Spicy Thai Tofu With Spinach, Basil, and Peanuts From 'Everyday Thai Cooking'

Spicy Thai Tofu With Spinach, Basil, and Peanuts From 'Everyday Thai Cooking'
  • Yield:Serves 4-6
  • Active time:20 minutes
  • Total time:20 minutes
This recipe appears in:
Spicy Thai Tofu With Spinach, Basil, and Peanuts From 'Everyday Thai Cooking'

[Photograph: Masano Kawana]

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


  1. 1.

    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.

  2. 2.

    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.

Serious Eats Newsletters

Keep up with our latest recipes, tips, techniques and where to eat!

Add a rating with your comment:

Comments can take up to a minute to appear - please be patient!

Previewing your comment: