give me mild any day.

When most people would simply reach for another jumper to put on, light the fire or switch on the heater I tend to think about ways to heat myself up from the inside out... with chilli. It's no surprise that I am a big chilli fan and I try to sneak them into as many dishes as I can throughout the year, but it is in winter that I really appreciate the heat they bring.

chilli tofu paste chilli tofu tofu

This dish is rather straight forward and the kind of thing I like to cook for myself when the kids are at school. One pan, loads of flavour and with a lovely chilli kick to warm my belly. Serve over brown rice to make a meal out of it and any leftovers will store nicely in the fridge for a day or so. 

chilli tofu

chilli tofu
I've kept this vegan, but if you do eat fish; a few teaspoons of fish sauce added at the end will liven things up. This recipe can easily be doubled to feed a crowd. If there are nut allergies in your family, use a neutral oil like rice bran oil in place of the peanut.
serves 2 as a main with rice or 4 as part of a larger meal.

  • 3 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
  • 2cm piece of ginger, peeled and finely grated
  • 2 spring onions, white part only
  • 1 long Thai red chilli, roughly chopped 
  • 350g firm non GMO tofu, patted dry and cut into 2cm cubes
  • 3 tablespoons peanut oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1/4-1/2 cup water or vegetable stock
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 2 teaspoons natural raw sugar
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • juice of 1/2 lime
  • cooked brown rice, to serve
  • coriander (cilantro) leaves, to garnish, optional

Make a paste with the garlic, ginger, spring onion and chilli by either blending in a small food processor or pounding in a mortar and pestle. Add a little water if blending in processor to help get things going.

Heat oil in a large frying pan over med-high heat, add tofu cubes and fry, turning to evenly brown on all sides. Remove tofu from the pan and scrape out any little crispy bits that make be stuck to the bottom of the pan. Add paste to the frying pan, turn down to low and cook, stirring often for a good 5 minutes, adding a touch of water/stock if needed to keep things from burning. Add tofu back into the pan and stir to coat with chilli paste. Add turmeric, 1/4 cup water/stock, salt and sugar and continue to cool over low heat, constantly stirring and adding more water as needed for a further 5 minutes. You want this to be a fairly dry mixture, but go ahead and add more water/stock if needed so that you can cook out the raw onion taste without burning the mixture, the liquid will evaporate quickly anyway. Season well with sea salt and black pepper to taste and squeeze over fresh lime juice. Serve hot, on cooked brown rice, scattered with coriander (cilantro) leaves.


  1. It was freezing in Perth this morning as I walked to work but now it's all warm and sunny. We are having such strange weather this year.

    I love eating tofu and I'm always looking for new ways to cook it. When I try cooking this I am going to add more stock so that I can make a little sauce to go over my rice.


    1. Sounds like a great idea! I've been cold all day, can't seem to warm up even in the sun? xx

  2. Your Perth sounds like our Brisbane today. Well, at least inside the house. Outside was deep blue winter sky and sun, always warm. I've been wrapping myself up in tofu recipes of late. It's great to have another one as yummy sounding as this!

    1. Yep, inside the house definitely way colder than out here today too!

  3. I just can't believe it is cold in Perth..a cool 18C maybe Love all the flavours in this dish

    1. Haha, I knew at least one of my lovely NZ ladies would comment on that ;-) It was around 15 C today. Way cooler than I like but yes, maybe not quite as cold as I hear it's been in NZ this past week or so... (p.s I'm a wuss when it comes to winter!)

  4. All those flavours sound so good. I love the idea of using chilli as a natural heating system! Fair enough too, I know it works!

  5. Dear Emma,
    I live in Ireland it's crazy here too. Winter and autum weather for about 10 months a year with a month each of spring and summer. My top tips for keeping warm. 1. Chai tea made with Ginger. 2 cayenne pepper in your shoes. You can google this to check im not joking. 3. Massage for 15mins pure sesame oil all over and jump in hot shower, this warms the joints and seals in heat. Ancient Indian regime that is part of Ayuveda. 4. Avoid damp foods that keep the body cold and sluggish such as cold juices, yoghurts, bananas just in winter :) ect... You can google a list. 5.Sauna is amazing for warming you up and making you feel so great. 6. Fresh Ginger grated into hot foot bath is bliss. Hope these help. I love to make Tom yum soup in winter but I prefer to make it with carrots and sweet potato than tomatoes and mushrooms. :) bye.

  6. Such a great classic! :) I love chilli tofu, it feels so good in the heat of summer to have something light to munch on. They make for amazing snacks too!
    I understand the crazy weather you're talking about: in Bordeaux, you can have as much as a 20°C temperature difference during the day. One hour it's warm and sunny, and the next hour the streets are just flooded because of a storm. You don't know what to eat or what to wear. :(

  7. Wow, this dish looks amazing! The flavors sound so soothing and hearty. I love the idea of a one pot dish that has so many great flavors going on. This is definitely a great way to eat tofu packed full of flavor!

  8. This looks amazing! Although I now cook & eat tof often, I don't often explore with different flavours (beyond the usual stir-fry asian inspired mixes). I am going to give this a go - thank you! x

  9. Minus 5 on Friday, we beat you guys! This recipe sounds perfect for heating from the inside out, yummo!

  10. Hey there Emma, this looks like a nice spicy one dish meal to me. Yum!
    How do you get your tofu so nice and crispy? I always pat it dry, but it still seems to crumble etc. Yours looks just right:)

    1. First up, make sure you use firm tofu. I find a cast iron pan is the best to cook it in, use enough oil to cover the pan evenly, leave it cooking on med-high for a good 3-4+ minutes either side until really golden before you turn, this gives it a nice crispy crust and helps keep it together. And I use a little palette knife to turn each individual piece (pain I know), because I find if you use a egg flip/metal spatula it sometimes leaves behind the crispy outer layer on the bottom of the pan! Hope that helps? xx

  11. I'll add this to our list. Sadly the kids can't handle chilli just yet (at least not in the quantities the adults like) so I will have to tone that part down (or give them something else for dinner). Sounds yum!

  12. We had this for dinner last night - was delicious. Sadly I found the coriander, all nicely chopped, sitting in the kitchen when I went to do the dishes afterwards!

  13. Scared of tofu, I have to admit. :)

  14. I already made this dish a couple of times. We love it, thanks for sharing. With that recipe I am able to use my precious chillies I grew this summer on the balcony. Greetings from Berlin


Thanks so much for stopping by, arohanui xx Emm

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