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This tender and juicy tofu is infused with plenty of lemongrass, garlic, and chili. It’s citrusy, spicy, and garlicky! Just 9 ingredients and 45 minutes to prepare this delicious plant-based side!

Close up of lemongrass tofu with chili and garlic.

📘 What Is Lemongrass Tofu

Called “đậu hũ chiên sả ớt” in Vietnamese, this dish consists of fried tofu that is coated with minced lemongrass, garlic, and chili. It is often served as a topping with rice or as a side with sautéed vegetables.

There are two versions of lemongrass tofu. The first one is served dry with sautéed lemongrass and chili, while the second one comes with a sauce. Here, we will be making the second one, which, in my opinion, tastes better as it yields much juicier tofu.

Ingredients like tofu, lemongrass, shallots, garlic, and soy sauce.

🥣 How to Make It

Preparing this tofu will take you about 45 minutes and requires just 9 ingredients:

  • Tofu – Preferably medium tofu if you want a tender and chewy texture. Extra-firm would not yield a pleasant texture.
  • Lemongrass – You can use fresh lemongrass stalks or frozen minced lemongrass.
  • Garlic and shallots
  • Chili – Optional, to bring some heat. If using, I recommend using about one-half of a Thai chili, also known as Bird’s eye chili.
  • Soy sauce – For saltiness and umami. Feel free to use coconut aminos if you want
  • Oyster sauce – Make sure you are using the vegan type. You can find vegan oyster sauce online, in Asian supermarkets, or check out this vegan oyster sauce recipe to make your own.
  • Sugar – To balance the saltiness and the spiciness.
  • Oil – To fry the tofu and sauté the lemongrass. Use a neutral oil like sunflower, canola, or grapeseed oil.
Fried tofu in a skillet.

Let’s start by frying the tofu until golden brown. You can start with white tofu or pre-fried tofu. If you use blocks of fried tofu, that will simplify the process. Then, you will only need to pan-fry it on the cut sides.

Note: You can cut the tofu into thicker cubes, but I personally prefer cutting the tofu thinly so it absorbs more of the sauce.

Fried tofu slices in a skillet.

Once your tofu is golden brown, transfer it to a plate lined with kitchen paper towels to remove excess oil.

It’s now time to sauté the aromatics! Sauté the minced lemongrass, garlic, shallots, and chili, if using, for 2-3 minutes or until fragrant.

Next, add the fried tofu back to the skillet and season with the soy sauce, sugar, vegan oyster sauce, and water. Let the tofu simmer in the sauce for 5-7 minutes to let it absorb the flavors. Done!

🍚 What to Serve It With

  • On top of rice: This lemongrass tofu is delicious served on a bed of steamed white rice. I personally love to serve it with this Clay Pot Rice.
  • In bánh mì or sandwich: It’s a great addition to sandwiches or bánh mì if you want to add meatiness, protein, and flavor.
  • In salads: Slice it into thin strips and add it to green salads, quinoa salads, or even tabbouleh!
Fried tofu simmering in a lemongrass and chili sauce.


Which type of tofu works best?

Medium or firm tofu will yield the best texture. Do not use silken or extra-firm tofu for this recipe.

Can I use frozen lemongrass?

Definitely! If you want to save time, simply replace the lemongrass stalk with about 3 tablespoons of minced lemongrass.

Is this tofu dish spicy?

If using the recommended amounts of 1/2 Thai chili, this dish is mildly spicy. You can omit the chili or use one whole if you prefer it to be spicier.

How long does lemongrass tofu keep?

You can keep this tofu for up to 3 days in the refrigerator. Moreover, you can enjoy it chilled or reheated in a pan over medium heat.

Close-up of a slice of lemongrass tofu.

Say goodbye to bland tofu; this recipe is a must-try! It’s not only easy to make but also delicious and great for meal prep!

⭐️ Did you like this recipe? Let us know in the comments below, and tag us on Facebook, Instagram, or Pinterest!

