A Thai-inspired lemongrass curry – packed with a rainbow of vegetables and crispy tofu – all made in one pan. Perfect for using up whatever veg you already have.
When you live in New York City, the restaurants in your neighborhood are one of the determinants of your quality of life. These turn out to be the places you frequent the most, ones where you can be a “regular”, ones that make you feel at home.
We’re lucky to have this amazing little Thai takeout spot just a few minutes away. Their food is solid and we order from there whenever we feel like treating ourselves a bit. It’s a literal hole in the wall, consisting of a tiny kitchen with several steaming woks, a grill top, and a cashier’s counter. (There are no tables.)
My usual order is their pad see ew, but on a recent weekend, when I was in the mood for something more veg-forward, I got their pad ta-krai – sautéed vegetables in a lemongrass sauce with tofu. I fell in love immediately. It was light, but satisfying, the fragrant lemongrass-turmeric sauce being the best part. Having never previously cooked with lemongrass myself, I got inspired to recreate the dish in my own kitchen.
This Thai-inspired lemongrass curry with tofu is an easy one-pot meal that’s packed with flavor. It’s a delicious way to clean out your fridge drawer, since you can use almost any veg you have on-hand. Let’s dive in!
What’s In This Lemongrass Curry
This easy vegan Thai-inspired curry has scallions, broccoli, green beans, mushrooms, carrots, and crispy tofu. The coconut milk sauce is flavored with lemongrass, ginger, garlic, chili flakes, turmeric, soy sauce, and lime juice.
Ingredient Notes and Substitutions
- Tofu: This vegan curry calls for the firmest tofu you can get, which is usually “extra firm”. Nasoya’s “super firm” is even better, if you can find it, because it doesn’t need to be pressed.
- Vegetables: Although I highly recommend you make the recipe as is, feel free to swap in whatever veg you already have – like onion, cauliflower, snow peas, bell peppers, zucchini – as long as the overall volume of vegetables stays roughly the same.
- Lemongrass: There’s no substitute for the floral, citrusy personality of lemongrass, so if you can’t find it, compensate with extra ginger and lime juice in the sauce.
- Fresh Ginger: cannot be substituted with dried.
- Turmeric: Lends a golden hue and earthy, floral taste – don’t skip it!
- Coconut Milk: If you wanna make this lower-calorie/low-fat, sub with “light” coconut milk.
Lemongrass Curry Step-by-Step
Cook the Tofu: Start by pressing your tofu (instructions in the recipe card below) to eliminate excess moisture and help you achieve the crispiest results. Then cube, season with salt and pepper, and cook in a high-sided skillet until deeply golden on 2-3 sides. For the crispiest edges, resist the urge to move/flip the tofu until it’s 100% ready. Remove and set aside.
Prep the Lemongrass: While you wait for the tofu, get the sharpest, largest knife you have. Chop off the fibrous greener top portion of the lemongrass stalk and discard (or freeze for flavoring broths later). Trim about half an inch from the bottom. Peel off the tough fibrous outer leaves and discard/freeze. (The point is to get to the white/light green portion.)
Mince the Lemongrass: Using the spine of your knife (not the sharp side), whack the stalk fiercely until it’s bruised all over to release its essential oils. Finally, mince the lemongrass into the tiniest pieces possible. Set aside.
Cook the Vegetables: Place all the vegetables in the pan where you cooked the tofu and cook, stirring occasionally, until the broccoli is bright green and the veg are just starting to brown, about 5 minutes.
Finish the Curry: Add the lemongrass, ginger, garlic, chili flakes, and turmeric, and cook for 30 seconds. Then add the tofu back in, along with the coconut milk, soy sauce, and lime juice. Simmer gently for just a few minutes. Be careful not to overcook the vegetables; you want them to stay vibrant and slightly crunchy.
Serve the Curry: Serve the lemongrass curry alongside rice, and garnish with cilantro or basil.
Frequently Asked Questions
There are 3 keys to making the crispiest tofu. 1. Unless you’re using “super firm”, be sure to press tofu before cooking; follow the instrux in the recipe card or use a tofu press. 2. Don’t skimp on oil. Be sure to have a generous layer of it in the pan while frying; you can drain it off after so it doesn’t end up in the curry. 3. Resist the urge to move or flip the tofu until it’s crispy and deeply golden. Don’t fuss with it unless absolutely necessary. Use tongs, not a spatula, to flip.
Yes. Let it cool first, then transfer to an airtight container (I recommend deli containers) and freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw fully before reheating.
More takeout-inspired faves…
- Crispy Tofu Sushi Rolls
- Massaman Vegetable Curry
- Enoki Mushroom “Carnitas” Tacos
- Tofu Rice Bowls with Peanut Sauce
Thai-inspired lemongrass curry – packed with a rainbow of vegetables and crispy tofu cubes.
- One 14-ounce block extra firm tofu
- 2 tablespoons neutral oil, like avocado or refined coconut
- Fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 4 ounces green beans (a generous handful), trimmed and cut into 2-inch pieces* (see note below)
- 4 ounces cremini mushrooms (about 8 medium mushrooms), stemmed and quartered
- 3 scallions, cut into 2-inch pieces
- 2 cups bite-size broccoli florets
- 2 medium carrots, peeled and cut into matchsticks
- 1 lemongrass stalk, trimmed, pounded, and finely minced*
- 1-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and minced (about 1 tablespoon)
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1/2 teaspoon chili flakes
- 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
- One 13-ounce can unsweetened coconut milk
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon lime juice
- Rice and cilantro/basil, for serving (optional)
- Press tofu. Drain tofu and place it on a plate, then top with another plate or cutting board and weigh it down with something heavy (like a couple of cans), to squeeze out as much water as possible. Let stand for 15 to 30 minutes, periodically draining off the excess water. (Or use a tofu press.)
- Cut tofu into 1-inch cubes, and season one side with salt and pepper.
- Cook tofu. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a large high-sided skillet over medium heat. Arrange the tofu seasoned side down in a single layer in the skillet, then season the top-facing side. Cook until it forms a golden crust, resisting the urge to flip/move it until it’s ready, about 5 minutes per side; brown 2-3 of the sides. (Use tongs, not a spatula, to flip.) Remove and set aside.
- Cook vegetables. Drain off excess oil if needed and return skillet to medium heat. Add the beans, mushrooms, scallions, broccoli, and carrots. Cook until the broccoli is bright green and the vegetables are just starting to brown, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes.
- Add the minced lemongrass, ginger, and garlic, and 1/2 teaspoon each chili flakes and turmeric, and cook for 30 seconds.
- Finish curry. Add the tofu back in, along with the coconut milk, and 1 tablespoon each soy sauce and lime juice. Bring to a simmer, reduce the heat to low, and cook for about 3 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
- Serve with rice and cilantro/basil.
- Feel free to swap in whatever veg you already have – like onion, cauliflower, snow peas, bell peppers, zucchini – as long as the overall volume of vegetables stays roughly the same.
- There’s no good substitute for lemongrass, so if you can’t find it, compensate with extra ginger and lime juice. (See lemongrass prep tips above recipe.)
- Serving Size: 1/4 of the recipe (without rice)
- Calories: 350
- Fat: 29 g
- Carbohydrates: 14.4 g
- Fiber: 5.4 g
- Protein: 12.3 g
Keywords: thai, lemongrass, curry, vegan, vegetable