It’s been more than a year since I visited Newark Farmer’s Market, and we kind of went Christmas morning crazy this past Saturday while shopping there. The cart was loaded down with a variety of rice, bulk spices, dried chilies, oils, vinegars, wild caught shrimp, herbs, and vegetables. We cased the entire store in childlike wonder, as if we’d never been there before. Back home, with fresh lemongrass, mint, and holy basil in hand, I instantly knew that an Vietnamese inspired dinner, or two, was in order.
Vermicelli Stir Fry with Tofu, Lemongrass, and Holy Basil
2 servings rice Vermecilli, cooked per pkg directions
1 pkg Extra Firm Tofu, sliced into small squares or rectangles
1/4 cup Masa flour, or flour of choice
2 tbsp Cornstarch
1/2 large Carrot, sliced
2 stalks Celery, trimmed and sliced
1 sm can Water Chestnuts, drained of liquid
1/2 Red bell pepper, diced
1/2 cup Baby Bok Choy, sliced
1/2 Sweet onion, diced
1 cup Thai Basil, loosely packed
1 stalk Lemongrass, trimmed, outer stalk removed, and minced
1″ piece Fresh Ginger, skin removed and minced
1 Jalapeno, sliced, optional
1 to 2 dried chile de arbol, optional
4 tbsp Toasted Sesame oil, divided
3 tbsp low-sodium Soy Sauce, or to taste
Salt and Pepper to taste
For the Tofu – in a med mixing bowl, combine the Masa flour and cornstarch. Season the cornstarch generously with salt and pepper, add any additional seasonings you like. Tofu loves flavor and needs a lot so don’t be shy with the seasonings. Toss the cubed tofu in the Masa/cornstarch mixture until well coated. Preheat a cast iron skillet over med high flame. Add in 2 tbsp Sesame oil and heat until shimmering. Once the oil is hot, pan sear the tofu on all sides, in batches, until golden and crispy. Remove tofu from skillet and set on a paper towel lined plate and sprinkle with additional salt and pepper, if desired. Set aside.
For the Stir Fry – Cook Vermicelli per pkg directions, drain and set aside. Preheat a wok over high flame. Add 2 tbsp Sesame oil and heat until shimmering. Add in the ginger and lemongrass. Saute for one to two minutes. Add in the onions, jalapeno and chili de arbol, if using. Saute a couple minutes more. Add in the carrots, celery, and red bells and saute about two to three minutes longer until the carrots are tender. Salt and Pepper. Turn off the heat and add in the bok choy, water chestnuts, Thai Basil, tofu, Soy Sauce, and Vermicelli. Toss until well combined. Taste and adjust seasoning as needed. Serve immediately. Garnish with additional Thai basil and Black Sesame seeds, if desired.