"In Vietnam, a wooden chopstick is used to work out whether a pan of oil is hot enough for frying. Put the chopstick into the oil: when small bubbles rise to the surface, the temperature is just right. Make sure you drain the tofu and thoroughly pat dry with paper towel before frying it, or the oil will spit when you add the tofu." ~ Tracey Lister & Andreas Pohl.
5 lemongrass stems, white part only
1 long red chilli, seeded
4 kaffir lime leaves, thinly sliced
500 g (1 lb 2 oz) firm tofu
Vegetable oil, for deep-frying
1/3 tsp salt
Using a sharp knife, thinly cut the lemongrass stems, on an angle, into 2 cm ( 3/4 inch) lengths. Do the same with the chilli, then mix together with the kaffir lime and set aside.
Cut the tofu into 4 cm (1 1/2 inch) cubes and pat dry with paper towel. Heat about 5 cm (2 inches) of oil in a wok or deep frying pan to 180°C (350°F), or until a cube of bread dropped into the oil browns in 15 seconds.
Fry the tofu in batches for 2–4 minutes, until lightly golden and crisp on the outside. Remove the tofu from the oil and drain on paper towel before arranging on a platter.
Pour out two-thirds of the frying oil and return the wok, with the remaining oil, to the heat. Add the lemongrass and chilli mixture, stirring constantly so it colours evenly. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towel. Sprinkle with the salt.
Scatter the fried lemongrass, kaffir lime and chilli mixture over the tofu and serve immediately.
Credits: This is an edited extract from Made In Vietnam by Tracey Lister & Andreas Pohl published by Hardie Grant Books RRP $39.99 and is available in stores nationally.
Photo Credits: This is an edited extract from Made In Vietnam by Tracey Lister & Andreas Pohl published by Hardie Grant Books RRP $39.99 and is available in stores nationally.