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Fragrant Dressed Tofu With Garlic and Basil

Fragrant Dressed Tofu With Garlic and Basil 4.000

Tom McCorkle for The Washington Post; food styling by Gina Nistico for The Washington Post

Weeknight Vegetarian Nov 6, 2022

This simple recipe from cookbook author Hannah Che showcases liangban, a preparation she calls the easiest way to cook tofu: blanching it, seasoning it with salt and sesame oil and folding in finely chopped fresh herbs or scallions. The effect of the garlic and basil combination here is something like a coarse pesto, and the tofu gets even more umami from a little MSG. Serve with rice or another grain of your choice.

Total time: 20 mins

Storage Notes: Refrigerate leftovers for up to 3 days.


When you scale a recipe, keep in mind that cooking times and temperatures, pan sizes and seasonings may be affected, so adjust accordingly. Also, amounts listed in the directions will not reflect the changes made to ingredient amounts.

Tested size: 4 servings; makes about 3 cups

  • 1/4 teaspoon fine salt, plus more as needed
  • 14 to 16 ounces medium-firm or firm tofu, drained and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 2 cups loosely packed fresh basil leaves, preferably Thai basil, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, pressed or finely grated
  • 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon MSG (may substitute with 1 tablespoon nutritional yeast)


Bring a medium saucepan of very generously salted water to a boil. Place a bowl of cold water near the stove.

Use a slotted spoon to carefully lower the tofu cubes into the boiling water, reduce the heat so the water is simmering, and cook the tofu until completely heated through, 3 to 4 minutes. Use the slotted spoon to transfer the tofu to the bowl of cold water and let it cool for a few minutes. (The tofu’s outside surface will firm up as it cools.) Drain well and transfer to a large bowl.

In a small bowl, stir together the basil, garlic, sesame oil, MSG and 1/4 teaspoon of salt until thoroughly combined. Transfer the sauce to the tofu and use a spatula to gently fold until the tofu cubes are evenly coated. Taste, and season with more salt as needed.

Serve at room temperature or cold.

Recipe Source

Adapted from “The Vegan Chinese Kitchen” by Hannah Che (Clarkson Potter, 2022).

Tested by Joe Yonan.

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Nutritional Facts

Calories per serving (3/4 cup): 128

% Daily Values*

Total Fat: 8g 12%

Saturated Fat: 1g 5%

Cholesterol: 0mg 0%

Sodium: 185mg 8%

Total Carbohydrates: 3g 1%

Dietary Fiber: 1g 4%

Sugar: 0g

Protein: 9g

*Percent Daily Value based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

Total Fat: Less than 65g

Saturated Fat: Less than 20g

Cholesterol: Less than 300mg

Sodium: Less than 2,400mg

Total Carbohydrates: 300g

Dietary Fiber: 25g

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