We all know that after a long hard day at work, the very last thing you want to do is come home and slave away behind the stove for hours on end.
The only issue, though, is that quick and easy food tends to either not be all that nutritious or it just doesn’t taste great. Surely there must be a compromise?
A meal that you can whip up nice and quickly that is both healthy and delicious. Well..there sure is.
Enter Weeknight Tofu Stir Fry.
This meal will be on your plate in just 30 minutes, it’s cram-packed full of nutrients, and it tastes phenomenal.
And it’s something that pretty much everyone can enjoy considering it is gluten-free and vegan. It’s a very popular dish at my house and you can ensure you’ll have licked-clean plates and busting bellies all round.
Why This Recipe Is So Amazing
- Quick & Easy – We understand that life is busy, now so more than ever, and you may not have the time to spend hours slaving away. Plus, after a long slog through a workday, you just want to sit back and relax. Well, no worries, with this meal you’ll be sat down and tucking into your meal in just 30 minutes.
- Appropriate For All – There’s nothing worse than not being able to enjoy a tasty meal because of your dietary restrictions or requirements. That is why we have provided a recipe that is vegan and gluten-free. You’ll just need to ensure you purchase a gluten-free soy sauce at the store.
- Nutritious – Most quick meals are some variation of fast food that will not give you the necessary nutrients and minerals that your body needs. This meal is a great source of protein and veggies. So you can be sure you’re fuelling your body with exactly what it needs to get you through to the anticipated weekend.
All The Ingredients You’ll Need
So, what will you need to create this delicious meal? Let’s take a look.
- Tofu – You’ll need tofu. We would advise opting for the extra-firm variation because it just becomes so much crispier when you pan fry it and it definitely adds to the deliciousness. But if you prefer your tofu soft rather than crispy, medium tofu will work too.
- Onion & Garlic – These two ingredients are vital to creating a flavorsome dish. It is rare to find a recipe that doesn’t include them. In terms of this dish, you’ll want to opt for fresh garlic over powdered.
- Veggies – We would recommend using red and yellow peppers along with some broccoli, but hey, there are no hard-set rules here. You can use whichever veggies are your favorites.
- Stir Fry Sauce – In this recipe we’re going to make our own sauce from scratch using soy sauce, honey, and sesame oil (see also “The Absolute Best Ramen Noodle Stir Fry To Try“). It is super delicious and much healthier than premade packet sauces that you’ll find in stores. But you can always opt for a packet sauce if you’d prefer.
- Rice – This is optional, but we find that it helps to bulk the dish up a little and keep you fuller for longer. You could always choose rice noodles instead too.
How To Make Your Meal
Okay, so let’s walk you through exactly how to make this super scrumptious stir-fry. Just follow the steps below.
- Drain The Tofu – So the first thing you’ll want to do is drain off your tofu of choice. Once you’ve done that you can cut it up into small-sized cubes and toss it in some cornstarch. This will help the tofu get a really nice crisp texture once cooked
- Cook The Tofu – Then you’ll want to heat up some oil in a large frying pan or a wok. Once the oil is nice and hot you can add your cubed tofu. You should cook each side for around 3 minutes until it goes a gorgeous golden brown color.
- Add Your Veggies – Once the tofu is cooked, you’ll want to remove it from the pan and add a splash of extra oil. Then you can add your veggies and sautee them until they become nice and tender.
- Add The Tofu – Once you’ve got yourself a pan of tender veggies, you can add your tofu to the mix.
- Sauce It Up – You’ll then want to pour your stir-fry sauce into the tofu and veggies and keep mixing until it is all well and coated with that sweet and sticky sauce.
- Serve With Rice Or Noodles – Then you can plate up your rice or noodles and scoop your stir-fry over the top.
- Tuck In – And as easy as that you’re all done and it’s time to tuck in.
Crispy Tofu Tips And Tricks
If, like us, you prefer your tofu nice and crispy, you’ll want to ensure you follow these tips and tricks.
- Extra-Firm Tofu – As we mentioned earlier, if you are looking for crispy tofu, you need to use the extra-firm kind. Medium or soft tofu just doesn’t tend to crisp up the same way as the firmer options. This is because softer tofu has a higher water content which inhibits the crisping process.
- Use A Tofu Press – Because water is the enemy of crispy tofu, you may want to use a tofu press to try and rid your tofu of as much of its water content as possible. If you don’t have one, don’t worry, a kitchen towel covering your tofu and pressing down with a heavy book will do the trick just as well.
