This Crispy Pan-fried Tofu is super easy to make, made in one pan, and brilliantly crispy and tasty! Make a batch for meal prep and enjoy them throughout the week rice bowls, tacos, on noodles, etc. Or serve it as a vegan party appetizer on game day!
1.5 TBLS Olive Oil (or any other cooking oil you prefer)
1 pack (350-400 grams / 12-14 ounce block) firm or extra firm Tofu
1 – 1.5 TSP Kosher Salt, to taste
½ – ¾ TSP freshly cracked Black Pepper, to taste
Optional toppings: Chopped spring onion greens, chopped red chili (deseeded if desired), toasted white sesame seeds
For the Chili Soy Garlic Sauce (Optional):
¼ cup Low Sodium Light Soy Sauce
1 TBLS Black Vinegar
1 Spring Onion (green part only) – chopped
2 Garlic cloves – minced
1 TBLS Chili Paste/Sauce (use your favorite kind!), to taste
For the Crispy Pan-fried Tofu:
Drain the tofu package and wrap the block in paper towels. Gently squeeze out the excess water. Then remove and discard the paper towels and set the block on a cutting board. Use a sharp knife to cut the tofu block up into about 1.5cm cubes.
Heat olive oil in a nonstick skillet over high heat. Once hot, turn down the heat to medium-high and add the tofu cubes. Spread them out around the pan so that they are not overcrowding. Season with kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper to taste. Allow to cook undisturbed for a minute. Then gently shake the pan by the handle to make the cubes shift positions. You’ll see that the bottom of the cubes will have started to brown a bit. Use a spatula to flip the cubes, and season with additional kosher salt and black pepper (if needed).
Brown the tofu cubes on all sides, flipping the pieces occasionally – about 10-12 minutes. Once all the cubes are nice and crispy, switch off the heat and transfer to a serving plate. (No need to drain on top of a paper towel lined plate since we’re not using too much oil.)
If serving as an appetizer: Sprinkle with chopped spring onion, red chili, and toasted white sesame seeds. Serve with the Chili Soy Garlic Sauce (or your favorite Asian store-bought dipping sauce).
If using for meal prep: Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 3-4 days. Use in rice bowls, tacos, spicy noodle bowls, fried rice, etc.
For the Chili Soy Garlic Sauce:
Combine all the ingredients in a small bowl. Mix with a small spoon until evenly combined. Set aside until ready to serve with the crispy pan-fried tofu. (Note: The sauce can be made a day in advance. Store in an airtight lidded jar, or in a small bowl covered with cling wrap in the refrigerator until ready to serve.)
Using corn starch: If you want the tofu to be extra crispy, you can coat them in a bit of cornstarch before pan-frying. I recommend 1 tablespoon of corn starch for a 350-400 gram /12-14-ounce block.
Storing & leftovers: If not consuming all of the tofu at once, store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3-4 days. Reheat in a pan on the stovetop, or in the microwave for a minute or two. Just be aware that it won’t be as crispy as it initially was on day one if you reheat in the microwave. Also note that if you toss the crispy tofu cubes in a sauce and store in the refrigerator, the tofu will lose some of its crispy texture. It still tastes great! But just be aware that a sauce will soften the crispy exterior of the tofu cubes in the fridge.
A note on nutritional information: The nutritional information provided is inclusive of the nutrition information for the Chili Soy Garlic Sauce.