Crispy Pan Fried Tofu has a golden, crunchy exterior, and soft inside. Combine these beauties in the bold and spicy sauce for a wonderful snack or appetizer. You’ll want to eat these straight out of the skillet!
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If you’d told me a year ago that I would have a tofu recipe on the blog, I would have laughed in your face. Heck, I refused to even try tofu until about 3 years ago. I went adventurous at a restaurant, and the “fried” sold me. It was pretty good, but I still had no plans to try it at home. I’ve had tofu a couple of times since then, still all at restaurants. The only time I have tofu in my fridge is when my parents come to town, since they’re vegetarian.
Last week I posted my first vegan recipe, Homemade Falafel. Again, something I never thought I’d have on the blog. I’m about as far away from vegan as they come, but I’m trying to expand my recipe collection for friends and readers who eat lighter, and those who are following different food lifestyles. So about a week ago I decided to put that adventurous cap back on again, and tackle Tofu.
WHAT IS TOFU?
Tofu is made of condensed soy milk. It originated in China, and is used predominantly in Asian and vegetarian cooking. Tofu is high in protein, iron and calcium, and low in calories.
There are several different varieties of tofu. For the texture, you can choose from silken or regular. Silken has a very smooth texture, and works well for creamy and blended foods. Regular tofu is more dense, and has a spongy texture. Within each texture, you can choose from soft, medium, firm, extra firm, and super firm.
I’m a huge texture eater, and that was a lot of my hesitation with tofu. I think I’ve seen soft or medium in restaurants…tofu that basically kind of jiggles. The only jiggly food I want to eat is jello.
Nothing fried can be bad…so I decided to start my tofu-at-home experience with Crispy Pan Fried Tofu
I still had that texture thing in the back of my brain, so I took a deep breath and closed my eyes before I took a bite of the Crispy Pan Fried Tofu. Then I proceeded to eat the entire batch in record time!
INGREDIENTS FOR THE PERFECT CRISPY PAN FRIED TOFU
- Extra Firm Tofu – has the spongiest texture, and also the firmest. So it slices and fries well
- Seasonings – Onion Powder, Garlic Powder, Cayenne Pepper, salt and pepper.
- Panko Bread Crumbs
- Avocado Oil – has a very high smoke point, plus a beautiful, silky texture. Canola Oil is a good substitute
Tofu is naturally vegan and gluten free. To keep Crispy Pan Fried Tofu gluten free, use Gluten Free Panko Bread Crumbs. To keep them vegan, use soy milk or water rather than egg wash. I have not tried this egg wash substitute method.
I use a large, nonstick skillet to cook the Crispy Pan Fried Tofu. Yes, you can deep fry them, and it’s a little faster. However, the pan-frying method works just as well, uses a fraction of the oil, and still develops the gorgeous, golden brown color.
Crispy Pan Fried Tofu is so delicious. The Panko bread crumbs create such a wonderful, crunchy exterior, and the extra firm tofu retains its bite. Tofu has no flavor on its own, so the seasonings make a big difference. Even after 15 minutes, the Crispy Pan Fried Tofu is still very warm and crunchy. I would not recommend making it too far ahead, because it won’t taste good at room temperature, and it will get soggy. And nobody wants soggy fried food.
DIPPING SAUCE FOR CRISPY PAN FRIED TOFU
Last, but certainly not least, the dipping sauce. I basically threw together some of the Asian ingredients I always have in my pantry, and created a glorious, spicy, flavorful sauce. So delicious that I marinated some shrimp in the extra dipping sauce the next day!
I have to admit, I’m extremely proud of my first tofu creation. Simple? Yes. Fried? Of course. Delicious? You know it! These are perfect as a snack, appetizer, or even a main course. I’ll definitely branch out to more tofu recipes…in baby steps
SHOP THIS RECIPE
- 12 ounces extra firm tofu
- 1/4 cup cornstarch
- 2 teaspoons onion powder
- 2 teaspoons garlic powder
- 2 teaspoons cayenne pepper
- 2 teaspoon fresh cracked black pepper
- 1 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
- 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
- 1 Tablespoon water
- 3/4 cup Panko bread crumbs
- Avocado oil or canola oil, for frying
- 1/2 cup low sodium soy sauce
- 1 Tablespoon rice wine vinegar
- 1 Tablespoon raw honey (optional)
- 1 green onion, chopped
- 2 cloves raw garlic, minced
- 1/2 teaspoon toasted sesame seeds
Combine all dipping sauce ingredients in small bowl, and mix well. Set aside
Take tofu out of packaging, and discard liquid. Slice tofu pieces about 1/2" wide by 1" long. For one 12-ounce package, you will get about 40 pieces.
Lay 3 paper towels in large baking dish, and place tofu on paper towels. Top with 3 more paper towels. Place a smaller baking dish on top, and press down lightly. Remove tofu after 30 minutes, and pat all sides one more time with fresh paper towels
While tofu presses, create breading station. Add cornstarch, onion powder, garlic powder, cayenne, salt and pepper in one bowl, and mix well. Combine eggs and water in another bowl. In third bowl, add bread crumbs
Toss tofu pieces first in cornstarch mixture, then egg wash, then bread crumbs. Make sure to fully coat all sides of each piece. Press the bread crumbs firmly into tofu
Add enough oil for a depth of about 1/4" in a large skillet. When oil is hot, add tofu. Make sure to space them a little bit apart, so they fry and don't steam. Once one side is golden brown, flip tofu
As tofu finishes cooking, remove from heat and drain on paper towels. Sprinkle with a little more sea salt as they come out of the oil. Serve immediately