Our family is tofu lovers, so our tofu recipes have been growing nicely over the years. If you need a new tofu recipe, do give this tahu goreng sambal sereh – fried tofu with spicy lemongrass relish a try.
If you can buy freshly fried tofu cubes in side street or supermarket, the only thing you need to do is to prepare the spicy relish.
Fried Tofu Cubes
If you need to prepare fried tofu cubes on your own, the most important thing to remember is to properly drain as much liquid as possible from the tofu.
Since this is a super important step, you can even buy tofu presser to do this step for you.
But, I usually just wrap firm tofu with paper towel, sandwich between two plates and place my heavy cast iron skillet on top.
I recommend letting the tofu drain for at least 30 minutes, though I usually leave them for one hour.
Once it is drained, simply cut the tofu into cubes, sprinkle with salt and pepper, coat with flour, and pan fry until golden brown.
Spicy Lemongrass Relish
This spicy relish is simple to make as long as you have the ingredients. The spices include lemongrass, shallot, garlic, red Thai bird eye chilies, and for the seasoning, salt and pepper.
Heat oil in a frying pan and sauté thinly sliced lemongrass, shallot, chilies, and minced garlic.
Once it is fragrant, season with salt and pepper. Arrange fried tofu cubes in a plate and top with the spicy lemongrass relish.
Spicy lemongrass roast chicken. These roast chicken are very flavorful, and cooked in a cast-iron skillet from stove top to oven. Super easy and you will want to make them again and again and again.
What’s in the marinade?
Let me start listing the ingredients for the marinating sauce. You need chilies (I use 2 bird eyes, you can use any red chilies of your choice), garlic, shallot (or onion), lemongrass, and kaffir lime leaves (or lime zest).
You will also need oil, sugar, fish sauce, and oyster sauce.
Simply blitz away everything in a food processor, then mix this with skin-on bone-in chicken thighs.
The minimum marinating time is 2 hours, but if you have the time, please leave it overnight for maximum flavors.
Oven proof skillet or pan
You will need a skillet or pan that can move from stove top to oven, and I highly prefer using a cast-iron skillet for job like this.
It is best if you can choose a pan that the chicken can fit quite comfortably, not too snug, and not too loose. A 10.25″ cast-iron pan is the best size for 4 chicken thighs.
Sear first, then into the oven
Cooking these chicken cannot be easier. Start by preheating your oven to 350 Fahrenheit (180 Celsius).
Once the oven is hot, heat 2 tablespoon of oil over medium high heat in a cast-iron skillet and place the chicken thighs skin-side down and sear for 5 minutes.
Turn off the stove, flip the chicken, then add all the remaining marinating sauce.
Bake (roast) in oven for 25 minutes, or just until the chicken is cooked.
Serving the roast chicken
Remove roast chicken from oven, tilt the pan so you can spoon sauce over the chicken.
Transfer to serving plate, garnish with thinly sliced scallions (and more chilies if you want).
I usually serve these roast chicken with steamed white rice.
Indonesia has many wedang (hot tea/hot drink) recipes, from more complicated wedang jahe with plenty of spices, to something much simpler like this wedang jahe sereh (ginger lemongrass tea).
Though usually translates to tea, not all wedang actually has any tea in it, such as this version. Instead, this wedang is made with only lemongrass and ginger! The lemongrass gives a decidedly fresh citrus grassy aroma while the ginger lends the hot spicy note.
This two ingredients wedang is simply perfect for the colder season, and will sure to bring you a big smile and warm up your body. This is also great for those nursing a cold. ♥
Lemongrass and ginger
To get the best tasting wedang, you will want to start with fresh ingredients, in this case, you will want:
Lemongrass should be available in most Asian grocery stores. They are usually in the produce section. Ginger is much easier to find as they are widely available in almost any grocery store, but your Asian grocery stores should have them as well.
