The Best Tofu You’ve Ever Had with a Charred Green Bean Salad

I’m pretty sure meals like this are my absolute favorite. My favs!

Vertical image of a salad on a plate on top of a printed napkin with dressing and fresh green onions on the side, with text in the center and bottom of the image.

When you combine greens and charred veggies, a complete-protein grain like nutty quinoa, and some fried tofu, you’ve definitely got a winner.

Vertical image of green beans in a strainer on a white wooden surface.

Okay. How many of you fell off the bandwagon when I mentioned that fried soy stuff? I know – this ingredient is such a polarizing subject. People seem to either love it or they hate it.

Vertical image of whole green onions on a white wooden surface.

I’m in both camps: I love it when it’s done right, I really hate it when it’s done wrong.

This time, though, I did it right. And this is probably the best tofu I’ve ever had.

Vertical image of hands prepping fresh green beans on a wooden cutting board.

For those of you who have fallen (I seriously just typed “falled” there, guys… that’s embarrassing) off the bandwagon when I mentioned it was fried, here’s where I sit on that subject:

  • Fried food is tasty.
  • Tofu is healthy.
  • If I’m going to eat it (because it’s healthy), it may as well be tasty.

Vertical image of a fresh salad with fresh ingredients in a dark bowl on a white wooden surface.

Understand? Good!

Make my recipe below, and you’ll reconsider any aversion to this ingredient. Or the method I use to cook it. And read on beyond the recipe for my step-by-step frying technique!

Print
Horizontal image of a plate of tofu and green bean salad on a patterned napkin.

Fried Tofu with Charred Green Bean Salad


  • Author: Raquel Smith
  • Prep Time: 1 hour
  • Cook Time: 45 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour, 45 minutes
  • Yield: 4 servings 1x

Description

This just might be the best tofu recipe ever. We serve marinated and fried tofu cubes on top of a charred green bean and squash salad.


Scale

Ingredients

For the Tofu:

  • 1/4 cup soy sauce (or tamari, if gluten-free)
  • 1/4 cup rice vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon chili paste
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 box firm tofu
  • Vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour (or almond flour, if gluten-free)
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine-grain salt

For the Salad:

  • 1 pound green beans, trimmed
  • 2 medium zucchini, cut into half-moons
  • 3 green onions, thinly sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 cup cooked quinoa
  • 4 cups torn kale
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts

Instructions

For the Tofu:

  1. Combine the soy sauce, rice vinegar, sesame oil, chili paste, ginger, and garlic powder in a small bowl. Mix well with a whisk.
  2. Drain the tofu and cut in half. Place the halves in one quart-sized airtight plastic bag. Add the marinade. Carefully seal, then shake until the marinade is evenly distributed on the tofu. Marinate for at least one hour, or overnight.
  3. When the tofu has marinated, drain the marinade into a measuring cup or small bowl. Reserve the marinade. Cut the tofu into 1/2-inch cubes.
  4. Toss the cornstarch, flour, and salt in a medium bowl. Add the cubes of tofu and toss until evenly coated.
  5. Heat 1-inch of vegetable oil in a large pot to 350°F. Carefully add the tofu in small batches to allow each cube to cook evenly. Cook for about 3-4 minutes, until golden. Remove to a plate covered with paper towels to drain.

For the Salad and Assembly:

  1. Heat a pan over medium-high heat. Add the green beans and cook for just a couple minutes, until bright green, about 1-2 minutes. Add the squash and most of the green onion. Toss occasionally, but not too often, until slightly charred, about 5-8 minutes. Add the minced garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.
  2. Assemble the salad. Divide the kale on the bottom of four plates. Add the quinoa, vegetables, and tofu on top. Garnish with the remaining green onions, pine nuts, and a splash of the reserved tofu marinade. Serve and enjoy!
  • Category: Salad
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: Vegetarian

Keywords: vegetarian, gluten-free, tofu, quinoa, kale

Cooking by the Numbers: How to Fry Amazing Tofu

Read below to get my easy and super delicious method for preparing fried, vegan nougats of goodness!

Vertical image of a pile of fried tofu.

Step 1 – Marinate

Marinate the tofu in a super delicious marinade. This takes about an hour, but you can do it the night before if you want to be super fantastically organized.

I marinate in an airtight plastic bag because it does the best job of surrounding the block with the marinade. A sandwich-sized bag usually works just fine, but you can use a quart-sized bag if needed.

Step 2 – Cut and Coat

Drain (for this recipe, make sure to keep the marinade!), and cut into bite-sized chunks. Toss in a mixture of cornstarch, flour, and a bit of salt. This is what gives the tofu a nice, crunchy exterior.

Step 3 – Heat the Oil

Heat about 1 inch of vegetable oil in a large pot. The taller the sides, the better. I use the pot that I normally boil pasta.

The temperature of the vegetable oil is pretty important, so I recommend using a candy thermometer to keep it on track.

If you don’t have a candy thermometer, then you can eyeball it (but I still recommend the thermometer). Just make sure that when you add the tofu it sizzles decently, but not enough to jump out of the pot.

Oil gets hot very rapidly when nothing is in it, and will drop in temperature quickly when things are added, so keep this in mind.

Step 4 – Cook

Add the tofu in a few batches if necessary. Add as many pieces as you can without forcing them to touch each other in the pot. They like to have a little room to breathe.

Cook the little guys for 3-4 minutes, until they are a light golden brown color. When frying, the color will darken a few shades after it is removed from the oil, so be sure not to leave it in too long.

Step 5 – Drain and Cool

Take out of the pot with a slotted spoon and place it on a plate covered with a few layers of paper towels. You’ll see the excess oil soak out the bottom of the towels. Now, go get to eatin’!

The rest of this salad is a total cinch. Pretty much, you’ll cook some quinoa, stir-fry some veggies, and pile it all up on top of a bunch of torn kale. Spinach also works, for the kale-averse.

Seriously – It’s the Best!

Be sure to use this step-by-step guide to my frying process! You can totally do it without a deep fryer. 

And, no, you’re not going to burn your house down.

Promise.

Vertical image of a hand pouring dressing in a fresh salad.

If you use this recipe and my cooking technique for frying, let me know how you love it – or even how much you hate it – by rating my recipe and leaving a comment!

And for more amazing recipes featuring everyone’s favorite fluffy soy ingredient, try these out:

Photos by Raquel Smith, © Ask the Experts, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. See our TOS for more details. Originally published on June 18th, 2015. Last updated: January 24, 2019 at 18:09 pm. With additional writing and editing by Nikki Cervone.

Nutritional information derived from a database of known generic and branded foods and ingredients and was not compiled by a registered dietitian or submitted for lab testing. It should be viewed as an approximation.

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About Raquel Smith

Raquel is a whole foods enthusiast, an avid mountain biker, and a dog lover. She works by day at Food Blogger Pro and formerly maintained her food blog "My California Roots" (now being merged into Foodal).

2 thoughts on “The Best Tofu You’ve Ever Had with a Charred Green Bean Salad”

  1. Fried tofu is the best! I love the texture it creates – soooo tasty! This dish sounds incredible, and just my kind of recipe. I love the sound of the bean salad too – it’s got so many of my favourite ingredients – I can’t get enough pine nuts or quinoa!! Can’t wait to try this!

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