One of the most common questions I hear about using tofu is how to make sure it gets that nice crispy and crunchy outside that only seems to be achieved in restaurants. Many of us (myself included until I learned this trick!) find that every time we attempt to make tofu, we end up with soft, unappetizing tofu that just doesn’t make the cut. We eat it because we are looking for a meat substitute or know its healthy, but it isn’t something we crave or desire, and definitely isn’t something we could every serve to any meat loving friends. Well this trick for cooking tofu will change things.
First up, buy the right tofu. Look for extra firm tofu that is packed in water and fresh. Look for a late expiration date and make sure it smells and looks fresh when you open it.
Next, cut the tofu into smaller pieces. This creates more surfaces to crisp up. I usually go with cubes, sticks, or large “steak” rectangles, usually no more than about ¼ inch thick for sticks/rectangle or ½ inch wide for squares.
Third press! This is the most important step for crispy tofu. You can use a fancy tofu press, but all you really need is a dry towel and something heavy. First, dry the tofu on both sides with the towel, getting it nice and dry. Then wrap it in the towel and place something heavy on top. Let it sit for 10 minutes. Dry it one more time and then you are ready to go.
The last step pan frying. Add around 1.5 tbsp. of oil to a large skillet over medium high or high heat. Once the oil is nice and hot, add the tofu in one single layer, giving the tofu some room. Cook for 3-5 minutes per side until it becomes nice and crispy. Flip and cook the other side. If you need to, do this in batches to give the tofu lots of room. Crowding the pan will result in softer tofu.
That’s it! From there you can add your favorite sauce to add flavor. You can also marinate the tofu between step 2 and 3 if you want to add flavor.
Ready to try it? Here is one of my favorite simple recipes for Crispy Salt and Pepper Tofu.
Crispy Tofu with Salt and Pepper
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Cut the tofu into ½ inch cubes. Dry with a towel and then press for 10 minutes. (see instructions above).
Dry the tofu one more time.
Heat the oil in a large wok, skillet, or cast-iron pan over medium high-high heat.
Mix together the cornstarch, salt, pepper, and sugar. Toss the tofu cubes with this mixture.
Add the tofu to the pan, in batches if needed, in a single layer. Cook for 3-4 minutes per side until nice and crispy.
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
The Nutritional Values provided are estimates only and may vary based on the preparation method.
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