Make this dish. Trust me on this one. If you like Asian flavors at all, you will like this dish.
This is not the classic Thai Basil dish you may be familiar with. It's not even Thai basil in the dish, but the same old familiar basil I've been growing all year long. The flavors are influenced by Thai coking, and it wouldn't be out of place in most Thai restaurants.
The base for the sauce is coconut milk and lime juice, a classic Southeast Asian combination. You can find coconut milk in cans in most big-city supermarkets. Check in the Asian and Latin sections of your market.
Goya sells a good can of coconut milk (which sure beats working with a tiny stool and milk bucket trying to get a new mother coconut to lactate).
Omit the nam pla if you want this to be a truly vegetarian/Vegan dish. Adding fresh peanuts or cashews to the dish would be welcome. We didn't have any at home. We have pistachios, almonds, walnuts, and probably some soynuts, but no peanuts. Go figure. If you do add the peanuts, add them near the end or just before serving so they retain their fresh taste and texture.
But seriously, go make this for dinner. After you've done the chopping and prep, this dish comes together very quickly.
Thai-influenced Tofu and Basil with Coconut Rice
1 pound firm tofu (not silken)
2 tablespoons sesame oil, divided
1 tablespoon nam pla (fish sauce)
2 tablepoon soy sauce, divided
1 tablespoon "Rooster" hot sauce (Huy Fong Sriracha Garlic Hot Sauce)
1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon lime juice
2 cans coconut milk, divided
1/2 can medium grain rice (about a cup)
1/2 pound mushrooms, sliced
1 medium white or yellow onion
1 red bell pepper
6 cloves garlic
10-12 basil leaves, chopped rough
1/4 cup chopped clilantro
Place the tofu block on a plate covered several layers thick with paper towels. Place more paper towels on top of the tofu, a plate on top of the paper towels and a weight on top of the plate. You can use the cans of coconut milk if you like. Press for 30 minutes to extract much of the water from the tofu.
Meanwhile, mix up a tablespoon of the sesame oil, a tablespoon of nam pla, one tablespoon of the hot sauce, one tablespoon of the soy sauce and one tablespoon of lime juice. This will be the marinade.
slice the jalapenos into quarters lengthwise. Cut out the seeds and white membranes and discard. Cut the jalapeno quarters lengthwise into long thin strips.
Remove the seeds and membranes from the red bell pepper and cut the into 1/8" wide strips. If the pepper was a large one, cut the strips in half.
Peel and mince the garlic.
When the tofu has been pressed, cut it into strips about 1/2" x 1/8" x 1" or so, or into any shape you prefer. The more surface area you have, the more marinade will coat the strips. Place the tofu and the marinade in a bowl and stir gently to coat. Set aside for at least 15 minutes, stirring occasionally to coat any pieces that have drained.
In a saucepan, combine the rice and one can of coconut milk. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer and cover. Cook until the milk is absorbed completely, and the rice is cooked through, about 7-12 minutes.
Meanwhile, heat a tablespoon of sesame oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. When hot, add the garlic, onion, and mushrooms and sautee for 5-7 minutes until the onions start to go translucent and the mushrooms have softened up.
Add the second can of coconut milk and 1/4 cup of lime juice to the skillet along with the red pepper, the jalapenos, the tofu with marinade, and the cliantro and basil leaves. Stir gently. Heat through (about five minutes). Taste and adjust seasonings.
Serve over coconut rice.