Here's a tender yet jerky braised tofu recipe with a mildly sweet, tangy, and absolutely delicious Asian-inspired sauce.
It's an easy 30-minute dinner idea with plenty of plant protein, veggies, and a wonderful combination of flavors.
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Our braised tofu is a Chinese-inspired recipe with a beautiful dark sauce to serve as the main dish on boiled or steamed rice.
Braising is a cooking method that combines dry heat and wet heat. First, we brown the food without sauce to create flavor, then simmer it with the flavoring liquid.
In this case, you'll slice firm tofu into strips and sauté with oil, salt, and pepper on a non-stick skillet for a few minutes. This step allows the tofu to lose some of its water, brown, crisp up, and gain flavor.
Next, pan-fry your favorite veggies; you can use bell peppers, mushrooms, broccoli, and more.
Finally, you'll add a tasty dark sauce that will beautifully coat the tofu and the veggies and load them with flavor.
You can serve the braised tofu next to a bowl of rice and greens such as chard, bok choi, broccoli, and more.
Use firm or extra firm tofu to make braised tofu; soft tofu will disintegrate on the pan, and that's no fun.
There's no need to press the tofu; the excess moisture will be released as you cook the tofu on the pan.
You'll need salt, pepper, and oil (olive oil, canola oil, or sunflower oil are best) to sauté the tofu.
Mushrooms: white mushrooms or cremini mushrooms are perfectly fine for this recipe. To add more mushroom flavor, throw in some shiitake mushrooms or portobello mushrooms.
Bell peppers: pick a yellow bell pepper if you can. The color looks lovely in this dish. Red and green peppers work well too.
Scallions: or green onions are wonderful for adding a fresh tangy flavor to this dish. Use the white and light-green part to stir fry with the other veggies and the green part as a garnish.
However, you can use any veggies that sauté well on a pan, such as thinly sliced carrots, sliced broccoli, green peas, sliced zucchini, bok choi, and more.
Garlic, Ginger, Red Pepper Flakes
Try to use all; they infuse the dish with an irresistible aromatic flavor that is a must in Asian cooking.
Add more or less red pepper flakes based on your spice tolerance. You can substitute chili powder, gochugaru (Korean chili flakes), or Chinese whole-dried red chilies for red pepper flakes.
To braise the tofu, you'll need a sauce with the following:
- Soy sauce: we use reduced-sodium soy sauce. To make the sauce darker, you could add a tablespoon of dark soy sauce, although that's only optional.
- Vinegar: rice vinegar is more traditional; white wine or apple cider vinegar works perfectly well. If you have it in your pantry, you can add a tablespoon of Shaoxing wine too.
- Sugar: white or brown sugar are both okay.
- Sesame oil: sesame oil adds a beautifully nutty flavor you'll love. If you don't have sesame oil replace it with olive oil or canola oil.
- Salt and black pepper
To thicken the sauce, so it sticks to the tofu and veggies, you'll mix cornstarch and water to make a cornstarch slurry.
Serve it with
Serve braised tofu with boiled rice (white, brown, basmati, jasmine). You can also add extra veggies on the side and sesame seeds on top.
For example, we recommend sautéed bok choi, sautéed chard, steamed broccoli, and steamed cauliflower.
Prep the ingredients
Cut the mushrooms in half or quarters and slice the bell pepper into long strips.
Finely slices the scallions and separate the green tops from the white and light green bottom.
Take the tofu out of its package, drain it, and pat it dry with a paper towel.
Slice it into ¼-inch strips (0.6 cm).
In a small bowl, whisk cornstarch and water to make the cornstarch slurry.
In a medium bowl, whisk soy sauce, vinegar, sugar, sesame oil, salt, and black pepper. That's your braised tofu sauce.
Warm up the vegetable oil on a large non-stick pan. Add the tofu slices, season them with salt and black pepper, and cook on medium-low heat for about 8 minutes, flipping it once.
When the tofu is golden brown, transfer it onto a plate and set aside.
Note: the salt will draw out excess liquid making the tofu texture a little chewier without having to use a tofu press.
On the same pan, add some more oil and pan-fry bell peppers and mushrooms on medium-high heat for 3 minutes.
