Today’s whole-piece fried spicy tofu recipe promises you an utterly-balanced dish. You’ll find the spiciness, sweetness, and tanginess all join together to represent the style of Asian cuisine.
Bold and garlicky flavor has remained the most popular characteristic of Asian cuisine. This spicy tofu is no exception.
It’s spicy, sweet, tangy, and satisfying at the same time. There’s no need to batter the tofu— simply fry it up in whole pieces and toss it with the spicy-tangy sauce.
What Is Tofu?
Tofu was first created in China, dated back to roughly 2,000 years ago.
Tofu is a vegetable protein, and is very flat and neutral in flavor. This is the main reason why it works well with almost any spice blends and seasonings.
Originally, tofu is made by soaking, grinding, and straining mature white soybeans into soybean milk. The milk is then mixed with nigari, a liquid extracted from seawater, to help coagulate the milk and form solid white blocks.
Is Tofu Vegan?
Yes, tofu is vegan.
Tofu is made from pressing soybean curds into firm blocks. Nowadays, it’s the center ingredient in countless of vegan dishes that try to imitate the texture of meat.
Types of Tofu
Packaged tofu often comes in different textures, ranging from silken to firm to extra-firm.
The water content in the tofu decides its consistency. The more water it contains, the silkier it can be, and vice versa.
This can be explained as follows.
When coalgulating, the soybean milk is simmered so the soybean curds can be separated from the whey. The curds are then pressed to drained all the remaining liquids inside.
In sum, there’s a relation between the draining time and the amount of water content left in the tofu. The longer they’re pressed, the more liquid they releases— resulting in firmer and more compact tofus.
1. Firm Tofu
This recipe requires frying tofu in whole pieces to create a crisp outer skin. Therefore, we highly recommend for a firm or extra-firm tofu so it won’t break down into chunks when frying.
Firm tofu is the most common type of tofu as it’s undoubtedly the most versatile for recipes. You can easily find firm tofu available in most grocery stores.
The texture of firm tofu is pretty similar to feta cheese. You can chop them in cubes without the risk of it falling apart.
Firm tofu is adaptable for most cooking methods including searing, stir-frying, deep-frying, and pan-smoking. It can easily hold in shape and absorb the marinade nicely.
If firm tofu is dried out even more, you’ll have super-firm tofu. Super-firm tofu is one of the greatest replacements of meat in vegan recipes, for example tofu steaks.
2. Silken Tofu
Among tofu of all ranges, silken tofu is the softest of all. Just like how the name delivers, silken tofu is rich, creamy, and very fragile.
Silken tofu can be broken into pieces easily and the texture is pretty similar to young cheese. It’s the most suitable one to use in desserts, puddings, vegan mayonnaises, and dips.
For many times, silken tofu is very favorable in vegan recipes. It can be used as a thick cream base for dairy-free cheesecakes or a substitution for eggs in baking.
How to Fry Crispy Tofu?
Today’s spicy tofu recipe gives you full control on the final result. Spicier or sweeter, you’re free to adjust it whatever way you prefer.
Making crispy tofu isn’t too challenging. First of all, make sure you got the right tofu for frying, that is the firm one.
Next, wrap the tofu block in paper towels, put something heavy on top of it to drain excess liquid. By doing so, the tofu could absorb the sauce well and fry to super crispy without being waterlogged.
It’s important to let the tofu get nice sears on all sides and don’t flip them too often. Move them around when you baste with the sauce, and finish them off with some sprinkles of pepper and scallions.
How to Make Spicy Tofu
Step 1: Drain liquid from tofu
Wrap both sides of a tofu block in a clean, absorbent paper towel, put weight on top of it to completely drain out the excess liquid.
Step 2: Cut the tofu
Cut the tofu block evenly into 1-inch cubes. Set aside.
Step 3: Fry the tofu
Heat olive oil on a skillet over medium heat. Add grated ginger and tofu cubes, fry for 25 minutes. Toss and turn frequently until all sides of the tofu cubes are golden brown. Transfer the fried tofu to a clean plate, set aside.