Sautéed tofu with lemongrass, garlic, and chili, in a plate.
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Easy Lemongrass Tofu

4.67 from 3 votes
Author: Thomas Pagot
Tender and juicy tofu sautéed in a citrusy and spicy lemongrass sauce! Serve with steamed white rice or sautéed vegetables. With just 9 ingredients and 45 minutes to prepare!
Prep Time : 30 minutes
Cook Time : 15 minutes
Total Time : 45 minutes
Servings 2 servings (as a side)
Calories 252 kcal


  • 1/4 cup oil
  • 8 ounces firm tofu sliced into 1-inch thick rectangles
  • 1 tbsp oil
  • 1 shallot minced
  • 2 cloves of garlic minced
  • 2 lemongrass stalks* finely minced (about 3 tbsp minced)
  • 1 small Thai chili optional
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp vegan oyster sauce
  • 1/4 cup water


  • Heat the oil in a large non-stick skillet over medium heat. Once hot, add the tofu slices and fry for 5-7 minutes on each side or until golden brown. Depending on the type and brand of tofu used, this step can take a bit longer.
  • Once golden brown, transfer the tofu to a plate lined with kitchen paper towels to remove excess oil. Set aside.
  • Heat one tablespoon of oil in a non-stick skillet over medium heat. Once hot, add the minced shallots, garlic, lemongrass, and chili if using. Sauté for 2-3 minutes or until fragrant.
  • Next, add the fried tofu slices to the skillet and stir to coat the tofu with the aromatics.
  • Pour in the soy sauce, sugar, vegan oyster sauce, and water. Bring to a simmer and let simmer for 5-7 minutes, stirring from time to time. The sauce should have reduced by now, and most of it will have been absorbed by the tofu.
  • Serve immediately with white rice, quinoa, or sautéed vegetables! This lemongrass tofu will keep for up to 3 days in the refrigerator.


  • To prepare the lemongrass stalks: cut off the leaves (about 2/3 of the stalk) and discard them. Peel the outer layer of leaves; these are usually too dry to be used. Next, slice the stalk into quarters lengthwise before chopping it thinly.
  • If you want to save time: use frozen minced lemongrass. You will want to use about 3 tablespoons of minced lemongrass.
  • Nutritional information is just an estimate.


Serving: 1 serving | Calories: 252 kcal | Carbohydrates: 8.7 g | Protein: 10.6 g | Fat: 20.9 g | Saturated Fat: 3.1 g | Sodium: 943 mg | Potassium: 265 mg | Fiber: 1.2 g | Sugar: 3.5 g | Calcium: 240 mg | Iron: 3 mg
Course : Entree, Side Dish
Cuisine : Asian, Vietnamese
Did you make this recipe? Tag @fullofplants on Instagram and hashtag it #fullofplants
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About the Author

Thomas Pagot is the founder, photographer, and recipe developer behind Full of Plants. He created the blog in 2016 as a personal cookbook for vegan recipes. Through years of recipe development, Thomas has successfully grown Full of Plants into a trusted resource for plant-based recipes.

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5 stars
Why does this look so mouth-watering? Can you stop posting such tasty dishes! 😜
I think my husband would love it. Can’t wait to cook for him tonight 😊
Thanks for the recipe!!!

4 stars
Do you have any tips for keeping tofu from sticking in the pan? I stopped using Teflon and have stainless steel pans, which work great for pretty much everything except tofu, which always sticks to the bottom no matter how much oil I add. Thanks.

Do you think this could be done with dried lemongrass? it’s a bit difficult to source the fresh kind in my area.

5 stars
Just did this recipe today, and used it in bánh mì. I confess that I couldn’t stop with one bánh mì and had two large sandwiches in one meal.

Lucky for me, the international markets in this area sell the frozen minced lemongrass, making the prep super easy.

And now I have more slices left from the recipe, to use with another meal (I’m thinking forbidden rice? or bánh xeo?).

A note about those dry outer layers of the lemon grass stalks – you can chop them up and make a lovely hot tea with just them, or add to any other herbs or tea leaves. Enjoy hot or over ice.