Tofu with Ginger, Peanuts, and Scallion


Shake off heavy holiday meals in favor of this light but delicious meatless dish. It really does have it all: protein, healthy fat, leafy greens, and anti-inflammatory spices that enhance the body's natural detoxification mechanisms. By itself, tofu doesn't have a lot of flavor, but when you combine it with ginger, garlic, peanuts, scallion, and cilantro, it becomes irresistible. Even skeptical carnivores will ask for more.

I usually recommend eating nuts raw, but peanuts are an exception because they're actually a legume, not a true nut. Like other legumes, it's ideal to soak and cook them before eating. I buy "blistered" peanuts which are soaked prior to roasting and available at Trader Joe's, which also sells organic sprouted tofu. If you can't find blistered peanuts, opt for dry roasted. If you can't find sprouted tofu, use any organic extra firm variety. (Why is organic important when it comes to tofu?)

I like this dish spicy and I find that adding one chili pepper isn't enough, so I add two. If you prefer a less spicy dish, remove the seeds and membranes from the chili before you chop it, or omit it completely. If you're on a detox, omit the honey. If your lime isn't organic, use the juice but not the zest.

You'll be able to find tamarind concentrate (80% tamarind, 20% water), fish sauce, and shrimp paste at Asian markets or the Asian section of well-stocked grocery stores. It's worth having them on hand so you can make this dish as much as you want. (I predict you'll want to make it often.)

If you don't have shrimp paste, you can omit it. I used to make this all the time without it and added it later as a way to get more fermented foods into my diet. The shrimp paste and fish sauce don't make this dish taste fishy, just savory and flavorful, so don't be afraid to try it if these ingredients are new to you.

Eat this dish with a fork, like you would any chopped salad, or serve it alongside a pile of lettuce leaves then spoon some of the mixture into the middle of a leaf, wrap it up, and pop it in your mouth.

  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped shallots (about 2)
  • 1/4 cup grated ginger, loosely packed
  • 1 container extra firm sprouted organic tofu (15.5 ounces), pressed and drained
  • 1/4 cup tamarind concentrate
  • 1 teaspoons shrimp paste
  • 2 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 2 teaspoons honey (optional)
  • 2 cloves garlic, grated or minced
  • 1 organic lime
  • 1 or 2 fresh chili peppers, red or green, thinly sliced
  • 6 ounces fresh baby spinach for serving
  • 1/2 cup thinly sliced scallions, green and white parts (about 4)
  • 1/2 cup chopped blistered or dry roasted peanuts, plus some for garnish
  • 1 bunch fresh cilantro, leaves, stems, and roots chopped

  1. Warm the coconut oil in a large stainless steel or enameled cast iron skillet over medium heat.
  2. Add the shallot and sauté until soft, about 5 minutes.
  3. Stir in the ginger cook one minute more.
  4. Crumble the tofu into the skillet, breaking it up into small, irregular pieces that resemble ground meat or scrambled eggs. Continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until the tofu dries out, starts to brown, and sticks to the bottom of the pan, about 10 minutes.
  5. While the tofu is cooking, dissolve the tamarind concentrate, shrimp paste, fish sauce, and honey in 1/3 cup of boiling water. Once the tofu is ready, add this mixture to the skillet and reduce the heat to low. Stir to incorporate any brown bits on the bottom of the pan into the sauce. Continue cooking until most of the liquid has evaporated.
  6. Zest the lime and grate the garlic directly into the skillet, then stir in the spinach. Continue cooking until the leaves have wilted, then turn off the heat. 
  7. Squeeze the lime juice into the skillet, then add the scallions, cilantro, and peanuts. Toss everything together thoroughly, then transfer it to a serving plate. Garnish with additional peanuts if you wish, then serve it immediately.