Crispy Sesame Soy Tofu w/ Kaffir Lime Leave Pesto

Now I have to say it is pretty hard to make tofu actually taste good. Tofu is so bland as it is, and unless you make it really crispy and marinate it for a long time then it will just taste like a wet sponge. 

This recipe shows you that tofu can taste good and make you want to come back for more. By marinating it for at least an hour (longer is better, but I try to create easier recipes for you), crisping it up by baking AND pan-frying it, pairing it with a rich and delicious kaffir lime leave pesto….well it could not get better than that! 

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I recently made green curry and had a bunch of leftover kaffir lime leaves and had no idea what to do with them. If you have never had lime leaves before, they are often used in green curry and either thrown in the paste or simmered in the curry itself. They taste exactly what they sound like…limes! They can also be used for other Asian dishes, such as Thom Kha soup, and red curries.  However, I wanted to found another use for it. 

I searched the web and found an amazing idea: kaffir lime leave pesto. This recipe is inspired by a recipe that was posted on the Cooking Channel.  They are a genius! Instead of obviously pairing it with chicken, I picked tofu. I am not going to just pair this pesto with any old squishy bland tofu, so I uber crisped it up. 

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If this dish could not have any more depth in flavors I couldn’t resist from making a rich coconut milk couscous. Now if you think this dish already had some fat in it from the oil, feel free to omit the coconut milk. Just cook the couscous in veggie broth to maintain some more flavor!

I hope you adore this dish as much as I do!

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Crispy Sesame Soy Tofu w/ Kaffir Lime Leave Pesto 

By: Taavi Elizabeth     Serves: 3-4 (or 2 generous servings) 

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  • 1 block of tofu 
  • 2 tbsp sesame oil 
  • 3 tbsp tamari 
  • 1 stalk lemongrass – finely minced 
  • 1 clove garlic – finely minced 
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon 
  • 1/2 tsp sugar 
  • Dash of chili flakes 
  • 1/2 cup fresh basil 
  • 1/4 cup fresh mint 
  • 1/4 cup kaffir lime leaves (fresh or dried) 
  • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro 
  • 1/4 cup olive oil 
  • 1 clove garlic 
  • 3/4 tsp salt 
  • 2 tbsp toasted peanuts 
  • 1 cup couscous 
  • 1 1/2 cups water + 1 1/2 cups coconut milk (or veg. broth) 



  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with silicone baking mat or parchment paper. Cube the tofu and arrange on baking sheet. Bake for 30-35 min. or until golden brown. Flip halfway. 
  2. While tofu is baking, prepare the marinade. In a large shallow bowl, whisk together all ingredients. Add tofu to the bowl and stir to completely coat with marinade. Cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 1 hour.
  3. While tofu is marinating, prepare pesto. In a food processor, add in all ingredients. Process until paste forms. You may need to add water and scrape down the sides a little. I added approx. 2 tbsp of water to obtain the right consistency. Transfer to a small bowl and set aside. 
  4. Bring water and coconut milk to a boil in a saucepan. Once boiling, pour over couscous (that is in another saucepan), cover, and let sit for 8-10 min. or until liquid is absorbed. Fluff up couscous. 
  5. Heat 2 heaping tbsp of oil in a large skillet. When the oil is shimmering, add in tofu. Cook on both sides for 2-3 min. or until crispy and a deep golden brown (not burnt). Transfer to a paper towel to absorb excess oil. 
  6. Serve: Place a serving of couscous into a bowl, top with crispy tofu, and then a few spoonfuls of pesto. Don’t worry, the hot tofu will warm up the pesto. (Optional) Garnish with chopped green onions and red chili flakes. Enjoy!

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