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Thai style stir fried tofu with basil

“Mulling the notion of “cooked with love,” or “made with love.”  Can “Love” influence the result of cooking? If so, how? Is it measurable? ” that’s how the thread started on social network forum, opinions poured in, some reveals that they use love potion in their cooking, some begged to differ and others streamed the discussion to a different channel. This made me thinking that though we often used the term loosely to some extent but does it really influenced our cooking in any way ?
I was of the opinion that ” I think cooked with love may also meant – that the chef / or the person has taken utmost care to dish out something nice which could be enjoyed by the people. When you cooked something good, with care obviously mind is free of negativity, that’s makes cooking relaxing rather than a chore.”
If you are focussed, then why just cooking , you will be able to execute any job with perfection and with utmost conviction. For the home cooks, cooking may not sounds like a job to them, to some it may be a daily chore which needs to be done somehow and to some it is one of the pleasurable exercise from which they can derive personal sense of satisfaction and fulfillment from doing something that makes them happy.

tofu stir fried

But do the restaurant chefs falls into these category too ? Perhaps not, when it comes to restaurant kitchen it is anything but the place where you can attain complete nirvana rather than it is the place where anger, frustrations, stress  seems to spice up the food and in spite of that they dished out the food in perfect execution (a job well done !)  and when they failed , they received severe criticism from the food critics et.al.

So back to square one ! How the “love” influenced your cooking, does it makes the food tastier or is it just an advertisement gimmicks used by the food companies or does it makes you feel better when some one says :  “cooked with love”, other than the ingredients, techniques and your personal state of mind, are there any hocus-pocus involved in making the food tastier ?

stir fried tofu with basil

In one word this dish is hot, I should caution you before you go awry and trying it out and cursing me 🙂 but then only it reveals its true flavours, it is hot but not fiery and if you are little impervious to the heat, you might like its taste as well.

Thai stir fried tofu

The idea was to use Thai bird chillies but here no grocer seems to stock them, even the oriental ones too. So I replaced the bird chillies , from where the Thai food derives its heat, with sambal olek , a South Asian chilli paste used mainly in Malaysian cuisine and I must say no regrets at all.
This recipe got the inspiration from here, and I took some liberty and added the crushed peanuts too and drizzle some seasoned sesame oil over it. When it comes to Thai cooking I can not resist myself from adding the peanuts in it, still under the influence of Pad Thai you can say ! 😀
sambal olek / thai chilli paste

Thai style stir fried tofu with basil
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Stir fried tofu taste best when they are spiced up with Thai bird chillies and basil brings the flavour in them.
Recipe type: Vegetarian side
Cuisine: Thai
Serves: 3
  • Firm tofu (Nasoya) : 1 box
  • Shallots (finely chopped) : 1
  • Thai bird chillies (substitute with sambal olek) : 3 tbsp or adjust to your taste
  • Garlic (minced) : 1 tbsp
  • Crushed peanuts : 1-2 tbsp
  • Red bell peppers (diced): 1 (optional)
  • Dark soy sauce : 1 tbsp
  • Thai Basil (substitute with Italian sweet basil) : a large handful
  • White pepper : 1 tsp
  • Stock / water : ¼ cup
  • Oil for stir frying : 1 tbsp
  • Salt and sugar to taste
  • Seasoned sesame oil to drizzle
  1. Cut the firm tofu into cubes, finely chopped the shallots, and minced the garlic.
  2. Heat the oil in a wok and add the garlic, shallots and chilli paste (sambal olek) and saute them for few seconds.
  3. Add the crushed peanuts, red bell pepper and tofu. Stir fried them for 10- 15 seconds.
  4. Add the dark soy sauce, white pepper powder, fry for couple of seconds and add the water / stock.
  5. Stir fried them for couple of more minutes until the sauce thickens a bit.
  6. Adjust the seasonings, tear some basil leaves and add it to the wok.
  7. Wait until the basil wilted, drizzle some seasoned sesame oil over it and take it off the heat.
  8. Serve the stir fried tofu on a bed of steamed jasmine rice or enjoy it with noodles.
  9. Quick notes
  10. This dish meant to be hot, so if you are serving it with steamed rice, make it little extra hot to go with the neutral flavour of rice.
This is absolutely vegan recipe but you can always add some sliced chicken to it.

