Tofu can be hit or miss. Many people consider it to be something only vegetarians or vegans eat. That's because they haven't tasted well-made tofu. The truth is tofu in itself doesn't have a distinctive taste. How good it turns out depends on how you prepare it, which makes it a super-versatile ingredient and a great substitute for meat. You can add it to salads, curries, soups, and stir-fries.
So let us introduce you to the world of tofu. Follow this recipe and learn how to stir fry tofu and make an easy protein-filled midweek dinner. The best part? It will only take you 20 minutes or less.
What is tofu stir fry?
Let's start at the beginning. Stir-frying is a very quick and easy way of cooking small pieces of food in a wok or pan. It's also very healthy because the vegetables don't get boiled, and therefore retain almost all of their nutrients. When you stir fry the food, you only need a small amount of oil, and this keeps the fat content low. Adding tofu to your stir fry instead of chicken, fish, or red meat, is a perfect alternative for vegans and vegetarians, and those who want to follow a more plant-based diet.
A word on tofu
Tofu is bean curd, essentially. It's made by coagulating soy milk and then pressing the curds into a solid block. The blocks vary in softness - you can get silken, soft, firm or extra-firm tofu. These different types of tofu are used for different types of cooking.
Tofu is an excellent source of protein and contains all nine of the amino acids. It also has iron and calcium as well as different types of minerals like manganese and phosphorous. It's also healthier than meat in the calorie department.
Before it's been cooked or seasoned, tofu has a bland flavor. The wonderful thing about tofu is that it absorbs all the food and seasoning it's being cooked with. So if you love experimenting and playing with absorbent food, tofu is for you.
How to cook tofu stir fry
Before you start, it's very important that you use a firm to extra-frim tofu for this recipe. You want the tofu to stay together while you're frying it. Silken or soft tofu will fall apart very quickly, and you're likely to end up with a soggy mess.
This is an easy and quick last-minute meal that you can cook up for the family, or for those vegan or vegetarian friends who regularly come over for dinner, and bring their own food! You can cook this with almost any vegetables you have to hand. The veggies in our recipe are a guidelines, but feel free to swap them out for other veggies like:
Tofu Stir Fry Recipe
Tofu / Main course
- 1 1/2 cup of brown rice or farro, uncooked
- 2 tbs of canola oil
- 14 oz extra firm tofu
- 2 cups of asparagus, chopped
- 2 cups of carrots, shredded
- 3 green of onions, minced
- 3 cloves garlic
- 2 tbs of fresh ginger
- 2 tbs of honey (more to taste)
- 1/2 cup of low sodium soy sauce
- 1/4 cup of water
- 1/4 cup of rice wine vinegar
- 1/4 cup of canola oil
For the garlic ginger stir fry sauce
Place all stir fry sauce ingredients in a food processor, blend until smooth and set it aside.
Start cooking your rice (or farro) by following the package instructions.
While your rice is cooking, prepare your tofu. Cut it in slices and press a piece of paper towel on each side to remove moisture. Wait a few minutes and repeat the process. (Tofu contains a lot of water, and we need to get rid of it as much as possible.)
Now, cut the tofu into small 1-1.5 inch cubes.
Heat a tablespoon of oil in a skillet over medium to high heat. Add the tofu and 1/4 of your stir fry sauce. It may splash a bit due to temperature differences, so make sure you have a pan cover on hand. Fry it for a few minutes or until the tofu is golden brown. Remove tofu and place it on paper towel lined plates to remove excess sauce and fat.
It's time for the veggies! Heat a tablespoon of oil in a cast iron wok. Add the asparagus and cook it for a few minutes with 1/4 of stir fry sauce, turn them continuously. Mix in the carrots and cook for a few more minutes. Set veggies aside.
Place half a bowl of cooked rice (or farro) on a plate, top it with veggies and tofu. Pour the remaining sauce over your vegetarian stir fry and sprinkle with green onions. Enjoy!
Tofu stir fry is an easy dish to make, as long as you're using the right kind of tofu. Let's look at this a little more closely.
Tofu stir fry - FAQ
What type of tofu is best for stir fry?
Pan-fried tofu is not only delicious, it's nutritious too. But choosing the right kind of tofu is imperative to make your tofu stir fry a success.
Firm or extra-firm tofu is the only kind that's going to work in your stir fry. You'll see in our recipe below exactly what you need to do with it and how to prepare it, but it's important to remove some of the moisture before you start cooking it.
Whatever you do, don't use soft or silken tofu. It won't work in this recipe because it contains far too much moisture and will simply break apart into bits when you try to fry it, adding lots of moisture to all the ingredients, which doesn't make for crispy delicious veggies.
How long does it take for tofu to fry?
The best way to fry tofu, and to know it's being done properly, is to use medium to high heat. Ideally, you want to stir fry tofu for about 15 mins, turning it over every 1-2 mins. This will ensure that the tofu is evenly cooked throughout. You'll know when the tofu is cooked properly when it becomes golden brown and crispy.
How do you dry tofu for stir fry?
Drying tofu is a wonderful way of making sure that the tofu absorbs all the delicious flavors of your stir fry. Here's how to dry out your tofu properly before frying it, if you don't have a tofu press:
- Place your tofu on a clean, dry dishcloth or a layer of paper towels.
- Place another layer of paper towels on top of the tofu.
- Place some moderate weight onto the tofu (not too heavy, you don't want to squash it). A cutting board or heavy bowl will do.
- Let the tofu sit for 30 mins.
There is a second way to dry out your tofu:
- Drain and cut up the tofu you want to use in your stir fry
- Put the tofu in a non-stick frying pan over medium heat; make sure to heat the pan up slowly so that the tofu cooks without sticking.
- You won't use any oil in the pan while doing this
- Cook the tofu until it is golden brown and then flip over and cook the other side
- Press the tofu with your spatula while it's cooking so that you hear a hissing sound and you see the water coming out of the tofu
- Once golden brown on both sides, it's ready to use in your stir fry recipe
Amount Per 100 grams
% Daily Value* Total Fat 4.8 g 7% | Saturated fat 0.7 g 3% | Polyunsaturated fat 2.7 g | Monounsaturated fat 1.1 g | Cholesterol 0 mg 0% | Sodium 7 mg 0% | Potassium 121 mg 3%| Total Carbohydrate 1.9 g 0% | Dietary fiber 0.3 g 1% | Protein 8 g 16% | Vitamin A 1% | Vitamin C 0% | Calcium 35% | Iron 30% | Vitamin D 0% | Vitamin B 60% | Cobalamin 0% | Magnesium 7%
The Last Word
Tofu stir fry is an excellent and healthy alternative to meat, chicken and fish. It's packed with protein and it is lower in fat and calories. It's great for weight loss, and it's an ideal meal for those veggie and vegan friends that you routinely have over for dinner, and never know what to cook.
Remember to use extra-firm tofu for this recipe so that you're never disappointed in the texture and taste. And why not play with some vegetable substitutes so that you can really make it your own?
We hope you enjoy this stir fry. Vegetarian or plant-based, this vegan stir fry recipe is sure to win you brownie points with all of your friends and family. Be sure you make enough for everyone who will want seconds!
Enjoyed this cast iron wok recipe? Check out our other recipes for vegan pad thai, bok choy stir fry, or vegetable stir fry.
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