I’m pretty sure meals like this are my absolute favorite. My favs!
When you combine greens and charred veggies, a complete-protein grain like nutty quinoa, and some fried tofu, you’ve definitely got a winner.
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. Or have no idea how to store it.
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.
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.
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
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.
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
For the Tofu:
- Combine the soy sauce, rice vinegar, sesame oil, chili paste, ginger, and garlic powder in a small bowl. Mix well with a whisk.
- 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.
- 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.
- Toss the cornstarch, flour, and salt in a medium bowl. Add the cubes of tofu and toss until evenly coated.
- 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:
- 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.
- 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!
- Prep Time: 1 hour
- Cook Time: 45 minutes
- 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!
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’!
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.
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:
- Spicy Curry Noodles with Tofu and Mushrooms
- Sriracha Tofu Stir-Fry with Green Beans and Carrots
- Charred Romaine with Paprika Marinated Grilled Tofu
- Gluten-Free Pad Thai with Seared Tofu
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: March 1, 2022 at 18:42 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.
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 merged into Foodal).