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Lemon Grass-Coconut Tofu

4 Servings

25 minutes

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Tofu and turmeric team up in this one-pan meal bursting with Southeast Asian flavors. We start by cubing tofu, coating it in spices, then frying it to a crisp brown. The blender quickly pulls together an aromatic tomato-lemon grass paste that we combine with coconut milk to make a rich sauce. Cilantro, both stems and leaves, adds herbal contrast while fish sauce and chili-garlic sauce contribute savory heat. We found that extra-firm tofu had the best texture, but firm tofu worked well, too. To make the dish vegetarian, substitute an equal amount of soy sauce for the fish sauce. Serve with steamed jasmine rice.




Don't stir the tofu immediately after adding it to the skillet; the pieces stick to the surface until they develop a crust on the bottom. Once that happens, after about 3 minutes, the pieces will release easily. And be sure to use a nonstick pan.

25 minutes


  • 1

    teaspoon ground turmeric

  • Kosher salt and ground black pepper


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April 7, 2024
Enjoyed this a lot - I added pre-baked tofu which made it very quick to pull together.
Susan P.
May 4, 2023
Wonderfully delicious
I made this for my daughter and we loved it. Couldn't find any lemongrass and used lemon zest instead. I doubled the coating for the tofu as I used it all up on the first container. All finished, the flavor was outstanding and delicious. Will try lemongrass next time I can find it in the store. Thank you!
Linda W.
November 26, 2022
This was fabulous! I pressed the tofu (my tofu press is one of my favorite kitchen tools) before cubing, and increased the fish sauce a tad. Thank you so much for this recipe.
Hannah H.
May 29, 2022
Wonderful vegetarian mainstay. Was able to reduce lemongrass to 2 stalks without compromising on flavor.
Mindy U.

This recipe is fantastic. I made it vegan with soy sauce instead of fish sauce, and it is hands down my favorite tofu dish ever in my life. Thank you!

stephanie e.

I wish I could say I loved this dish as I do almost every Milk Street recipe I follow. Unfortunately, the sauce was an unappealing color, not very flavorful and became quite pasty and thick. The lemongrass flavor which is so lovely was really masked by the tomatoes. Perhaps some ginger and tamarind would have helped with less coconut milk. I did follow the recipe as written but the family agreed with all my comments above. Wonder if you have some suggestions...

Andre G.

Great dish. Substituted lemongrass for 2 tablespoons of lemongrass paste and used light coconut milk. Came out great.

Mark M.

This is DELICIOUS! We have made this at least 5x, follow the recipe exactly, and can’t get enough! Makes great leftovers too!

Sally S.

Another great MS recipe. We cut the recipe in half and it worked just fine. Nice flavor.

Yaoli Y.

Very delicious! Steps are simple and easy to follow but it took time to sear the tofu on each side. But the extra time was worth it!

Rachal C.

I will skip the chili-garlic sauce until the end next time. I found it to overwhelm the more subtle lemongrass.

Margaret F.

We loved this recipe and can see cooking chicken or shrimp with the lemongrass sauce as well. Delicious!

Christine D.

All I can say is WOW! I love to eat vegan and don't really gravitate to tofu but this is amazing! I only had one block of tofu so I used one can of jack fruit as a sub. Mine turned out a bit salty but nothing a little sugar couldn't balance out. I happened to have a bunch of lemongrass to use up so this just could not have been more perfect!

Luba B.

Love it!!! I will double the sauce next time and freeze. I think try to make it with shrimp.
Thank you!

Diana L.

It was just ok. I didn't have chili garlic sauce. No grocery store had it so not sure maybe it was a key ingredient? My family gave it 3.5 stars.