Tofu is a vegetarian and vegan’s best friend but sometimes it can be straight up boring.
Unless its in a miso soup, I want my tofu crispy!
Below I want to give you some quick tips to add more flavor and texture to your tofu so even your non-vegetarian friends and family will give it I try. (Trust me I’ve fed it to them!)
I know that marinading tofu is a great way to add flavor, but sometimes I don’t have the time and patience for that. If I’m stir-frying it, I don’t like to do a marinade because it prevents the tofu from getting crispy.
I only marinade my tofu if I am going to bake it.
So, below are the three ways to stir-fry tofu for more flavor and crispy perfection. There are a few of my favorite recipes at the bottom, too. Enjoy.
3 Ways to Make Tofu Taste Good Every Time Without a Marinade
1. Drain it
Start with firm or extra firm tofu. These hold up well when you stir fry them.
Get some paper towels or a towel you use for food and wrap the block of tofu in the towels. Do this at least 10 minutes before cooking. (I often do this while I prep all my other ingredients).
It’s even better to do this a few hours or a day in advance.
If you really want to drain the sucker (makes it more firm), but a heavy weight on it in the fridge as it sits in a colander over a bowl.
Sometimes you can change out for new paper towels to drain it twice.
When it’s time to cook. Unwrap the tofu and slice it up for the stir fry.
Proceed to step 2 for crispy tofu.
2. Dredge in cornstarch
This is MY FAVORITE trick and I learned it working at my university cafeteria. The key to some really crispy tofu is cornstarch. The corn starch on the tofu always adds more body and texture to the sauce because some of it falls into the sauce. Then, the cornstarch thickens the sauce without having to make a separate sauce.
So, it’s a win all around. It takes an extra step but when I have the time, it’s a must.
How to do it:
Dry the tofu first in step 1.
Then, get a strainer. Cut up the tofu into cubes and put the tofu cubes in the strainer. Sprinkle a few spoons of cornstarch over the tofu and then shake the tofu in the strainer to remove excess cornstarch and coat the cubes all around.
Once, they are coated, don’t wait to fry them. They need to be cooked right after they are coated otherwise they absorb too much of the starch and get weird.
Stir-fry the coated tofu in a couple tablespoons oil (read step 3 for the oil recommendation) and then take them out of the pan and proceed with the rest of the veggies.
You can deep fry the tofu but this takes away the health benefits. So, I prefer to shallow fry with just a little bit of oil.
Once you cook the rest of your veggies. Then, add the tofu back into the pan. This keeps the tofu crispy and prevents them from falling apart as you stir fry the other ingredients.
Stir it around a little in the pan with the sauce so the cornstarch can thicken the sauce if you are using one.
3. Use sesame oil or coconut oil for frying and to impart flavor
The last thing is to fry them in a flavorful oil. Make sure you are using the right oil or fat for the right cuisine. Why wouldn’t you use olive oil? Read more about here.
If you’re cooking tofu, most likely you are cooking Asian foods, so use sesame oil or coconut oil. My preference is sesame oil. It’s nutty and gives a great background flavor to all the Asian dishes.
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Practice with some of my favorite healthy tofu recipes. They’re simple and easy to prepare.
If you follow these steps, draining it, dredging it, and cooking it in sesame oil, you’re tofu will be tasting great. You might convert your non-vegetarian friends or family to like it, too.
If you try the steps out, I’d love to see it! Tag me @chefjoannas
To your happy and healthy life,
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