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

Spicy Thai Tofu with Spinach, Basil, and Peanuts
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.

Recipe Facts

Active: 20 mins
Total: 20 mins
Serves: 4 to 6 servings

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  • 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. 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. 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.