Tofu stir fried is simple, can be prepared in jiffy if you have some good South Asian condiments in your pantry and you will also need a large handful of Thai basil, which you can replace with the Italian sweet basil too, the flavour of basil makes it more enticing. Dig in it with your chopsticks ! yummm…its hot !

Have a lovely week ahead



  • Reply
    rashmika j patel
    May 8, 2012 at 11:15 am


  • Reply
    May 8, 2012 at 11:37 am

    Awesome looking Tofu Srir Fry. Straight out of 7 Star restaurant.


  • Reply
    May 8, 2012 at 12:00 pm

    That is a beautifully written post and you truly got me thinking! From my side I can say this .. that when I am not in a great mood than whatever I prepare doesn’t taste good.. so I guess love does influence cooking in some way 🙂
    The dish is not only looking yum but with all the spice flavor combo it’s sounds amazing and I love Thai food anytime 🙂

  • Reply
    May 9, 2012 at 4:36 am

    Cant take my eyes from this super tempting stir fried tofu..simply drooling here.

  • Reply
    Priya (Yallapantula) Mitharwal
    May 9, 2012 at 11:56 am

    ooooooh !!! love that recipe, I am salivating looking at it 🙂

  • Reply
    May 10, 2012 at 9:02 am

    This sounds amazing – can’t wait to try it. Love that it’s vegan and I too will probably just use sambal olek instead of the chilis themselves!

  • Reply
    Only Fish Recipes
    May 10, 2012 at 10:47 am

    what a beautiful post !!!!I loved the Tofu stir fry recipe dear!!!looks very deicious!!!

  • Reply
    May 13, 2012 at 7:35 am

    I have never been a tofu person. But this seems like something worth trying for the other people at home… 🙂 Thank you, Sukanya!

  • Reply
    Devaki @ weavethousandflavors
    May 15, 2012 at 1:55 pm

    Wow! Hot spicy and fragrant with the scent of basil. What’s not to LOVE? lOVE being the operative word here!

    chow 🙂 DEVAKI @ weavethousandflavors

  • Reply
    May 28, 2012 at 7:35 am

    Loved the spicy tofu recipe.looks so appetizing.

  • Reply
    June 2, 2012 at 6:51 pm

    Oh God. Reminded me of my good ol’ days. Looks too good.
    Can’t wait to go back home end of this year. I’m gonna eat all day.

  • Reply
    Kitcehen Queen
    February 7, 2013 at 1:06 pm

    dish is so tastful , but if i am not mistaken that’s italian basil not thai basil. i always use thai basil for thai cooking cause italian ruin the dish.

    • Reply
      February 7, 2013 at 11:23 pm

      Yes you are absolutely right , this is Italian basil, and i do take some liberty to tweak the traditions, since I dont have acess to Thai basil. And if you look closely, you will find I have used sambal olek (which is used mostly in Malaysian cuisine) and not Thai bird chillies (as I have dont acess to that too ), that also brings lots of difference in taste. But sometimes the urge and pleasure of trying something different is so strong, I let it go…Thai or Italian basil , this dish was overwhelmingly on hot side.
      Thanks so much for loving it, I am sure with Thai basil it will taste even better 🙂


  • Reply
    February 20, 2018 at 7:17 am

    It looks wonderful but…..There are some issues with the directions. Stir frying the tofu and red peppers for 10-15 seconds doesn’t even warm them up. Then 1 tbs soy sauce and 1/4 cup water do not create a sauce like in the picture. It was dry and cold.

    • Reply
      Sukanya Ghosh
      February 26, 2018 at 11:12 pm

      Hi Sorry for your experience. Stir frys are usually done on high heat. So searing tofu on high heat just takes that much time if you are not looking to brown them.
      second, soy sauce in any recipe should not be used more than that as per that much amount of ingredients. soy sauce and water definitely don not make thick sauce. In the recipe the sauce main ingredient is sambal olek. I think you have missed that one.
      Next time please read the recipe n detail an do give a try, many has returned to me on social media with good reviews. I am sure you will love it.

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