These Thai Basil Tofu Rice Bowls are the perfect vegetarian takeout style dish! Sweet and savory ground tofu is tossed with fragrant Thai basil and spicy Thai chilis. It's super easy to make and it tastes delicious! This was adapted from a recipe from Woks of Life.
Back when I lived in NYC, Thai takeout was my go-to!
From big bowls of pad see ew to flavorful skewers of chicken satay, I loved it all!
When I moved down to New Smyrna, I quickly realized that there were no (good) Thai restaurants in town.
Like any woman in need, I decided to come up with a plan.
I'd scour the internet to learn how to make my favorite Thai dishes at home.
Although I had spent month in Thailand taking cooking classes in my early 20s, I wanted something that was more takeout style. That's when I found Woks of Life which is a fantastic blog that shows you how to make tons of amazing easy Asian dishes.
This recipe was adapted from their Thai Basil Chicken recipe which I recently made on my instagram stories.
It's so good! And I highly recommend you check them out if you're looking for easy Asian dishes.
So let's get to it!
What you'll need
(Scroll all the way down for the exact recipe and printable card)
- extra firm tofu
- neutral oil such as grape seed, peanut of vegetable
- Thai chilis
- Sugar - I prefer brown but you could use white sugar or honey
- Soy Sauce
- Fish Sauce
- Thai Basil
- Salt and Pepper
- Cooked Rice - I prefer brown but you could use white or fried rice
How to make it
Making Thai Basil Tofu is super easy! I adapted it from Wok's of Life Thai Basil Chicken for a quick and easy vegetarian version.
To begin, you'll want to start by pressing your tofu to remove excess moisture. To do this, just remove your tofu from the water it comes in and place it on a towel. Place a towel on top and put a heavy plate on top of that. This way, the moisture will seep out to create a better texture.
While that's happening, add oil to a large pan over medium heat and swirl it around.
Next, add the chopped onion and a pinch of salt and stir. Cook it down until softened and slightly sweet.
Then add the minced garlic and cook for 2 minutes. You don't want the garlic to burn - just to soften and to release its flavors.
When the garlic is ready, it's time to add the sliced Thai chili and cook for another minute or two. I only used one chili because I'm breastfeeding and didn't want it too spicy... but you could use as many as you'd like!
If you don't have Thai chili or Thai basil, skip to the next section for substitutions.
The next thing you'll do is to crumble the tofu. I recommend crumbling it with your hands right into the pot. Give it a stir to combine it with the onions, garlic, and Thai chili.
Next, add the sugar, soy sauce, and fish sauce and let it bubble away until until it's absorbed.
Lastly, you'll finish with a handful of Thai basil on top. No need to chop it or anything -- just throw it in and stir!
Give it a taste and season with salt and pepper if desired
What if you can't find Thai chilis or Thai basil?
If you don’t have thai chili, you can substitute 1 tsp red pepper flakes or more if you like it spicier!
If you don't have red pepper flakes, you could also use sriracha or a similar hot sauce.
And if you can’t find thai basil, you can definitely substitute regular basil for a slightly different taste.
What to pair it with
If I were making this Thai Basil Tofu dish for dinner, I would start with this lemongrass pork eggrolls, and then pair it with some Singapore Street Noodles.
If I had to feed some meat eaters too, I would serve this miso pork ramen or this ground orange chicken!
For some Japanese inspiration, try making Hibachi night at home with this Hibachi Chicken with Yum Yum Sauce, Hibachi Style Noodles and these Japanese Green Beans.
Save it for later
If you'd like to save this recipe for another time -- go for it! Just hover your mouse over the images and click pin! Save it to whatever pinterest board you'd like and it'll always be there for ya!
And if you don't already, feel free to follow me on pinterest for daily inspiration!
Thai Basil Tofu
- 1 block extra firm tofu
- 2 tablespoons oil
- 1 medium onion finely diced
- 5 cloves garlic minced
- 2 Thai chilis thinly sliced -- and de-seeded if desired
- 2 tbsp brown sugar or white sugar or honey
- 3 tbsp soy sauce
- 1.5 tbsp fish sauce
- 1 handful Thai basil leaves
- 4 cups cooked rice
- Start by pressing your tofu to remove excess moisture.
- Meanwhile, add oil to a large pan over medium heat. Then add onion and a pinch of salt and cook down until softened.
- Add garlic and cook for 2 minutes.
- Add sliced Thai chili and cook for another minute or two.
- Next, crumble the tofu and add it in and stir.
- Add sugar, soy sauce, and fish sauce and cook until absorbed.
- Finish with a handful of Thai basil.
- Season with salt and pepper if desired
- Add rice to four bowls then top with a Thai Basil Tofu
If you can’t find thai basil, you can use regular basil for a slightly different flavor.