Spicy lemongrass tofu

Our Philippine friends, the Pampos, were regular Saturday Market vendors who brought us a bounty of fresh herbs and greens from their family plot in Algiers, on the West Bank of the Mississippi River. Lemongrass, cilantro, parsley, and green onions—the familiar and the exotic could all be found in their market booth. Mr. and Mrs. Pampo were forced to relocate to Baton Rouge after Hurricane Katrina severely damaged their home and garden, but we hope to see our friends at market again one day. In the meantime, we honor them with this spicy entrée. 


  • 2 lemongrass stalks
  • 1-1/2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh poblano peppers
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried chile flakes
  • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 12 ounces tofu, drained, patted dry and cut into 3/4-inch cubes
  • 4 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided
  • 1/2 yellow onion, cut into 1/8-inch slices
  • 2 shallots, thinly sliced
  • 1 teaspoon minced fresh garlic
  • 4 tablespoons chopped roasted peanuts, divided (see note)
  • 10 pepper leaves, shredded, or 2/3 cup loosely packed Asian basil leaves
  • hot steamed rice


Peel outer layers from lemongrass and finely chop the bottom white part (you should have about 1/4 cup). In a bowl, combine lemongrass, soy sauce, poblano, sugar, chile flakes, turmeric, and salt; mix well. Add tofu and turn to coat cubes evenly. Set aside to marinate for 30 minutes.

Heat half of the oil in a 12-inch nonstick skillet over moderately high heat. Add onion, shallots, and garlic; sauté and stir for about 1 minute or until fragrant. Reduce heat to low and cook for about 3 minutes or until onion is soft. Transfer to a plate and keep warm.

Wipe the pan clean and heat the remaining oil over moderate heat. Add tofu mixture and cook for 4 or 5 minutes, turning with chopsticks or wooden spoons so tofu cooks evenly. Add onion mixture and cook uncovered for another 2 to 3 minutes. Add half of the peanuts and all of the pepper leaves.

Remove from heat and transfer to a serving plate. Garnish with remaining peanuts and serve immediately with rice.

Note: To prepare roasted peanuts, preheat oven to 325 degrees. Remove skins from one cup of raw shelled peanuts, then spread nuts in a single layer on a baking sheet. Bake at 325 degrees for about 20 minutes or until golden. About halfway through the baking, shake pan gently so the peanuts will roast evenly. Remove from oven and cool. Coarsely chop roasted nuts with a mortar and pestle, a food processor, or a knife.

Serves 4-6

Recipe contributed by market shopper

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Market Umbrella


Market Umbrella is an independent nonprofit 501(c)(3), based in New Orleans, whose mission is to cultivate the field of public markets for public good. Market Umbrella has operated the Crescent City Farmers Markets (CCFM) since 1995.

Crescent City Farmers Market


The Crescent City Farmers Market operates weekly year-round in four New Orleans neighborhoods. The CCFM hosts nearly 80 local small farmers, fishers and food producers, and more than 100,000 shoppers annually.