Thai Food

Laab tofu


This is a popular dish from Issan, north-east Thailand and it’s usually made with minced meat this version is made with tofu and some mushrooms. It’s  a spicy dish so best eaten with sticky rice and fresh vegetables to temper the kick. Adjust the spice to your liking and aim for a balance of flavours. It takes a little preparation but is pretty easy to make. If you eat eggs then it’s good with either hard boiled eggs or a Thai omelette.

So what do you need?

  • 300g firm tofu
  • 150g mushrooms (I used Thai straw mushrooms)
  • 2tbsp toasted rice
  • 1cm galangal
  • 4 small red shallots
  • 4 spring onions
  • a few culantro (pak chii farang) leaves
  • a small bunch of mint
  • 2 limes
  • 3 – 4 tbsp. light (mushroom) soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp sesame oil
  • 1-2 tsp hot chilli powder
  • a few dry chillis (for decoration)
  • some lettuce leaves
  • a chopped cucumber
  • a bunch of Thai sweet basil
  • some blanched green beans

So what do you do?

Start by toasting the rice in a wok. Put 2 heaped tbsp. of rice in a wok on a medium heat and toast it, stirring occasionally, until it starts to brown and starts to give off a nutty aroma. Put this in a mortar and grind it into a powder, which will have a lovely nutty smell ad flavor, and set aside. Cut the galangal root into about 4 slices / disks and also toast these until they are golden brown and then pound these in a mortar and set aside. Next crumble the tofu with your fingers into a bowl and add 1 tbsp. of light soy sauce and mix it up and leave it. Dice up the mushrooms and steam them for a few minutes, or cook them for a minute or so in some boiling water and drain them. Peel and finely slice the shallots, chop up the spring onions, chop up the culantro leaves and pick a handful of mint leaves off their stems. Now put a little (sesame) oil in your wok and quickly fry the dried chillis to crispen them up and put them to one side. Next put the tofu and mushrooms in the wok and fry them for a few minutes stirring so they don’t stick. You want to cook them so that they dry out a little. They will be crumbly and start to brown a little. Put the tofu and mushrooms in a mixing bowl add 3 tbsp. light soy sauce, the juice of one lime, 2 tbsp. toasted rice, about 1 tbsp. of pounded galangal, 1 tsp chilli powder, the shallots, onions, mint and culantro and mix everything up. It will probably be quite dry so add some warm water, you want the dish to have some juice. Taste and adjust the seasoning you might need more chilli, or a little more lime or more soy sauce. You want to balance these flavours, spicy, sour and salty. The chilli powder I have at the moment seems very spicy so I use it quite sparingly so adjust the flours until you are happy. Remember that you will be eating it with rice which will help balance the heart too. Serve on a bed of lettuce and garnish with some mint leaves and your dried chillis which will allow people to up the spice if they like by crumbling it on their laab.





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