Thai style stir fried tofu with basil

Thai style stir fried tofu with basil is one of the most favored recipe from my blog, was most pinned ever and most loved one. Lightly fried tofu are slathered generously in sambal olek ,the hot Malaysian sauce which makes everything looks scrumptious and appetizing, lavish drizzle of sesame oil infuses such nice aroma to the dish that you will return to this beautiful hot chili tofu again and again. A sure winner for all vegans.

tofu stir fried

This recipe of tofu chili has been greatly influenced by the time and moments I had spent in the beautiful country of Thailand. But while making this dish I was challenged by the availability of the few indigenous ingredients required to give this dish an authentic touch as best as possible.

Hence, I have used many substitutions here, sambal olek in place of bird chili paste, and Italian basil in place of Thai basil. I know that’s unpardonable, but joy of enjoying good food supersedes the minute nuances of cooking by the book. I believe if you put your heart in any dish, or any work for that matter, it is bound to touch your soul.

That’s the magic of love. Have you checked our Pad Thai Noodles?


stir fried tofu with basil

“Mulling over 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 love, care and devotion, that’s makes cooking relaxing rather than a chore.”

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.

Thai cuisine is close to my heart and while vacationing in Thailand, I had fallen in love with the Tom Kha Kai / Thai Chicken Coconut Soup. Please check that one, it is so soul satisfying. So as the Thai Style Sago Pudding / Tapioca Pearl Pudding.

sambal olek / thai chilli paste

Thai style stir fried tofu with basil

Stir fried tofu taste best when they are spiced up with Thai bird chillies and basil brings the flavour in them.
Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time15 mins
Total Time25 mins
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: Thai
Keyword: Thai Basil Tofu Chilli
Servings: 3
Author: Sukanya Ghosh


  • 1 box Firm tofu
  • 1 Shallots, finely chopped
  • 3 tbsp Thai bird chillies, substitute with sambal olek ,adjust to your taste
  • 1 tbsp Garlic minced
  • 1-2 tbsp Crushed peanuts
  • 1 Red bell peppers, diced (optional)
  • 1 tbsp Dark soy sauce
  • Thai Basil, a large handful
  • 1 tsp White pepper
  • ¼ cup Stock / water
  • Oil for stir frying as required
  • Salt and sugar to taste
  • Seasoned sesame oil to drizzle


  • Cut the firm tofu into cubes, finely chopped the shallots, and minced the garlic.
  • Heat the oil in a wok and add the garlic, shallots and chilli paste (sambal olek) and saute them for few seconds.
  • Add the crushed peanuts, red bell pepper and tofu. Stir fried them for 10- 15 seconds.
  • Add the dark soy sauce, white pepper powder, fry for couple of seconds and add the water / stock.
  • Stir fried them for couple of more minutes until the sauce thickens a bit.
  • Adjust the seasonings, tear some basil leaves and add it to the wok.
  • Wait until the basil wilted, drizzle some seasoned sesame oil over it and take it off the heat.
  • Serve the stir fried tofu on a bed of steamed jasmine rice or enjoy it with noodles.
  • Quick notes
  • 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, that helps, and you will also need a large handful of Thai basil,  the flavour of basil makes it more enticing. Dig in it with your chopsticks ! yummm…its hot !

Looking for more Thai flavours. Do check this Tilapia fish dunked in Thai mango sauce, another our hot favourite at home.

Want to visit Thailand? Please read our travelogue here – Amazing Thailand



  • 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.

    Speak Your Mind

    This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

    %d bloggers like this: