For a long time, I was pretty intimidated by tofu. I enjoyed it in restaurants, and when I lived in Japan, but whenever I tried to cook it always felt like too much work, and the result was never that good. But then I learned this easy, game-changing method of stir frying tofu from minimalist baker.
The secret is baking the plain tofu first to dry it out and give it a golden crust, before adding it to the stir fry along with your sauce of choice. This helps the tofu maintain some structure when stir frying, crisps up the outside without using any oil, maximizes the sauce ingredients, and keeps the center tender. Brilliant, right? And really easy. And the best part – no pressing required!
The sauce is simple and only has a few ingredients, but they are very flavorful. Resist the temptation to overcomplicate this dish. Stir fry should be simple and quick. Don’t be intimidated by the extra step of baking the tofu, while it’s baking, you can whip up the sauce and prep your veggies.
Tips for Success
- Use firm or extra-firm tofu for stir fry. Other types will be too soft and will fall apart.
- Be sure to use fresh ginger, fresh garlic. There is no substitute.
- Use toasted sesame oil, not the light colored variety used for salads. Toasted sesame oil is packed with flavor, and lends most of the flavor to this dish.
- Make sure the pan is hot when you add the stir fry veggies.
- When baking the tofu, sure to use
parchmentpaper to prevent sticking.
- Use a heavy bottomed skillet (like
cast iron) or a wok over medium high heat. The key to not sticking is to add vegetables to a hot pan with a little bit of hot oil. They should sizzle when you drop them in. The oil should to be hot before you start cooking, but reduced to a medium heat once you start cooking.
- Build the flavor by adding sauce at multiple points, don’t add the sauce all at once.
- Cut all of the vegetables to a similar size to ensure they cook evenly.
- Add vegetables that take longer to cook at the beginning (such as onions, carrots, green beans, and peppers) and then add quick-cooking vegetables that only need a minute or two toward the end (such as broccoli florets, snap peas, cabbage, and bok choy)
Good Veggies for Stir Fry
These veggies are best for stir fry because they cook quickly (4-6 minutes) in a hot skillet. Stir fry really shouldn’t take much longer than that.
- Bok choy
- Bell peppers
- Snap peas
- Green beans
- Purple or green cabbage
Other Quick Dinner Recipes
- Easy Weeknight Cashew Cabbage Stir Fry
- 5-Minute Garlic Beans & Greens
- Simple Weeknight Stir Fry w/ Easy Peanut Sauce
- Quick Sautéed Garlicky Mushrooms & Spinach
- Easy Weeknight Curry (Vegan)
If you make this easy tofu stir fry, leave a star rating or comment below! Your feedback is so helpful to me and other readers. You can also tag me in your meal pics on Instagram @katiesconsciouskitchen, or join my free private facebook group to share your creations and inspire others! I love to see what you all are making.
Easy Sesame Ginger Tofu Stir Fry
- 3-4 cups stir fry vegetables, e.g. cabbage, onions, peppers, greens, carrots, celery, broccoli, mushrooms, peas, etc.
- 1 package firm tofu, or extra firm
- 1 tsp neutral flavored oil, I use canola oil
- sprinkle of sesame seeds, optional, to garnish
- green onions, optional, to garnish
Sesame Ginger Sauce
- 1 tbsp soy sauce
- 1 tbsp dark toasted sesame oil
- 1 tsp grated fresh ginger
- 4 garlic cloves, minced or pressed
- 1 tsp chili garlic sauce, optional, for heat
- 1 tsp arrowroot powder, or cornstarch, optional, for a thicker sauce
Bake the Tofu
- Pressing tofu is annoying. Let's just bake the water out instead, shall we?
- Preheat the oven to 400°F.
- Gently squeeze out as much water from the tofu as is easy, holding the tofu in both hands over the sink.
- Cut the tofu into 1-inch cubes and place them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake for 15-20 minutes, until a golden crust has formed and they have dried out somewhat.
- Remove from the oven, transfer the tofu to a bowl, and set aside.
- Heat a small splash of canola oil (or whatever you have) in a heavy bottomed skillet (like cast iron) or a wok over medium high heat. It's important with stir fry to add the vegetables to a hot pan with hot oil. You can test if it's ready by flicking a drop of water into the pan to see if it pops and sizzles.
- Add the veggies and stir continuously for a minute or so.
- Reduce the heat to medium and scoot the veggies over to make some room for the tofu.
- Add the pre-baked tofu into the pan and drizzle some sauce over it. Gently toss to coat.
- Continue stir frying the veggies and the tofu for a few more minutes, mixing them once the tofu has been well coated in sauce. If there's any sauce leftover, add the rest in.
- Serve with a scoop of rice if desired, and sprinkle with your desired garnish.