- Cornstarch Coating – The step of coating your tofu in the cornstarch is really important if you want to achieve that crispiness. It really helps to add a great texture and taste to the tofu.
How To Prevent Tofu Sticking To The Pan
It’s all well and good having a quick and easy meal, but it kind of defeats the purpose if you then have to spend hours scrubbing away at the pan when it comes to cleaning up.
Tofu can have a habit of sticking to the pan, so you’ll want to try and avoid this where possible. Here are some tips to avoid this.
- Non-Stick Pans – Non-stick pans are the savior of laborious tough cleaning. They pretty much do what it says on the tin. They help prevent your food from sticking to the pan and since tofu has a tendency to do so, we definitely advise cooking with a non-stick pan.
- Preheated Pans – If you don’t have a non-stick pan, don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. What you’ll want to do is preheat your pan for a couple of minutes before adding your oil. When you do add your oil, be sure to use enough that you’ve completely covered and coated the bottom of the pan.
- Pan Patience – The last piece of advice we can give you here is to be patient. As the cubes cook they will naturally release from the pan themselves. Wait for them to turn golden brown in color and they should become a lot easier to move.
How Long Does Tofu Take To Cook?
Okay, so this is just a reminder again that we’re talking specifically about extra-firm tofu here. Softer tofu has the potential to crumble and fall apart if you are following these cooking instructions.
Tofu is best cooked on medium to high heat. And it doesn’t take long to cook at all. You’re looking at around just 2-4 minutes for each side.
You want to be patient while it is cooking. Don’t try and move your tofu around or lift it during this time. Otherwise, you will interrupt the crisping process.
Leave the tofu for a couple of minutes and then you can turn it over once it forms a golden brown crust.
Your Choice Of Veggies
You’ll be hard-pressed to find any vegetables that won’t go well with this meal. So the world is truly your oyster.
Whatever veggies you love to eat, or whatever you’ve got left in your refrigerator, whack them in. They are sure to taste great.
If you’re lacking some inspiration for your vegetable selection, you can take a look at our suggested list below:
- Bell Peppers
- Bok Choy
- Bean Sprouts
- Baby Corn
- Chinese Broccoli
- Green Onion (Scallions)
- Red Onion
- Snow/Snap Peas
- Shiitake Mushrooms
What To Serve With Your Stir Fry
Again, the choice is really yours. There are plenty of options that will all taste amazing with this delicious stir-fry.
It works amazingly well all by itself, but if you want to bulk it up a bit then you can opt for rice, noodles, or salad. Here are some of our favorite options to serve with tofu stir fry.
- Asian Cucumber Salad
- Korean Tofu Soup
- Mie Goreng Noodles
- Spicy Noodles
- Udon Noodles
- Vegan Fried Rice
What To Do With Leftovers
If you can’t quite finish all your food, don’t fret, because you can definitely save it for later. All you’ll need to do is pop your leftovers into an airtight container and then pop it in the fridge. It will be good for at least 48 hours.
You can then reheat this in either the microwave or you can pop it back into a pan and reheat it this way.
We recommend reheating it in a pan with a touch of extra oil as this will ensure that the tofu becomes nice and crispy again.
The 8 Biggest Mistakes People Make When Cooking Tofu
- Choosing The Wrong Kind Of Tofu – So, as we’ve mentioned quite a lot during this article, for stir-frying you’ll want to ensure that you are using extra-firm tofu. Before making any meal involving tofu it is really important to ensure that you are purchasing the correct variant of tofu. Most recipes will specify the correct kind in their ingredients list.
- Not Removing The Liquid – Again, this is something we have mentioned many times during this article. Tofu can have quite a high water content. All tofu has some water content. Before cooking you’ll want to make sure that you’ve removed as much of this as possible. You should always rinse and press your tofu.
- Your Chunks Are Too Large – Ideally, you want to always be cutting your tofu into small cube shaped pieces. If you try to cook large chunks of tofu you’re going to impede both the texture and the flavor.
- You Used Oil In Your Marinade – This particular recipe does not call for marinating, but if you do need to marinade your tofu, you should not marinade it in an oil-based liquid. The oil and water from the tofu will form a natural barrier and this will inhibit the marinade from penetrating the tofu. Instead use oil-free options such as soy-sauce, stock, or lemon juice.
