Lemon grass gives
tofu tasty turn

These dishes were prepared by Joan Namkoong, author of "Go Home, Cook Rice," on "Hawaii's Kitchen" this week, in a rebroadcast of the April 7 show. The show airs at 5:30 p.m. Sunday on KHON/Fox.

Lemon Grass Tofu

20 ounces firm tofu
2 tablespoons lemon grass, finely minced
2 tablespoons shallot, finely minced
2 teaspoons garlic
2 tablespoons fish sauce
2 teaspoons brown sugar
2 teaspoons turmeric
1-2 Hawaiian chili peppers
3 tablespoons oil
1/4 cup la lot (see note), finely chopped
1/2 cup roasted peanuts, chopped

Cut tofu into 1-inch slices and gently press between paper towels to extract moisture. Cut into bite-size cubes. Mix lemon grass, shallot, garlic, fish sauce, sugar, turmeric and chili peppers. Add tofu and gently toss. Marinate at least an hour.

Heat a nonstick skillet and add oil. When oil is hot, add tofu and fry, turning to brown each side. Add la lot and peanuts, and gently mix until leaves are wilted.

Note: La lot is Vietnamese pepper leaf, available in Chinatown. May substitute purple-stemmed Thai basil.

Perfect Pork Chops

1/4 cup kosher salt
4 cups water
4 pork chops with bone, about 1/2 inch thick
Salt and pepper, to taste
2 tablespoons oil

Dissolve salt in water to make a brine. Place pork chops in baking dish in a single layer with brine covering the meat (add more water if necessary). Cover; refrigerate 3 to 4 hours.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Season pork chops lightly with salt and generously with pepper. Heat an ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat; add oil. Sear pork chops until browned and crusty, about 3 minutes per side.

Place skillet in oven and bake 18 to 20 minutes, until internal temperature of 145 to 150 degrees is reached. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.

Nutritional information unavailable.

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