If you’re anything like me, you crave comfort food on a regular basis. This recipe for vegan tofu stir fry is exactly that. It tastes exactly like a tofu stir fry I used to get as a teenager in my local city. But, it’s a lot healthier and less greasy.
The best thing about this recipe is how customizable and versatile it is. You can add different veggies or spices and it still tastes great. The key to making this delicious stir-fry is preparing the tofu properly. And, it’s not complicated at all!
Tofu Stir Fry Tips
- Prepare the tofu first. Slice your tofu into 1-inch cubes and lay individual pieces flat in a skillet coated with toasted sesame oil. There is no need to press the tofu in this recipe!
- Use high-quality tofu and ingredients for the best texture and flavor.
- Try adding additional vegetables such as Thai chiles for spice, snap peas, mushrooms, or kale. Experiment with different flavor and textures.
- If you don’t have lemongrass paste, you can use an inch of fresh lemongrass as well. Just make thin slices at the base of the lemongrass until the purple disappears. The lemongrass pieces with purple in the middle are the most delicious and tender. As you go further up the stalk, it becomes tough and difficult to cook with.
- Garnish with sliced green onions, fresh herbs, hot sauce, or sesame seeds.
Ingredients needed for this tofu stir fry
- Tofu – Use firm or extra firm tofu, organic if possible. There is no need to press the tofu before frying for this recipe.
- Toasted sesame oil – Make sure you are using toasted sesame oil and not regular oil. It adds a lot more flavor and the tofu fries up perfectly in it.
- Liquid aminos – You can also use soy sauce or coconut aminos. This is the base for the sauce.
- Maple syrup – Use 1-2 tbsp. of maple syrup depending on your taste preferences. I like a good balance of sweet and salty and typically use about 1.5 tbsp. You can also use sugar or coconut sugar instead.
- Ginger – Freshly grated ginger makes the best flavor in the stir fry. But, you can use powdered as well.
- Lemongrass – If you don’t have lemongrass paste, use fresh lemongrass. See the tips above for getting the best flavor and texture.
- Onion – Use white onion or sweet onion for this stir fry. Red onion will result in too strong of a flavor.
- Garlic – I typically use 1-2 cloves of garlic in the recipe, but there is always room for more (in my opinion).
- Broccoli – I like crunchy broccoli in my stir fry, but you can add peas, kale, mushrooms, or any other veggies you like.
- Carrot – I love the way carrot ribbons look when peeled with a veggie peeler. And, they cook a lot faster and contribute to the sweet flavor of this recipe.
- Lime juice – Added off the heat, the addition of lime juice brings in acidity and balances all the flavors together.
How to make your tofu crispy
There is nothing worse than soggy tofu in a stir-fry. Making your tofu nice and crispy definitely takes some practice. Over the years, I have learned the best way to make sure your tofu crisps up perfectly.
- Choose the right kind of tofu – Extra firm tofu has less water so it will crisp up much easier.
- Cut it into thin slices – The thicker the slicer, the longer it takes to get crispy.
- Press your tofu – If time allows, use a tofu press or a heavy can to squeeze out extra moisture.
- Coat with cornstarch – Coating your tofu pieces with cornstarch before you fry them helps to create a nice and crispy crust.
- Use high heat – Using a higher heat and a high heat oil will help crisp up each piece as well.
- Do not overcrowd the pan – This is easy to do. Make sure there is plenty of space between each piece of tofu. You don’t want them touching each other!
- Marinate the tofu – Not only does this add a ton of flavor, it also absorbs the flavors and helps to crisp it up.
- Turn the tofu – Be sure to turn your tofu pieces regularly so they get crisp and brown.
- Be patient! – It is tempting to remove the tofu slices, but you want to leave them undisturbed to help them get that crunchy exterior.
Crispy, Tasty Vegan Tofu Stir Fry
- Large skillet
- 15 oz firm tofu
- ½ white onion chopped
- 2 cloves garlic chopped
- 2 large carrots
- 1.5 cups broccoli
- 1 bell pepper chopped
- 1 tsp lemongrass paste or fresh chopped lemongrass optional
- 2 tbsp. toasted sesame oil for frying
- 1 tbsp. lime juice
- ¼ liquid aminos, soy sauce or tamari
- 1 tsp fresh grated ginger
- 1-2 tbsp. maple syrup based on preference of sweetness
- 1 tsp. black pepper
Make the sauce
- Whisk together soy sauce, grated ginger and maple syrup in a small bowl and set aside.
Fry the tofu
- Heat a large wok or skillet over medium-high heat with 1 tbsp. of toasted sesame oil.
- Drain tofu and slice into 1-inch cubes (no need to press beforehand).
- Arrange tofu in single layer and fry on each side, about 5 minutes or until golden brown. You made need to work in batches adding a bit more sesame oil as you go. Set cooked/fried tofu aside.
Cook the stir-fry
- Add onion, broccoli, and bell pepper to now empty skillet. Stir fry for 5 minutes or until onion begins to soften and turn translucent.
- While the onions cook, use a vegetable peeler to make carrot ribbons and set aside.
- Add garlic and lemongrass if using and stir fry for an additional minute, being careful not to let garlic burn.
- Add the carrots and sauce, stirring to completely coat. Simmer lightly for 3-5 minutes.
- Add in cooked tofu and stir till heated throughout.
- Off of heat, stir in 1 tbsp. of lime juice.
- Serve over rice and enjoy!