This simple stir-fry from Katie Chin's new cookbook, Everyday Thai Cooking, is a true Chin original. She brings together Thai staples—fish sauce, palm sugar, lime juice, and peanuts—with easy-to-find ingredients—spinach, tofu, basil—for a spicy, crunchy, veggie-based main that comes together faster than you can cook a pot of rice. The tofu is transformed from its spongy, bland beginnings as it soaks up the umami-filled sauce.
Why I picked this recipe: I wanted to try out a vegetarian recipe in the book, and this one was definitely the most unique.
What worked: The mixture of oyster sauce and sherry were a great foil to the mineral-y spinach, and a reminder of the link between Chinese and Thai cuisine.
What didn't: I prefer to sear tofu in a nonstick skillet to allay any fear of sticking. Guessing that it would stick in only 1 tablespoon of oil, I seared it off separately before adding it back into the stir fry at the end.
Suggested tweaks: You could certainly sub out the tofu for any other protein, or else cut it out completely and add more spinach. For a truly vegetarian take, you could use a mixture of sweet soy sauce and regular soy sauce for the fish and oyster sauce.
Reprinted with permission from Everyday Thai Cooking: Quick and Easy Family Style Recipes by Katie Chin. Copyright 2013. Published by Tuttle Publishing. All rights reserved. Available wherever books are sold.
- 2 tablespoons high-heat cooking oil, divided
- One 16-ounce (500 g) block ﬁrm tofu, drained, patted dry and cut into 1/2-inch (1.25 cm) cubes
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 tablespoon minced galangal or fresh ginger
- 8 ounces (250 g) spinach, washed and trimmed
- 1 1/2 tablespoons fish sauce (nam pla)
- 2 teaspoons cooking sherry
- 1 tablespoon oyster sauce
- 1 tablespoon palm or brown sugar
- 2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lime juice
- 2 teaspoons Asian chili sauce, preferably Sriracha
- 1/2 cup (10 g) ﬁnely chopped fresh Thai or Italian basil
- 1/3 cup (50 g) crushed roasted peanuts plus more for garnish
- Fresh Thai or Italian basil leaves for garnish
Heat half of the oil in a wok or skillet over medium-high heat. Add the tofu pieces and stir-fry until golden brown, about 3 minutes. Remove from the pan and set aside.
Heat the remaining oil in the wok or skillet over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and galangal and stir-fry until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the spinach, ﬁsh sauce, sherry, oyster sauce, palm sugar, lime juice, and chili sauce; stir-fry until the spinach is wilted, about 2 minutes. Add the basil leaves and peanuts and stir-fry for 30 seconds until basil is wilted. Dish out and garnish with basil leaves and peanuts. Serve with jasmine rice.