Stir-fried Spicy Beancurd

Preparation info

  • Difficulty


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Beancurd is a favourite food in Thailand, as well it should be. Nutritious, inexpensive, and a ready match for practically every other food and seasoning, it is a wonderful food. It is particularly favoured by vegetarians as the perfect substitute for animal protein; certainly, Buddhists have made it central both to their daily diet and to their festival celebrations.

Beancurd needs only to be spiced up a bit, something that Thai cooks do to perfection. I particularly enjoy this Thai-style beancurd dish; vegetarians may substitute soy sauce for the fish sauce. Both versions are delectable.


  • 450 g (1 lb) firm, fresh beancurd
  • 2 stalks fresh lemongrass
  • 400 ml (14 fl oz) groundnut (peanut) oil
  • 110 g (4 oz) chopped onions
  • 2 tablespoons coarsely chopped garlic
  • 3 tablespoons thinly sliced shallots
  • 2 small fresh red or green Thai chillies, seeded and chopped
  • 2 tablespoons fish sauce or light soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon shrimp paste
  • 2 tablespoons Thai green curry paste
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 3 tablespoons shredded fresh basil leaves
  • 3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh coriander leaves
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice
  • 3 tablespoons crushed roasted peanuts


  • handful fresh coriander sprigs


Drain the beancurd thoroughly, then set it on kitchen paper and continue to drain for 15 minutes. Gently cut into 2.5 cm (1 in) pieces.

Peel the lemongrass stalk to the tender whitish centre and finely chop it.

Heat the oil in a wok or large frying pan until it is hot, and deep-fry the beancurd in two batches. When each batch is lightly browned, remove and drain well on kitchen paper.

Drain off all but 1½ tablespoons of oil from the wok, reheat it, and when it is hot, add the lemongrass, onions, garlic, shallots and chillies and stir-fry for 2 minutes. Then add the fish sauce, shrimp paste, curry paste, pepper, sugar and cumin seeds and stir-fry for 1 minute. Return the beancurd to the wok together with the basil leaves and coriander and cook for 2 minutes. Finally, stir in the lime juice and peanuts. Transfer to a warmed platter, garnish with the coriander sprigs and serve at once.