Tofu may not be the sexiest ingredient in the world. However, this soy-brown sugar glazed pan-fried tofu will change the way you feel about it.
I used to avoid buying tofu because I could never really cook it to be the right flavor or texture. When I sautéd it in a skillet, it would fall apart. If I add it into a stew, the tofu itself would still be bland and boring.
Until this recipe really turned things around for me.
With an easy two-step technique, you can make the perfect golden-brown and crispy tofu by simply pan-frying with a skillet. Then covering the tofu with a satisfying soy-brown sugar sauce, you won’t miss meat anytime soon!
How to make crispy tofu in a skillet:
When I realized not knowing the right way to cook tofu is getting in the way of me eating this healthy ingredient more often, I’ve decided it’s time to do something about it.
After doing some research online and getting advice from a friend of my mom’s who was a retired professional chef. I have discovered the secret to making crispy pan-fried tofu.
I tried the technique the other day and I was amazed at how crispy the tofu would turn out. Now I am excited to share with you. This technique involves:
- Pressing the water out of the tofu
- Coat the tofu cubes with potato starch
Here’s how I pressed the tofu: Line a plate with 3-4 sheets of folded-up paper towels. Wrap the tofu block with the paper towels and then placing something heavy on top. I used a cast iron skillet (remember to dry it on the stove over low heat afterwards). A heavy book or canned goods are good options as well.
For extra firm tofu, pressing 30 minutes is good enough (60 minutes for firm tofu).
Once that’s done, I cut the tofu block into 1-inch cubes and then sprinkle a few tablespoons of potato starch over and toss to coat. You may need to add more potato starch, our goal here is to give all the cubes a decent coating on all sides.
To make the perfect crispy tofu, simply heat the skillet over medium heat until is hot, then put a little oil in the pan to coat the bottom and pan fry the tofu 2-3 minutes each side until all sides are crispy and golden brown.
Is all about the sauce:
Besides the crispy tofu, another reason I like this dish so much is because the bold soy-brown sugar sauce. After getting the texture right, this sauce not only takes care of the flavor aspect but take it to the next level.
It is made by combining soy sauce (1/4 cup), brown sugar (2 tablespoons), sesame oil (1 tablespoon), rice vinegar (2 tablespoons), sriracha sauce(2 tablespoons), grated ginger (1 tablespoon), grated garlic (1 tablespoon), potato starch (1/2 tablespoon), water (2 tablespoons) and toasted sesame seeds (2 tablespoons).
After glazing the crispy tofu cubes, there will be some extra sauce left in the pan. I like to scoop the remaining sauce from the pan and serve it in a small container as dipping sauce with the meal. Zero waste and more yumminess!
How to serve:
This soy-brown sugar glazed pan-fried tofu is a total winner on its own. But here are some ideas to incorporate this dish into a balanced meal.
I served it over couscous and with cast-iron grilled baby bok choy. You can pair it with broccoli or other veggie of your choice. And to replace couscous, brown rice or cauliflower rice are great alternatives as well.
Pressing the tofu may take some time and planning ahead, but cooking this dish is really easy and the pay off is totally worth it. I hope you enjoy making this dish as much as I did!
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- Stir Fry:
- a package of 14oz. extra-firm tofu or firm tofu, press out excess water, cut into 1-inch cubes
- 3-4 tablespoons potato starch for coating the tofu cubes
- 2 tablespoons oil for pan-frying
- 1/4 soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon sesame oil
- 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
- 2 tablespoons sriracha sauce
- 1 tablespoon grated ginger
- 1 tablespoon grated garlic
- 1/2 tablespoon potato starch, for thickening the sauce
- 2 tablespoons water
- 2 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds
- 2 stalks green onion, chopped diagonally
- 2 lime wedges
- Optional Extras:
- grilled baby bok choy, grilled peppers, broccoli, etc.
- couscous, brown rice, cauliflower rice, etc.
- Line a plate with 3-4 sheets of folded-up paper towels. Remove the tofu from the package, and place it on the paper towels. Wrap the tofu block with the paper towels and then place a pan or heavy book on top to weigh it down. For extra firm tofu, pressing for 30 minutes to get the excessive water out of the tofu (60 minutes for firm tofu).
- While waiting for the tofu, whisk together soy sauce, brown sugar, sesame oil, rice vinegar, sriracha sauce, grated ginger, grated garlic, potato starch, water and toasted sesame seeds in a small bowl and set aside.
- Cut the pressed tofu into 1-inch cubes, sprinkle 2-3 tablespoons of potato starch over them and toss to coat. If necessary, add more potato starch until all the cubes have a decent coating on all sides.
- Heat a large cast iron pan over medium heat. Once hot, add oil into the pan, and tilt it until the bottom is coated evenly with oil. Place the tofu cubes onto the pan and pan fry for about 15 min, spending about 2-3 minutes each side until they're golden brown and crispy on all sides, remove from the pan and transfer to a clean fry plate to set aside.
- Turn to low heat, give the sauce in the bowl a good stir and pour it into the same pan used to cook the tofu cubes. Cook until the sauce begins to bubble and has thickened, stirring occasionally.
- Turn off the heat, add the crispy tofu cubes back into the pan and stir until the cubes are all well coated in the sauce mixture.
- Scoop the remaining sauce from the pan and put it in a small container as dipping sauce.
- Serve the tofu over a bed of couscous and alongside grilled baby bok choy. Garnish with chopped green onion and lime wedges to enjoy!