How to store/freeze lemongrass
For those who need to travel quite a distance to reach the nearest Asian grocery stores, you can buy lemongrass in bulk and freeze them for longer storage. Here’s what I usually do:
remove the outer layers
chop away the top parts (about 4″)
chop away the bottom parts (about 1/2″)
wipe away any remaining dirt with a damp kitchen towel, the lemongrass should look like the photo above at this stage
store in a freezer-safe ziplock bag
If you use a gallon-size bag, you should be able to store the lemongrass as is once you go through the above steps. If you use a smaller bag, like a quart-size bag, you can cut each stalk into two to make it easier to store them. When you need some lemongrass for your recipes, simply grab the needed amount from your freezer and use directly without thawing.
How to use lemongrass in recipes
Lemongrass is very fragrant, almost like a lemon, but without any of the acidic property of a real lemon. To release as much of this lemony fragrance from lemongrass, you need to bruise it. Or in a gorier but yet more appropriate term, you want to whack the lemongrass, like really whack it.
Confession time, I cook so many dishes with lemongrass that I use my meat tenderizer more to whack lemongrass than to tenderize my meat. So, if you have a meat tenderizer sitting in your kitchen drawer somewhere, whacking some lemongrass is a great stress reliever, and of course, to release the lemon fragrance from lemongrass. 😀
How to prepare wedang jahe sereh
Preparing this traditional Indonesian lemongrass and ginger tea cannot be simpler. Simply place all ingredients in a small pot and bring to a boil. Then reduce the heat and simmer for another 10 minutes. And the drink is done! To serve, strain into individual tea cups. It is best to enjoy the drink while it is hot.
Trying other Indonesian wedang
If you love this tea, you may want to give other traditional Indonesian tea/wedang a try. Some of my favorites include:
There are many occasions where a good chicken wings dish is the perfect thing to serve, like a game day or summer BBQ, or just because. This lemongrass chicken wings recipe is one of my favorite wings recipe, and I make it so often it’s rather ridiculous.
And they can not be any easier. Make the marinating sauce in a food processor, marinate the wings overnight, then grill and serve. Easy peasy!
What’s in the lemongrass marinade
The marinating sauce is made with shallot, lemongrass, garlic, ginger, tamarind, turmeric powder, salt, sugar, and pepper.
Most of these should be self-explanatory, but I’ll go through some of the more exotic ingredients.
You can buy fresh stalks of lemongrass from an Asian market. If you live far away from one, you should know that you can buy them in bulk, clean them up, store in a freezer-safe ziplock bag, and freeze them. They will last for months and months.
And when you want to use them, simply remove the needed amount. Usually, they will have thawed in about 10 minutes, and are ready to be used.
Also, frozen and thawed lemongrass becomes much softer compared to fresh stalks. Meaning, frozen and thawed ones are actually much easier and gentler on your knife or chopper blade.
You can use either Chinese/Asian shallots or French shallots. Since shallot sizes vary a lot, it is best if you can follow the weight measurement.
I use wet seedless tamarind that comes in a see-through plastic packaging. Simply measure the needed amount and add water, then massage thoroughly to make a thick tamarind paste. Remember to strain before using to discard any seed or pulp.
Prepare the marinade for chicken wings
Once you have gathered all the necessary ingredients for the sauce, simply puree everything with a blender or a food processor into a smooth paste.
Combine chicken wings and the marinating sauce. Rest in the fridge for at least 2 hours, preferably overnight.
Cooking the chicken wings
You can cook these chicken wings with one of these methods:
on a stovetop with a cast-iron grill pan, or a cast-iron skillet
with a charcoal BBQ grill
bake/roast in an oven
For a basic kitchen that comes only with a stovetop, the first choice is the simplest way to go. Simply heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a cast-iron grill pan/skillet over medium-high heat, then cook the chicken wings until slightly charred. About 5 minutes per side.
In summer months when the weather is nice, you should really try grilling the wings over a charcoal BBQ grill. For me, this is the best option.
If you want a mess-free cooking experience, you can bake these in an oven too. Simply preheat the oven to 220 Celsius/425 Fahrenheit, place a wire rack over a baking sheet, arrange the wings on the rack and bake for 30 minutes, flip as needed.
Grilling is one of the best ways to enjoy pork chops, and this Vietnamese grilled lemongrass pork chop is one of my favorite pork chops recipes.
