A stir fry is one of the most simple and delicious meals you can make for a quick weeknight dinner. For myself and many others, it is one of the first meals you learn to make as a young adult that requires few ingredients and very little knowledge about cooking.
We've upgraded our stir-fries over the years by swapping out those salt-laden sauce packets in favour of making our own and experimenting with different flavour profiles.
For people that aren't familiar with the healthy vegan protein, recipes with fried tofu are a hard sell because they seem bland and boring. Generally speaking, tofu has gotten somewhat of a bad reputation over the years because it was new and foreign. New and unfamiliar meaning not popular; leaving very few people who knew how to cook it!
The trick is in the press. By pressing your tofu, whether it be silken or up the scale to extra firm, you remove the excess moisture. The tofu is then able to soak up the garlic and ginger sauces' aromatic flavours.
Pressing also keeps the fried tofu from getting soggy; it retains a deliciously crunchy texture that pairs well with the fried vegetables and rice or noodles' texture.
The prep time for this dish is incredibly low. It takes approximately 30 minutes to thoroughly cook this tofu stir fry from prep to the tabletop.
How to make tofu stir fry
Ingredients for stir fry
- 14 oz extra firm tofu, drained, pressed, and cut into 1-in cubes
- 1 c of broccoli, chopped
- 1 medium or large carrot, julienned
- ½ sweet bell pepper, julienned
- ½ large red onion, julienned
- 2 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1-in piece of ginger root, peeled
Ingredients for the sauce
- 3/4 c vegetable or chicken stock
- 1/4 c tamari or soy sauce
- 2 tbsp brown, cane, or coconut sugar
- 2 tsp cornstarch
- Optional: 1/8 tsp cayenne flakes
- Press your extra firm tofu block for 15 min using a tofu press.*
- Cook the tofu cubes over medium-high heat with a drizzle of oil.
- Fry until all of the sides are golden brown. Remove the tofu from the pan and set aside for later.
- Turn the heat up to high. Add in the veggies and sautée in oil for 2-3 min, stirring frequently.
- Combine all of the ingredients in the sauce in a medium mixing bowl. Set aside.
- Add the fried tofu, veggies, and the sauce to your skillet. Cook for 1-2 min or until your sauce thickens, stirring frequently.
- Taste the stir fry and salt as needed.
- Serve immediately over noodles or any rice of your choice. Enjoy!
*If you don’t have a tofu press, wrap the tofu in paper towels and use something heavy like a chopping board to squeeze the excess water out.
This amount serves 4 people.
Calories: 133; Protein: 11.3 g; Sugar: 8.2 g; Sodium: 1144 mg; Fat: 4.3 g; Saturated Fat: 0.9 g; Carbohydrates: 15 g; Fibre: 2.8 g;
Tofu stir fry FAQs
Although this is a pretty simple recipe to add to your list of favourites, you may still have a couple of questions! We collaborated with our most trusted chefs to answer some of the most frequently asked questions regarding this fantastic recipe.
Can I use other kinds of tofu?
Firm, extra firm, and super firm tofu works best in recipes like this where you need to fry it. The firm and extra firm tofu hold up better and aren’t quite as delicate as silken or regular. Avoid silken and soft tofu, which will fall apart in the heat of the stir fry.
Do I need to press the firm tofu before I stir fry?
Pressing the tofu is the key to retaining the crunch and imparting flavour into the tofu. All tofu has excess liquid to keep it fresh in the package. Pressing the tofu before cooking it allows for that excess liquid to be squeezed off. If you skip this step, the tofu won’t take on the flavours you intend to cook into it, so it remains bland.
The easiest way is to use a tofu press, which takes about 15 minutes. If you don't own a press, you can press your tofu between two heavy plates or use a chopping board.
How do I keep the stir fry crunchy?
First, make sure your vegetables are washed and fully-dried before you fry them up. Cut all of your veggies and tofu to about the same size. If you leave the veggies too big, they’ll require more time in the pan, leaving your tofu slightly overcooked or veggies undercooked. Don't add your oil into your pan until it's already heated up.
Add veggies from hardest to softest, as the most delicate won't need as long to cook. I like to start with carrots and onions, which can take a lot of heat before they get overcooked. Tofu is quite soft, so make sure that you remove it from the heat after the initial fry and add in at the very end.
Keep your veggies spaced out in the pan so that they have surface contact with the pan. Overcrowding leads to steamed veggies instead of pan-fried. Now would be an excellent opportunity to dust off your wok and put it to work! However, a cast-iron skillet will create that beautiful sear as well.
Can I remove the salt in this recipe?
You cannot remove the salt entirely, but you can opt for reduced-sodium options when shopping! When shopping for this specific recipe, keep an eye out for reduced-sodium stock and reduced-sodium soy sauce/tamari. Using fresh veggies instead of canned will immensely reduce the amount of salt (and taste so much better!”
What oil should I use in the stir fry?
Sesame oil is a great option! It adds a complex flavour to the dish and has a high smoke point to avoid burning in your wok or pan. Other oils with high smoke points that work well are avocado oil, canola oil, peanut oil, and grapeseed oil. Avoid using olive oil or butter, which burns quickly.
What other ingredients can I put in this recipe for tofu stir fry?
You can add almost anything into your stir fry. Mushrooms, cauliflower, eggplant, parsnips, turnips, and zucchini are a few vegetables that pair well with the existing flavours of the stock and seasonings in this tofu recipe. Don’t stay stuck in a rut with the same veggies over and over again.
I have a soy allergy. Can I remove it?
Yes! If you have a soy allergy, replace the tofu with tempeh or seitan if you're vegan. If you eat meat, try this recipe with thinly sliced chicken, beef, pork, or shrimp.
Replace the soy sauce/tamari with coconut aminos, and you've got a soy-free stir fry.
Is this recipe vegan-friendly?
Yes! Tofu is vegan, and there are no animal or dairy products in our recipe if you use vegetable stock instead of chicken.
Can I store leftovers?
Absolutely! Put away any leftovers of this vegan stir fry in a sealed container into the fridge.
Avoid freezing this dish because tofu doesn't stand up well to being reheated for a meal later one. During the thawing process, the tofu tends to become mushy and loses most of its wonderful flavour.
Our final word on this tofu stir fry recipe
Recipes with tofu are too often given grief from meat-eaters! Tofu may be one of the most versatile foods that exist. Use it in dessert or base an entire meal around it, but one thing is for sure, you can easily make it taste great!
Quickly shape this ingredient into what you want it to be, and shock your friends by how wonderful it really tastes. Make it your own or stick to the original recipe.
We hope you enjoy making this healthy and flavour-packed stir-fried tofu recipe.
Why not bookmark this recipe to use the next time you crave stir fry?