Pan Fried Crispy Tofu Stir Fry | Vegan Recipe
Updated: Sep 6, 2019
Tofu is probably the most stereo-typically vegan food, but for good reason: it's packed with protein, inexpensive, and also extremely versatile for making a variety of meat alternatives. But for those that have only tried tofu in its most basic form, it unfortunately also has a reputation for being bland. Let me do my best to break this misconception by providing a few easy tips for making your tofu flavorful and crispy!
Here is the recipe for my go-to tofu stir fry, with an emphasis on how I prepare and cook my tofu.
Extra firm tofu
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/4 cup soy sauce
1 tbs sesame oil
Hint of chili oil (optional, for a bit of spice)
Coconut oil or canola oil (or choice of frying oil)
Choice of rice or noodles
Choice of veggies
Measurements are rough and don't need to be followed strictly.
For a base, this time I opted to go with brown rice, but when I'm feeling extra lazy or in a hurry, I love using ramen noodles (Top Ramen soy sauce flavor is vegan). Throw out the seasoning packet, drain the noodles, and just throw your stir fry on that with your choice of sauce! Soy sauce is always a classic.
As for the veggies: this time around, I used shiitake mushrooms, eggplant, frozen broccoli, red and yellow peppers. My go-tos are usually frozen broccoli, other frozen veggies, and mushrooms.
Pro-tip: frozen veggies are great to keep around for stir frys because they don't go bad, and they're cheap.
First, drain your tofu. Make a slit in the package and drain into the sink.
Once you've gotten as much water out as you can, open up the package and remove the block of tofu. Wrap the tofu in a few layers of paper towels, put it on a plate with something heavy(ish) on it, like a pan or large bowl, to help press out the water. (For future reference, I plan to start using tea towels or a tofu press for a more environmentally friendly option, but paper towels do the trick as well.) Let sit for about 10-20 minutes, depending on your patience level.
Unwrap the tofu block and place it on a cutting board. Cut it into your desired shape and size. I cut mine into 7-9 thin rectangles so that they can get nice and crispy, and are easy to flip (rather than having lots of small pieces).
Combine soy sauce, sesame oil, and 2-3 drops of chili oil (optional- a little goes a long way!) into a wide, shallow dish.
Dip each piece of tofu into the mixture, coating both sides. Allow your tofu to marinate in the dish for at least 10 minutes.
Add your cornstarch to a separate shallow dish. You can add some spices to this dish as well- I added a bit of salt and pepper, but it's not necessary.
Once your tofu is done marinating, begin heating up about 1 cm of oil in a large pan over medium heat. Use a pan that will fit all your tofu pieces so that they can make direct contact with the bottom of the pan. I usually use canola or vegetable oil for a neutral taste; coconut oil is great as well, but does leave a bit of a coconutty taste on the tofu, which I love, but some may not!
Before adding the tofu to the pan, dip each piece in the cornstarch, coating both sides evenly. The cornstarch will absorb into the tofu a bit, but it will still have the same effect if it is no longer visible.
Add all the tofu into the pan so that each piece can touch the bottom. Leave a bit of space between each piece if possible, because they may stick together while cooking, making it more difficult to flip them. Cook for 6-8 minutes on each side, or until medium brown.
Preparing the veggies is quite simple, so I won't go into as much detail here. But in this case, I let the mushrooms cook over medium heat in a tiny bit of oil until lightly browned and crispy. Then, I added chopped up eggplant, and frozen broccoli. I add in the broccoli when it's still frozen. When these were close to finished, I added in the peppers. Drizzle in a bit of soy sauce, some salt, or your choice of stir fry sauce.
Again, pretty straightforward! Put your prepared rice or noodles on a dish, drizzle with a bit of soy sauce, add some of the veggie mixture on top, then add your crispy tofu! You can serve the tofu in the rectangle shape that you cooked it in, or you can opt to cut it up into smaller pieces before serving.
A quick, easy and delicious dish! And also can be made quite cheaply depending on what veggies and base you use. Tofu stir fry is always a good staple in a vegan cooking repertoire!