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Pan-Fried Sesame Garlic Tofu

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If you aren't totally 100% on board with tofu yet, this pan-fried sesame garlic tofu will have you head over heels in love with it! #tofu #tofurecipe #vegan #veganrecipes

If you’ve claimed yourself not a tofu fan, you probably just haven’t had tofu the right way. I bet you if you had this pan-fried sesame garlic tofu, you would change your tune on tofu!

I have been loving tofu in my dishes lately.

It’s a great source of protein and low in fat. It’s so tender too and it soaks up all the flavor of the dish. It’s a great blank slate and super versatile. Think of it like the vegetarian’s chicken, haha

I mean, kind of is. We add chicken to our dishes to flavor it up and have it soak up the flavors of the dish. Tofu is basically doing the same.

I’ve laid out the steps below on how to prep and cook tofu. Alternatively, I’ve created a tofu guide that helps demystify the fear of cooking with tofu!

If you aren't totally 100% on board with tofu yet, this pan-fried sesame garlic tofu will have you head over heels in love with it! #tofu #tofurecipe #vegan #veganrecipes

What kind of tofu do you need?

I love getting extra-firm tofu.

If you get soft, it just falls apart completely in the skillet.

How do you get the tofu so crispy? What’s the secret?

You gotta drain it well and cornstarch!

So, kind of like my eggplant parmesan recipe where you pull the liquid out of the eggplant, you gotta pull the liquid out of the tofu.

Tofu comes in a package and it’s just sitting in water.

And like I mentioned above, tofu soaks up all the flavor in a dish so you can imagine how much liquid tofu is soaking up while sitting in the package.

To get the liquid of out of the tofu, you gotta press it.

It’s actually easier than you think; there’s hardly any work at all involved!

If you aren't totally 100% on board with tofu yet, this pan-fried sesame garlic tofu will have you head over heels in love with it! #tofu #tofurecipe #vegan #veganrecipes

How do you press the tofu to get the liquid out?

You start by opening the package of the tofu and then holding the tofu in place, tip the package upside down so all the water is drained.

Definitely do this over a sink!

Then, on a small plate, place two sheets of paper towels on the plate.

Place the tofu on top.

Then place two more sheets of paper towels on top of the tofu.

Find something heavy like a cast iron skillet and place it on top of the tofu.

Let that sit for about 30 minutes but coming back to check on it halfway through and change out the paper towel.

ALTERNATIVELY and more eco-friendly: place a wire baking rack on top of a rimmed baking sheet. Place tofu on top and then put a heavy object on top and let drain for 30 minutes.

This essentially presses out the liquid of the tofu and gives you a much better way to work with it!

And ensuring it gets crispy and not soggy!

If you aren't totally 100% on board with tofu yet, this pan-fried sesame garlic tofu will have you head over heels in love with it! #tofu #tofurecipe #vegan #veganrecipes

Tips for getting crispy tofu

All the above ways will definitely help to ensure a crispy exterior but also what you use and the method you cook will help too!

First, definitely do the pressing.

Second, coat the tofu in cornstarch.

It’s messy but it’s worth it.

Third, once you get it in the skillet, DON’T TOUCH IT!

As with all things (browning meats, crisping up the bottoms of potstickers, making fall off the bone ribs), leave it alone and let it do its thing.

If you keep moving it around in the pan, it won’t have the time to brown at all.

*Getting several questions about how to get all sides brown if instructed to not touch it. I mean don’t touch it initially for 3-4 minutes then you can flip and work on another side, etc. until they are all browned/crispy on all sides. Of course you have to touch it to get all sides brown!

When I say don’t touch it, it just means don’t keep scooting it around or checking on it. That won’t give it enough time to sit in the skillet to get crispy.

The simple ingredients in this pan-fried sesame garlic tofu

There are only a handful of ingredients for the sauce that coats this tofu dish!

  • Soy sauce
  • Sambal oelek
  • Rice vinegar
  • Honey
  • Sesame oil
If you aren't totally 100% on board with tofu yet, this pan-fried sesame garlic tofu will have you head over heels in love with it! #tofu #tofurecipe #vegan #veganrecipes

Grab the recipe below and make this pan-fried sesame garlic tofu tonight! Serve it with a side of rice and vegetables or make a tofu bowl!