The combination of lemongrass, coconut palm sugar, and fish sauce is undeniably good. Every bite of the grilled pork is bursting with flavors and simply so satisfying. And when paired with some homemade nuoc cham (Vietnamese chili sauce), it is not difficult to see why this one of the most iconic Vietnamese dishes ever.
Ingredients for Vietnamese grilled lemongrass pork chops
We will need thinly sliced pork chops, lemongrass, shallot, garlic, coconut palm sugar, fish sauce, oil, ground white pepper, and salt.
Thinly sliced pork chops
My neighborhood grocery mostly stocks regular thick-cut pork chops, with an average thickness of around 1-inch. These 1-inch thick pork chops are simply too thick for our purpose, so I usually cut each slab into three thin slices.
If you need to do this as well, I highly suggest partially freezing the pork first. A quick 30 minute freezing time is usually enough to harden the pork and help with getting that even slices.
I use fresh lemongrass stalks in this recipe. I usually buy them by the dozen, then clean and freeze them by the whole stalks. They can last for months in the freezer, so I almost never run out of them.
If your market doesn’t sell fresh lemongrass, you can also use ground/pureed lemongrass, usually sold in the frozen section. I usually use 1 tablespoon of frozen ground lemongrass per fresh lemongrass stalk.
If you really can’t find lemongrass, the closest substitute is fresh lemon zest. I suggest zest of one lemon per lemongrass stalk.
Either smaller sized Asian/Chinese shallot or regular French shallot is fine. It is best to go with weight measurement, but it should be around 3 Asian/Chinese shallots, or 1 regular French shallot for this recipe.
Coconut palm sugar
My favorite coconut palm sugar is either Indonesian palm sugar (Indonesian: gula Jawa) or Malaysian gula Melaka. These usually come in a big block and needs to be chopped into smaller pieces. Lately, I have also spotted Indonesian palm sugar sold in granulated form, which is what I am using for this recipe.
You can also use Thai palm sugar, though I am not a big fan of the pale color. Another good choice is coconut palm sugar that is now very commonly found in mainstream grocery stores.
Preparing and grilling the pork
1. Prepare the marinating sauce
In a food processor, puree lemongrass (white part only), shallot, and garlic into a coarse paste. Transfer to a mixing bowl, stir in coconut palm sugar, fish sauce, oil, ground white pepper, and salt.
2. Marinate the pork chops
Add in the thinly sliced pork into the bowl of marinating sauce making sure to coat each slice of pork really well.
Set the pork aside in the fridge to marinate at least 2 hours and up to overnight. Remember to return to room temperature prior to grilling.
3. Grilling the pork chops
Heat a cast-iron grill pan on medium-high heat for 5 minutes. You can check if the pan is ready by flicking a few drops of water on to the grill pan. If the water evaporates quickly, it’s ready. Also, you don’t want the pan to be too hot, meaning you shouldn’t see smoke rising from the pan.
Dip a brush/paper towel in oil and rub the surface of the preheated grill pan to prevent food from sticking to the pan, then start placing the marinated pork onto the hot surface.
Since we have ensured to use thinly sliced pork chops, we should only need slightly under 2 minutes per side to fully cook the pork.
Prepare nuoc cham (Vietnamese chili sauce)
Like most steak or any piece of grilled meat, it is best to rest these grilled pork chops for 10 minutes prior to cutting or serving.
While the freshly grilled pork is resting, let’s prepare this homemade nuoc cham that goes perfectly with the pork.
To make nuoc cham, we will need sugar, lime/lemon, fish sauce, drinking water, birds-eye chilies, and garlic.
Mince the garlic and thinly slice the chilies, then mix all the ingredients together in a bowl. Stir until the sugar has completely dissolved.
How to serve Vietnamese grilled lemongrass pork chops
There are many ways to serve these pork chops. I usually serve these with steamed white rice, or as topping for Vietnamese rice noodles bowl.
If you are more of a sandwich person, you may have spotted these stuffed in your favorite Bahn mi sandwich too.
