This Spicy Thai Basil Tofu is one of my go-to meals when I need an easy dinner for my family. The recipe is quick, delicious, vegan, and flavorful.
This is a version of Pad KraPao that I made with homegrown Thai Basil. Have you tried Pad KraPao before? It’s a very popular stir-fry dish that you may have seen on the menu of most Thai restaurants here in the States.
Pad translates to stir-fry and KraPao is Holy Basil. Just by the name of it, you’ll know it’s an aromatic and flavorful dish with this fragrant herb, Holy Basil. I tried Holy Basil when I was in Chiangmai last year and fell in love.
I must admit, it’s not easy for me to find fresh Holy Basil here but I love to use Thai basil in a lot of my dishes such as in this delicious Three-cup or San Bei Tofu.
My family is fond of Thai Basil so we have started to grow them in our garden which is the best decision ever! That being said, this recipe is similar to Pad KraPao but since I am using Thai basil, I’ve named it Spicy Thai Basil Tofu.
How to make Spicy Basil Tofu
Step 1: Mix all the sauces ingredients together in a bowl and set aside.
Step 2: Heat a non-stick pan and mash tofu until crumbly. Stir continuously until the tofu is slightly dry. Then, add 1 tablespoon of oil and continue to cook until the tofu turns golden brown. At this point, tofu crumbles will start to bounce from the pan, which shows that they are dry enough.
Step 3: Push tofu aside, add the chopped shallots, and sauté until translucent. Then add garlic and chili to the shallots, mix with the tofu, and toss until well combined.
Step 4: Slowly pour in the sauce and season with sugar if needed. Add the Thai Basil and give the mixture a final toss until all ingredients are incorporated. Turn off the heat and serve warm.
1. Basil – as mentioned above, I used Thai Basil, but if you can find Holy Basil, definitely use that. If you can’t find either, sweet Basil will be a great substitute for this dish.
2. Chili – I used Thai chili in this recipe but any chili will work; for a less spicy dish, please omit this ingredient.
3. Fish sauce – Store-bought or homemade version works great in this recipe. As the saltiness varies by brands, please adjust other sauces accordingly or use this simple Easy 5-minute Vegan ‘Fish’ Sauce.
It is one of my go-to sauces especially when I need to add that umami punch in a lot of my Thai and Vietnamese dishes. So, give it a try and I highly recommend making a big batch of it and save for later use.
4. Spices – Shallots and garlic play a big part in this dish to give it a touch of sweetness. I love to use fresh spices in my cooking but you can use the dry version if you prefer such as onion granules and garlic powder.
How to serve Spicy Thai Basil Tofu
I make this recipe often and love it as one of the dishes for our dinner that I normally serve with rice. Other options include sandwich filling or as a side dish for this Steamed Buns.
Cooking Tips and Variations
How to prepare the tofu? I mashed the tofu in a non-stick pan without any oil, then, cook it until slightly dry, by stirring continuously. This step is to remove as much moisture as possible from the tofu which in return makes it more absorbent for the sauces later. Then, add some oil to the pan and continue to cook tofu until golden brown.
What if I can’t have tofu? You can always substitute it with seitan, or mashed chickpeas, or tofu made from pumpkin seeds or chickpeas. These are great alternatives that complement the sauce perfectly. For chickpeas, just replace the tofu in the recipe with a can of 15.5oz chickpeas or preferred amount of seitan.
Can I make this dish gluten-free? Definitely! Just replace the soy sauce and other sauces to a gluten-free one.
This Spicy Thai Basil Tofu is
- Super easy to make
- Vegan and dairy-free
- Easily customizable
- Great as sandwich’s filling or side dish for Steamed Buns
- all done in 1-pan
If you try this recipe, I would love to hear your feedback and see your beautiful re-creation. Leave me a comment, rate it, and tag @woon.heng and #woonheng to your photos on Instagram or Facebook. Happy cooking, friends!
Spicy Thai Basil Tofu
- 14 oz [397g] firm tofu pressed
- 1 large shallot chopped (about 3 tablespoons)
- 6 cloves garlic finely chopped (about 2 tablespoons)
- 2 Thai chilies chopped
- 1 cup packed Thai Basil leaves
- oil for cooking salt to taste
- Mix the sauce ingredients in a mixing bowl until well-combined and set aside.
- In a heated non-stick pan, add the tofu in and using a potato masher, mash tofu into crumbles.
- Cook the tofu crumbles until slightly dry. Then, add about 1 tablespoon of oil and continue to cook until tofu turns golden brown.
- Push tofu aside, and add a little more oil and sauté shallots until translucent.
- Continue to sauté garlic and chili for another 30 – 45 seconds. Then, bring all the mixture together and give it a quick stir.
- Add in the sauce and sugar and cook down the mixture a little.
- Finally, add the Thai basil and toss everything until all incorporated.
- Turn off the heat and serve warm.
- Vegan ‘fish’ sauce – store-bought or use this Easy 5-minute Vegan ‘Fish’ Sauce. If using store-bought, taste test as you go as some brands’ sodium level is higher than others. [added notes 1/27/22] If you are unsure about the saltiness of the sauce you have mixed, please add half the sauce before and taste test as you are making the dish.
- Dark soy sauce in this recipe is for color which I used the thick version, please see video for the texture.
- Cornstarch substitution – Since this ingredient act as a thickening agent, arrowroot starch, tapioca starch, or potato starch can be used instead.