- You Breaded It – You may consider breading tofu in a similar way that you would fish or chicken, but this will not work. This is due to the tofu’s porous surface. To get that similar crispy coating just use cornstarch or arrowroot powder.
- You Didn’t Cook It For Long Enough – If you don’t give your tofu enough time to cook, or start trying to flip it over prematurely, you’re going to end up with soft and somewhat soggy tofu. You need to ensure the pan is hot and wait until the tofu starts to turn a nice golden brown color.
- You Used The Wrong Pan – As we mentioned earlier, tofu really likes to stick to pans. This can make removing it pretty difficult and you may end up with a broken crumbled mess. Where possible you want to try and opt for a nonstick pan or a cast iron which is non-stick naturally. You can never really go too heavy with the oil either when cooking tofu to try and help prevent it from sticking to the pan like superglue.
- You Didn’t Store It Correctly – Once you’ve opened tofu you need to cover it with water and keep it in the refrigerator to ensure that it stays fresh. If you are freezing your tofu it should always be left in its original packaging.
The 7 Biggest Mistakes People Make When Cooking Stir-Fry
- You Used The Wrong Pan – The best option for a stir-fry is a wok if you have it. If not, the next best option is a large frying pan or skillet. You want as much surface area as possible so choose width over depth when cooking stir-fry. Again, you’ll want a non-stick pan and ideally you’ll steer clear of cheap aluminium pans as they tend to get pretty smokey and have a tendency to burn your food.
- You Used The Wrong Oil – When it comes to choosing your oil you should try to avoid olive oil, nut oils, or butter as they often burn quickly, smoke, and can ruin the food you are cooking. Instead, you’ll be much better off opting for canola oil, vegetable oil, or grapeseed oil.
- Overcrowding The Pan – Adding too many ingredients at once is a big no-no. This is because your food will overlap and instead of sauteing them you’ll actually steam them. You’ll have soggy, rubbery, and generally unappealing veggies if this happens.
- Cutting Ingredients Too Thick – Everyone loves a stir-fry because they are quick and easy. The smaller and thinner your ingredients are, the quicker they will cook.
- Not Using High Enough Heat – Don’t be scared of high heat when it comes to stir-fry. Just make sure that you keep those ingredients constantly moving by either shaking the pan or stirring them with a wooden spoon.
- Seasoning Too Early – Usually, seasoning straight away is the standard protocol. Not with stir-fry. This will draw moisture out from your veggies and can actually make them pretty soggy. Wait until the veggies are pretty much cooked before adding your seasoning.
- Not Being Bold Enough With Sauce – You don’t want a bland stir-fry which is why you want to opt for a tasty sauce. This works best when you create a sauce from scratch. So ditch the pre-made sauces and make your very own one. It really doesn’t take all that long to do and it is much tastier.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is Sauteed Tofu Healthy?
Yes, sauteed tofu is pretty healthy. It is a low calorie option that is a great source of protein for those who don’t eat meat.
It is also packed with many important vitamins and minerals such as manganese and calcium. It is, however, quite high in fats too.
What Is The Best Kind Of Tofu For Stir Fry?
Extra-firm will always be the best option for stir-fry due to its lower water content. This option will go the crispiest when you fry it and won’t crumble and fall apart when it is cooked.
Do You Have To Press Tofu For Stir Fry?
Most forms of preparing tofu won’t require pressing it. However, in the case of shallow frying and sauteing, it is always good practice to press your tofu.
It will hold its shape much better this way, it won’t dilute your seasonings, and it will also keep it nice and crispy.
Is Tofu Good For Losing Belly Fat?
Yes! Tofu contains quite a lot of soy isoflavones which have been proven to reduce belly fat. So you can have a delicious meal and lose some belly fat while doing so. What could be better?
You should now be a tofu stir-fry cooking expert! You have all the knowledge that you’ll ever need to cook the crispiest, tastiest, most flavorsome stir-fry to ever exist. And you can do so in just thirty quick minutes.
And not only will this be the nicest tasting quick and easy meal that you’ve ever tried, but it will also be super healthy too.
This meal is packed with protein, minerals, nutrients, and more! So it really is a winner all-round.
As long as you follow the cooking instructions and ensure that you don’t make any of those common tofu or stir-fry mistakes, you are sure to create a dish that you’ll get asked to make time and time again.