Add the white and light-green parts of the scallions and pan-fry for 1 minute.
Now add grated ginger, grated garlic, and red pepper flakes, and fry for 1 minute.
Add tofu slices to the pan, pour in the sauce, make sure it covers the tofu, and simmer on medium heat for 2 - 3 minutes.
Finally, add the cornstarch slurry (whisk it again before adding) and cook on low heat until the sauce thickens up a little, but not too much; it should not be overly sticky (about 1 minute).
Transfer the tofu to a plate, pour the sauce over it, and sprinkle with the green part of the scallions and sesame seeds. Serve next to rice and steamed veggies.
Serve braised tofu with boiled or steamed white rice, brown rice, or Asian noodles such as rice noodles, soba noodles, or soy noodles.
You can add steamed broccoli, cauliflower, bok choice, or chard.
Add a tasty side dish like:
- Roasted broccoli with lemon and garlic, a great side dish with rice and tofu.
- Crispy and baked asparagus: perfectly tender and vibrantly green side dish.
- Mango salad with avocado, mint, and lime juice.
- Sautéed sweet and sour eggplant with an Asian-inspired sweet and sour sauce.
- Roasted bell pepper with Italian herbs and a quick homemade marinade.
- Rainbow roasted vegetables: a family-favorite and great with tofu!
Refrigerator: store braised tofu in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 2 days. Reheat in the microwave.
Freezer: we don't recommend freezing this recipe.
More Asian-inspired recipes
If you love easy, tasty, and plant-based Asian-inspired recipes, take a peek at these easy meals:
- Orange tofu with sticky and sweet sauce
- Asian cucumber salad with pickled red onions
- 20-minute tofu soup with seasonal vegetables
- Easy vegan curry with coconut milk and tofu cubes
- Vegetarian Kung Pao with chewy slices of tofu and mushrooms
More tofu recipes
New to tofu? Try these quick and easy tofu recipes that are guaranteed family favorites:
- Tofu mushroom cutlets: the perfect substitute for mushroom chicken!
- Italian tofu cacciatore with authentic Italian flavor.
- Marinated tofu cubes with rice.
- Tofu salad: the best of crispy tofu mixed with greens and fresh veggies.
For many more tofu ideas, check out our tofu category page.
- 14 - 16 ounces tofu firm or extra-firm
- 2½ tablespoons vegetable oil
- ½ teaspoon salt + 2 twists black pepper
- 1 yellow bell pepper
- 6 mushrooms white or cremini
- 4 scallions
- 3 cloves garlic
- 1 inch ginger
- ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
- ⅓ cup soy sauce reduced sodium
- 2 tablespoons vinegar rice, white wine, or apple cider
- 1½ tablespoon sugar
- 1 tablespoon sesame oil
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch + ½ cup water for slurry
PREP THE INGREDIENTS
- Cut mushrooms in quarters. Slice the bell pepper into strips.Finely slice scallions and separate the green tops from the white and light green bottom.
- Pat tofu dry with a paper towel then slice it into ¼-inch strips (0.6 cm).
- In a small bowl, whisk cornstarch and water to make the cornstarch slurry.In a medium bowl, whisk soy sauce, vinegar, sugar,sesame oil, salt, and black pepper.
- Warm up 1½ tablespoons of vegetable oil on a large non-stick pan. Add tofu slices, season with salt and black pepper, and cook on medium-low heat for about 8 minutes, flipping it once.When tofu is golden brown on both sides, transfer it onto a plate and set aside.
- On the same pan, add 1 tablespoon of oil and pan-fry bell peppers and mushrooms on medium-high heat for 3 minutes.Add the white and light-green parts of the scallions and pan-fry for 1 minute.Now lower the heat, add grated ginger, grated garlic, and red pepper flakes, and fry for 1 minute.
- Add tofu slices to the pan, pour in the sauce, make sure it covers the tofu, and simmer on medium heat for 2 - 3 minutes.Finally, add the cornstarch slurry (whisk it again before adding) and cook on low heat until the sauce thickens up a little, but not too much; it should not be overly sticky (about 1 minute).
- Transfer the tofu to a plate, pour the sauce over it, and sprinkle with the green part of the scallions and sesame seeds.
- Serve next to rice and steamed veggies.
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