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Crispy Pan Fried Tofu

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Crispy Pan Fried Tofu is a fabulous vegetarian snack or appetizer. The crunchy golden exterior is the perfect complement to the soft texture of the tofu. Paired with a bold & spicy dipping sauce, you’ll want to eat these straight out of the skillet!

This post and step-by-step photos were updated March 3, 2019
Crispy Pan Fried Tofu, finished, on serving plate with dipping sauce

I’m all about texture when it comes to food. So I have no problems writing off an entire ingredient, simply based on how it feels when I take a bite.

That’s the way I was with tofu…you couldn’t pay me to even try it until a few years ago. My first taste was at a restaurant, only because it was fried and my server raved about it. It was then another 18 months before I bought it at the grocery store, and only because my parents (who are vegetarian) were in town.

I’m working to expand my recipe collection for my readers who follow different food lifestyles. I mastered Homemade Falafel, my first vegan recipe. I have a number of vegetarian recipes on the blog. And I’m including more tips on ingredient swaps.

While tofu isn’t limited to a specific food lifestyle, it is a major shift from my typical recipes. And since nothing is bad when it’s fried, I jumped in head-first with Crispy Pan Fried Tofu

WHY I LOVE THIS RECIPE
  • It’s perfect as a snack or appetizer
  • Panko bread crumbs add a fabulous, light and crunchy bite to the tofu
  • It’s easy to make
overhead shot of Crispy Pan Fried Tofu, on plate, with dipping sauce
ALL ABOUT TOFU

What is tofu? Tofu is made of condensed soy milk that is pressed into solid blocks in a process similar to making cheese. 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. It’s also vegan and gluten-free.

Tofu is naturally vegan and gluten-free

How do you pick the right tofu? Most of the tofu I’ve seen at restaurants was soft, and kind of jiggly. The only jiggly food I eat is jello. But I’ve since learned that there are several options

Types of Tofu

  • SILKEN – Smooth texture, kind of gelatinous
  • REGULAR Denser texture, spongy feel

Both types come in Soft, Firm, and Extra Firm. And there are specific ways to use each one

  • Soft or soft silken – dishes with a soft, creamy texture
  • Firm or silken firm – for stir fry
  • Extra firm tofu – when the tofu needs to stay together without crumbling
2 pictures - tofu in packaging, tofu out of packaging
INGREDIENTS FOR THE PERFECT CRISPY PAN FRIED TOFU
PREPARING YOUR TOFU

Tofu needs to be “pressed”. Cut the tofu into about 1″ x 1.5″ pieces. A 14oz package will yield 40-44 pieces. Place a couple of paper towels on a plate. Top with tofu pieces. Top with more paper towels. Finish with a weighted object like 28oz tomato sauce cans or a baking dish

Press tofu for at least 30 minutes. I like to replace the paper towels at 30 minutes and press for another 20. But that is personal preference.

2 pictures, tofu cut into pieces (left), tofu pressing (right)
BREADING STATION FOR CRISPY PAN FRIED TOFU

Create a breading station with 3 containers. I use plastic containers with a lid, so I can shake to fully coat every piece of tofu.

#1 – cornstarch and seasonings

overhead shot of tofu pieces in container with cornstarch mixture

#2 – egg wash

overhead shot of tofu in egg wash

#3 – Panko bread crumbs

overhead shot of tofu in bread crumbs
PAN FRY THE TOFU
  • Add enough oil for a depth of 1/4″ in a large skillet. Make sure oil gets hot, or tofu will steam and not fry.
  • Carefully add tofu to oil and cook for about 2 minutes per side, until golden brown.
  • Transfer tofu to paper towels to drain, and immediately sprinkle lightly with coarse sea salt
overhead shots of tofu frying in skillet
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

How far ahead can I make Crispy Pan Fried Tofu? It is best eaten immediately. The tofu will hold heat well for about 15 minutes. Once it gets cool, it does not taste very good.

How long will Crispy Pan Fried Tofu last? I don’t recommend eating these as leftovers. They won’t reheat well and will get kind of soggy.

What if I plan to only make half of the recipe? Put the remaining tofu, plus all of the liquid, in an airtight container. In the fridge, it will last for up to 5 days.

Can I use flour instead of cornstarch? Yes, but I find that cornstarch adheres better to the tofu

Is there an alternative to egg wash? You can use soy milk or water. I have not personally tested this method, so I cannot vouch for the results

What kind of oil should I use for frying? You want a light, flavorless oil with a high smoke point. Canola oil, avocado oil, or corn oil are good options.

Tofu piece with bite taken out, in dipping sauce
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Crispy Pan Fried Tofu - Karyl's Kulinary Krusade

Crispy Pan Fried Tofu

Yield: 40 pieces
Prep Time: 35 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 45 minutes

Crispy Pan Fried Tofu is a fabulous vegetarian snack or appetizer. The crunchy golden exterior is the perfect complement to the soft texture of the tofu. Paired with a bold & spicy dipping sauce, you'll want to eat these straight out of the skillet!

Ingredients

TOFU

DIPPING SAUCE

Instructions

  1. Combine all dipping sauce ingredients in small bowl, and mix well. Set aside
  2. Take tofu out of package and discard water. Slice tofu into chunks about 1"x1.5". For one package, you will get 40-44 pieces.
  3. Line a large plate with 2 paper towels, and place tofu pieces on top. Cover tofu with 2 more paper towels. Place a small baking dish on top of the paper towels, and press down lightly.
  4. Press tofu for 30 minutes. If desired, replace paper towels and press for another 15-20 minutes
  5. While tofu presses create a 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
  6. 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
  7. Add enough oil for a depth of about 1/4" in a large skillet. When oil is hot, add tofu.
  8. Don't overcrowd the skillet, or the tofu will steam and not fry. I use a 10" skillet, and fry the tofu in 2 batches.
  9. Once one side is golden brown, flip tofu and fry on other side
  10. 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

Notes

If you don't use the whole package of tofu immediately: reserve the water and store the remaining tofu and water in an airtight container for up to 5 days. 

Use extra firm tofu, as it slices and fries well

Press tofu for at least 30 minutes to remove as much water as possible

Don't overcrowd the skillet, or the tofu will steam and not fry. I use a 10" skillet, and fry the tofu in 2 batches. 

Don’t make Crispy Pan Fried Tofu too far ahead. It won’t taste good at room temperature, and it will start to get soggy

 

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 40 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 32Total Fat: 1gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 1gCholesterol: 9mgSodium: 188mgCarbohydrates: 4gFiber: 1gSugar: 1gProtein: 1g

Nutrient values are estimates only. Variations may occur due to product availability and food preparation. Nutrition may vary based on methods of preparation, origin and freshness of ingredients, etc

overhead shot of finished product in skillet
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