Step 4: Make the sauce
On the same skillet, turn on low-medium heat and add in the following ingredients: lemongrass, oyster sauce, soy sauce, sugar, dark soy sauce, and lemon juice. Stir quickly so the mixture coagulates and is slightly thickened. This should take no more 2 minutes; otherwise, the sauce could get too dense on heat.
Step 4: Toss tofu with sauce
Add the fried tofu back into the skillet. Toss to coat.
Step 5: Add remaining ingredients
Add the remaining ingredients: ground black pepper, red pepper flake, and sesame oil. Toss the mixture together with the tofu cubes and the sauce.
Step 6: Serve
Turn off the heat. Sprinkle some chopped scallions. Serve immediately with hot steamed white rice.
Tips for Making Spicy Tofu
There are tons of ways to get creative with this spicy tofu recipe. It’s just the matter of what your heart is fond of.
For instance, to make it vegan, you can substitute oyster sauce with mushroom-flavored sauce or black bean sauce. In the same vein, tamari can also replace soy sauce if you don’t want the gravy to be too watery.
As soy sauce and oyster sauce help form the base, the spice blend will lend a mild heat and subtle taste for this dish. The earthiness and mildness of sesame oil are also second to none— to the point that it could rival restaurant versions.
Finally, a citrusy touch from lemongrass and lemon juice will cut through the spice blend to create a sweet-and-sour flavor burst.
How Long Does Cooked Tofu Last?
Cooked tofu can last for 2-3 days in the fridge. You might need to return the cooked tofu back on the pan and give it a quick fry before serving again.
Can You Freeze Spicy Tofu?
Yes, you can. Simply transfer the leftover tofu to a clean plate, wrap it up with cling film, and put to the freezer.
Frozen spicy tofu can remain safe and edible up to 2 months.
What to Serve with Spicy Tofu?
Spicy tofu is most of the times served with rice. It’s already a well-rounded dish, so there’s no limit to which kind of rice is allowed in use.
To make it low-carb, simply go for cauliflower rice instead.
However, that’s not all we have for today. Besides serving spicy tofu on a bed of rice, we also pair it with a side salad to create a complete meal.
Thai Mango Salad
This easy and delicious Thai mango salad with vibrant colors is our choice to side with spicy tofu. It features shrimp, green mangoes, cherry tomatoes, and carrots, but takes only 15 minutes to make.
Pair this salad with spicy tofu and you’ll get a flavor combo that’s simple but full of complexity!
Spicy Tofu Recipe
- 16 oz extra-firm tofu
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tbsp scallion chopped
- 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
- 3/2 tsp red pepper flake
- 3/2 tbsp oyster sauce
- 1/2 tsp sesame oil
- 1 tsp lemon juice
- 1/2 tsp sugar
- 3 tbsp lemongrass chopped
- 3/2 tbsp lite soy sauce
- 2 tsp ginger grated
- 1 tsp dark soy sauce
- 4 1/2 cups cooked medium-grain rice equals to 3/2 cups uncooked
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- Wrap both sides of a tofu block in a clean, absorbent paper towel, put weight on top of it to completely drain out the excess liquid.
- Preheat oil in a large iron skillet over medium heat.
- Cut the tofu block evenly into 1-inch cubes. Set aside.
- Heat olive oil on a skillet over medium heat. Add grated ginger and tofu cubes, fry for 25 minutes. Toss and turn frequently until all sides of the tofu cubes are golden brown.
- Transfer the fried tofu to a clean plate, set aside.
- Keep the skillet on low-medium heat and add in the following ingredients: lemongrass, oyster sauce, soy sauce, sugar, dark soy sauce, and lemon juice. Stir quickly so the mixture coagulates and is slightly thickened. This must be done within 2 minutes only; otherwise, the sauce could get too dense on heat.
- Add the fried tofu back into the skillet. Toss.
- Continue to add all the remaining ingredients: ground black pepper, red pepper flake, and sesame oil. Toss the mixture so the tofu cubes are fully coated with the sauce.
- Sprinkle some chopped scallions. Turn off the heat.
- Serve spicy tofu with hot steamed white rice.
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