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If you aren't totally 100% on board with tofu yet, this pan-fried sesame garlic tofu will have you head over heels in love with it! #tofu #tofurecipe #vegan #veganrecipes

Pan-Fried Sesame Garlic Tofu

This crispy pan-fried sesame garlic tofu is going to change your mind about tofu almost instantly!
4.6 from 191 votes
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 45 minutes
Servings: 2
Author: Julie Chiou
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Ingredients 

  • 14 ounces extra firm tofu
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • ½ tablespoon sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil

For the sauce

  • ¼ cup low-sodium soy sauce
  • ¼ cup water
  • 2 teaspoons honey
  • 1 ½ teaspoons sambal oelek, (if you like it less spicy, stick with 1 teaspoon)
  • 1 teaspoon garlic paste, (see notes)
  • ½ teaspoon rice wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch

Instructions

  • Place two paper towels on a plate then place the entire block of tofu (drained from its packaging liquid) onto the plate. Place two more paper towels on top of the tofu then put a heavy item on top. Not TOO heavy that it would completely crush the tofu but heavy enough that it can squeeze out liquid.
    I like using a cast iron skillet.
    Leave for 30 minutes and halfway through, change out the paper towels.
    ALTERNATIVELY and more eco-friendly: place a wire baking rack on top of a rimmed baking sheet. Place tofu on top and then put a heavy object on top and let drain for 30 minutes.
  • Once the tofu has drained, slice in half then into cubes and place into a large bowl. Sprinkle cornstarch on top and gently toss with your hands to ensure all tofu pieces are covered.
  • In a large skillet, add sesame oil and vegetable oil then bring up to medium-high heat.
  • Once oil is heated up, add the tofu to the skillet and let brown on all sides.
  • In the meantime, whisk together the ingredients for the sauce.
  • Once the tofu has browned and crisped up on all sides, add the sauce to the skillet and it should start to thicken immediately. Toss the tofu around to coat then remove from heat.
  • Serve and enjoy!

Recipe Notes

Sesame seeds and scallions are garnish. You can add them if you want but they were mainly added for aesthetic reasons.
A note on sesame oil and vegetable oil: some people have been saying sesame oil has a low smoke point and should not be used to cook/fry. While I haven’t had issues with this (you aren’t frying the tofu) and nothing has smoked/burned, I have adjusted the recipe to use 1/2 tablespoon of sesame oil in conjunction with vegetable oil to help with the smoking points. You can omit the vegetable oil and just use all sesame oil if you want. Just depends on what you’re comfortable with.
I say to use garlic paste because you aren’t cooking the sauce long and if you use fresh garlic then it may still be raw and have a bite to it. However, you are more than welcome to use 1 clove of freshly minced garlic!

YOUR NOTES

NUTRITION FACTS

Serving: 1 serving | Calories: 313 kcal | Carbohydrates: 17 g | Protein: 19 g | Fat: 16 g

This website provides approximate nutrition information for convenience and as a courtesy only. Nutrition information can vary for a variety of reasons. For the most precise nutritional data use your preferred nutrition calculator based on the actual ingredients you used in the recipe.

Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: Asian
Keyword: garlic, sesame, soy sauce, tofu
Recipe Rating




Michael

Sunday 15th of May 2022

the real recipe is at punchfork - looks like that's where the pictures came from, too

Punchfork

Tuesday 17th of May 2022

@Michael, this recipe is most definitely Julie's. Punchfork is a search engine that links back to original recipes like this one.

Julie Chiou

Monday 16th of May 2022

before you go accusing content creators of stealing their own content...please read how punchfork and sites alike work: Punchfork is updated continuously from a curated selection of food bloggers and websites. New recipes appear usually just minutes after they're published.

Julie Chiou

Monday 16th of May 2022

you're funny. i am the original author of this, including the photography - punchfork is a website aggregate where they literally pull content from websites onto their own and call it "theirs"

Shannon

Saturday 30th of April 2022

I’ve never made tofu before and was scared to give it a shot. This was my 1st recipe and I’m blown away! Reheats well too! I didn’t realize that I didn’t have some of the ingredients until I was throwing it together. I had to sub brown rice flour for the cornstarch (we usually use arrowroot powder) and I used coconut aminos instead of the soy (taste the same, less salt). I now have my shopping list updated so I can make it again. This really came out so good, even my husband approved and this is so far outside of his comfort zone. Thank you so so so very much!!

Nicollette

Friday 29th of April 2022

This was so good!!! Fried my tofu in a little but more oil to ensure maximum crispiness and to make sure it wouldn’t stick onto my cast-iron, and added a tad more sambal to my liking. I’ve made this recipe twice in a week, and making it again today. 10/10!

Danielle

Wednesday 27th of April 2022

Excellent recipe, thank you for all the tips!

A. R.

Saturday 23rd of April 2022

This ended up being really good. I have issues with tofu texture, so I cut my pieces rather small and spent extra time cooking. The sauce definitely pulls the meal together.