Another of my favorites is to use these as stuffing in Vietnamese rice paper rolls (spring rolls).
Whichever way you want to serve the grilled pork chops, be sure to also include the nuoc cham. The sauce is great with all the above options.
The days are longer now and we are quickly approaching summer. Days like these are best accompanied by light and refreshing meals that are quick to prepare and cook, such as this Thai lemongrass pork.
This light and refreshing dish with a hint of citrus from lemongrass and crunch and nuttiness from peanut is the perfect summer dish. It goes well with steamed white rice or vermicelli. You can even create a filling salad using seasonal vegetables! ♥
Ingredients for Thai lemongrass pork
We will need pork, lemongrass, scallions, garlic, red chilies, cilantro, peanuts, fish sauce, coconut palm sugar, salt, and pepper.
Please select pork cuts that are suitable for stir fry. I use pork tenderloin, but you can also use pork belly or pork shoulder.
For the red chilies, you can use bird eye chilies, cayenne, or Fresno. You can even use dried red chilies if you are out of fresh chilies.
Use toasted/roasted peanuts whenever possible, but don’t worry if you need to substitute with cashew nuts, almonds, or walnuts.
How to cook Thai lemongrass pork
Start by mixing pork, lemongrass, scallions, salt, and pepper. Set aside for 10-15 minutes.
Heat oil in a wok/frying pan over medium-high heat. Sauté pork mixture until the pork is no longer pink, about 2 minutes.
Add garlic and chilies. Stir to mix and continue cooking for another 2 minutes, or until the pork is fully cooked and tender.
Add chopped peanuts, fish sauce, and palm sugar. Toss to mix.
Turn off the heat. Transfer the dish to a serving plate. Garnish with freshly chopped cilantro. Serve with steamed white rice or lightly boiled vermicelli.
Some ideas on serving this dish
Most of the time, I serve this with steamed rice or lightly boiled vermicelli.
If you don’t wish for a heavy meal, you can create a filling salad with a fresh mix of seasonal vegetables topped with some Thai lemongrass pork.
You can also try making Vietnamese rolls using the pork as the main ingredients. Or perhaps make some appetizer with some lettuce wraps and filled with this lemongrass pork.
Eating rice for breakfast might be an alien concept for non-Asian, but this is not a strange concept for most Indonesians.
Whenever my Mom prepares rice for breakfast, it usually means nasi uduk with multiple dishes. One of the dishes are usually meat, such as fried chicken, beef rendang/chicken rendang, or occasionally, ayam sambal goreng sereh.
Today I will share my recipe for ayam sambal goreng sereh (chicken in spicy lemongrass sauce). The list of spices for this dish is much shorter compared to a rendang, but it still packs a punch and just as satisfying. Of course, you can serve this for lunch or dinner if having a heavy rice meal for breakfast is not for you. 😁
Ingredients for ayam sambal goreng sereh
1. Bone-in chicken with skin
First, we will need some bone-in chicken with skin. You can buy a whole chicken and cut it up into 8-12 pieces, or you can use about 4-5 chicken leg quarters and separate them into thighs and drumsticks.
Start with rubbing the chicken pieces with salt and turmeric. Set aside for 15 minutes.
2. Prepare spice paste
Grind garlic, shallot, galangal, red chilies, and the white part of lemongrass in a food processor or with a mortar and a pestle into a smooth paste.
3. Fry chicken
Heat about three tablespoons of oil in a wok over medium-high and fry the chicken until the skin is crispy and golden brown. It is okay for the chicken to be not 100% cooked. Set aside.
4. Sauté spice and lemongrass
In the same wok, fry the spice paste, turmeric, and the green part of lemongrass until fragrant. About 5 minutes.
5. Add chicken and the rest of the ingredients
Return fried chicken into the wok, along with coconut milk, tamarind liquid, salt, and coconut palm sugar. Mix well and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook until the sauce is very thick and the chicken is tender and cooked.
Turn it into a complete Indonesian rice meal
As I mention earlier, we usually serve this as part of a nasi uduk ensemble. If you would like to follow suit, you can try preparing some of these dishes and serve them all together.