Initially, the Larb dish originated in Laos but quickly became popular in Thailand’s Northeastern and Northern regions. It consisted of ground meat seasoned with fresh herbs.
Nowadays, the vegan version of Larb is as popular as the meat one, even among people that are not vegan. This is because the Vegan Tofu Larb requires minimal cooking and explodes with flavours.
It is truly one of my favourite tofu meals!
Because I live in Thailand, I’ve tried many versions of tofu larb and came up with my own, combining all the best flavours and techniques. This dish integrates savoury, sweet, spicy notes, freshness, and crunch. This is achieved by combining dried and fresh herbs and spices and a generous amount of lime juice.
I recommend using extra firm tofu, which you should press before cooking to remove any water residue. This will give tofu a meaty texture. The Tofu Larb is usually paired with fresh lettuce or cabbage, but you could also have it with rice. It is usually eaten warm or at room temperature but will taste great cold, too, which makes it perfect for taking with you on the go to eat for lunch away from home.
P.S. In the recipe, I’m using black garlic, which is optional. Black garlic is aged garlic, and it’s made by placing garlic in a controlled environment of low heat and high humidity over several weeks. As a result, it’s very high in antioxidants and rich in amino acids with a creamy texture like butter. This dish doesn’t require black garlic; regular garlic will do just fine. I like to take advantage of this nutritious food by adding it to my cooking whenever I can.
Thai-Inspired Vegan Tofu Larb
- 1 Mortar
- 1 Pestle
- 1 block tofu extra firm
- 2 tbsp basil chopped
- 1 lime sliced
- 1 tsp onion powder
- 1 tsp white pepper
- 1/2 tsp cilantro powder
- 1 clove garlic chopped
- 1 stalk lemongrass sliced
- 2 tsp olive oil extra virgin
- 1 clove black garlic optional
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/4 cup red onion thinly sliced
- 2 tbsp mint chopped
- 1 tsp lime juice
- To the mortar (deep bowl) add chopped basil, lime (cut in half and then each half cut again), onion powder, white pepper, cilantro, garlic, lemongrass, salt and olive oil.
- Mash the ingredients together using a pestle.
- Crumble tofu with the fork, then add to the mortar. Mash again, making sure all the ingredients mixed well together.
- Heat the oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add tofu mix and sauté for 4 or 5 minutes or until the tofu is light brown.
- Towards the end add thinly sliced red onions. Cook them for a few moments, as you want to keep them crisp.
- Once tofu is cooked, remove lime wedges. Place tofu in a medium bowl and combine with chopped mint and fresh lime juice.
- Serve in the lettuce leaves.