How to Use Tofu in Fried Dishes

Frying Tofu in a Pan

Formed from coagulated soy milk that is pressed into blocks, tofu is a meatless protein that can add beneficial nutrients to an assortment of dishes. Cooking with tofu is like starting with a blank slate since this soy-based product has a neutral taste and picks up the flavors of whatever it is cooked in.

Some people feel helpless in their ability to make tofu delicious—it's easy to labor over the stove and turn up results that are soggy and uninspiring. Here's how to pan-fry tofu for a crispy, tasty and healthy meal:

  • Shop for tofu that is made fresh regularly. If you don't live in a large metropolitan area or have vegan-friendly shops nearby, search for product that is stored in water and in the refrigerated section. Select tofu that is extra-firm with the furthest off expiration date.
  • After draining the package of water. Cut your tofu in slabs a bit less than an inch thick.
  • Bring salted water to a boil. Then, pour the water over your cut tofu and soak for approximately 15 minutes. This extra step results in an even crispier-crusted end product.
  • Remove the tofu from the hot water and dry. Place each slab on a sheet of paper towel and place another sheet on top. Pat the tofu until most of the moisture is gone. Just like with any meat, this process helps the tofu achieve a good browning during cooking.
  • Prepare a large cast iron skillet at very high heat. Add two tablespoons of peanut or sesame seed oil (or your favorite alternative) and place the dry tofu in the skillet with plenty of breathing room. You can also toss the dried tofu in a mix of flour, salt, pepper, and other seasonings for a more traditional crispy crust.
  • Pan-fry for 4-6 minutes; then, carefully turn to brown the other side.

Pan-fried tofu can be dipped in sauces, added to stir-fry at the end of cooking or served as the primary protein by replacing the beef, chicken, pork, lamb or seafood in your favorite dish.


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