When I get Thai takeout, I have a few “go-to”s, one of which is basil chicken. 2020 has been the year of learning to cook the meals I love to purchase at restaurants while we’ve been quarantining at home, which got me thinking, why not try to make it? I’ve also been trying to diversify how I cook with tofu so figured I’d start by making the tofu version of basil chicken. Yes, I know that many of you out there might not be huge tofu fans. I’ve decided to take this on as a challenge and find ways to expand tofu’s fan base. I hope this recipe is a start of that!
(Serves 2 with a bit leftover)
For the sauce-
- 4 tbs soy sauce
- 3 tsp lime (about 1 lime)
- 3 tsp brown sugar
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tsp sesame oil
- Optional- 1/4 tsp chili flakes
For the rest-
- 16 oz tofu (I use Trader Joe’s High Protein Super Firm*)
- 1.5 tbs corn starch
- Salt and pepper
- 1 tbs avocado or preferred cooking oil
- 1 zucchini, cut in half moons
- 1.5 bell pepper, cut in strips
- Handful carrots, slivered
- 1/4 onion, thinly sliced
- 1/2 cup fresh basil, roughly chopped
- Press tofu for 20 min. If you’re making rice, check the directions- you should probably start it now.
- In the meantime, do your prep! Stir fry moves fast and you want to be ready to go. Cut your zucchini, bell pepper, carrots, onion, and basil (but keep your basil separate from the other veggies). Put all your sauce ingredients in a bowl and stir.
- Once your tofu has pressed for at least 20 min, cut it in cubes and toss it in large bowl with cornstarch. Heat avo oil till gets very hot in large pan. Add tofu and let it crisp— cook for at least 10 min, flipping from time to time, so it gets crispy on all sides.
- After 10-15 minutes, add chopped veggies. Sauté for 5 minutes then add sauce. Cook for 2 more minutes then turn off heat (otherwise your veggies will get mushy and less colorful) and add basil. I served over brown rice.
*I actually do not use this tofu for the extra protein but because it makes the crispiest tofu. I hate soft, soggy tofu which is why I’m adamant on pressing it first. This tofu makes it even crispier! However, as a huge added bonus, this tofu does have 15 grams of protein PER SERVING (for context, there are 5 servings in a package and I use the whole package in my dish!)
To make this even more authentic, you could use Thai basil. This is harder to find in stores, but if you’re somewhere that has it– grab it!
What am I listening to as I make this? “Glory of Music II” by the Head and the Heart
What can I learn while I make this? The difference in Thai basil and “regular” (Italian) basil. The “basil” you buy in stores, unless marked otherwise, is likely Italian basil, which has more delicate leaves and a sweeter taste. The delicate leaves are why you throw it in at the end when cooking, like we do with this recipe. Thai basil, on the other hands, has sturdier leaves and a slightly more spicy, savory taste profile.
What else can I make with my basil? I’m so glad you asked because I hate having leftover herbs go bad! Here’s a few ideas:
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