Sweet & spicy pillows of pan-fried tofu heaven, without a deep fryer. I find myself making this tofu recipe over & over again… and now you can, too!
This recipe is inspired by General Tso's Chicken.
Why You Should Make this Recipe
We all love takeout food, and it’s so satisfying when you can recreate a favorite dish at home! This recipe is a suburb meat-free takeout option that still has amazing flavor.
Tofu often sticks to the pan because it is too wet. This fried tofu recipe works because of the methods we are using to remove the excess water from the tofu. First, we drain out the water, and then take extra precaution by dredging the tofu in arrowroot powder.
The tofu in this dish is perfect if you like it on the crispier side, and I make it in the pan rather than deep-frying, so it’s much easier to keep an eye on. The crispy tofu is coated in a sticky delicious, sweet and spicy sauce - the hot sauce and honey is a wicked combination!
How to Cook Tofu
Tofu tastes great pan-fried, fried, simmered in soup, scrambled, baked, blended, and grilled. When pan-frying, frying, baking, and grilling, you want to drain out as much of the liquid as possible so the tofu doesn't stick to the pan.
- Pan-Frying: Cut the tofu into 1-inch cubes or 8 rectangles. Pan-fry 2-3 minutes per side.
- Frying: Cut the tofu into 1-inch cubes. Deep fry for 2-3 minutes.
- Baking: Cut the tofu into 1-inch cubes or 8 rectangles. Bake at 350F for 20-30 minutes.
- Grilling: Cut the tofu into 1-inch cubes or 8 rectangles. Grill over medium heat for 2-3 minutes per side.
Click here for all my tofu recipes.
Press Tofu to Release Liquid
Wrap the firm or extra firm tofu block in a lint-free kitchen towel or paper towels. Top with a weight. I use a 1/4-sheet pan stacked with books. Let sit for a minimum of 15 minutes.
Note: Stabilize the sheet pan so it doesn't fall over. You can do this by leaning it against the wall and surrounding it with bottles, cans, or even pots and pans.
tofu - firm or extra firm tofu work best in this recipe because they hold shape when pan frying.
arrowroot powder - you can substitute with cornstarch. If necessary, you can substitute with all-purpose flour, but you will not get as much stickiness out of the sauce.
cooking wine - you can use Shaoxing, sherry, sake, or marsala.
hot sauce - my personal preference is Valentina, but you can use any hot sauce you like.
sesame seeds - you can use either white or black toasted sesame seeds.
How to Make this Recipe
First, drain as much liquid out of the tofu as possible. You can do this by wrapping the tofu in a lint-free kitchen towel or paper towels and topping it with a weight like a book. Let it sit for at least 15 minutes.
Mix the hot sauce and honey in a medium bowl. Add the tofu and toss until coated. Sprinkle with sesame seeds. Then, Coat the tofu cubes in arrowroot powder.
Heat enough oil to coat the bottom of a non-stick pan over medium heat. Cook 2 minutes per side. Set aside.
Add the ginger, garlic, and red pepper flakes to the pan and stir until fragrant. Add the wine, water, soy sauce, rice vinegar, and sugar, and let it come to a boil.
Then, add the pan-fried tofu back in. Toss well to coat, and serve with your favorite rice!
Tofu is made from soybeans, water, and a coagulant like lemon, or calcium sulfate. The soybeans are cooked, then blended with water, and finally molded into the cubes you see in the store. They are stored in salted water and sealed. Tofu is a great source of vegan protein along with other nutrients like calcium and phosphorus. See nutrition of this recipe in the recipe card below.
Yes. Simply drain the water from the container and enjoy the tofu. However, I like to take the added precaution of boiling it for a few minutes just in case any bacteria has grown on the surface.
Tofu doesn't have a strong flavor and is quite bland making it great to absorb and showcase any flavors you add to it.
My Favorite Tofu Recipes
The following are the best tofu recipes for both beginner and experienced tofu fans. I've split them into vegan & vegetarian. As you likely already know, the vegan recipes are also vegetarian.
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Sweet & Spicy Tofu
- 1/4 cup honey
- 2 tbsp hot sauce I always use Valentina
- 1 lb. extra firm tofu pressed to drain out water, then cut into 1" cubes
- 1 tbsp sesame seeds
- 1/3 cup arrowroot
- 1/4 cup oil avocado, canola, or other flavorless oil
- 1 tsp ginger grated or minced
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 1 tsp red pepper flakes
- ½ tbsp dry cooking wine like Shaoxing, sake, sherry
- 1/4 cup water
- 3 tbsp soy sauce
- 1 tbsp rice vinegar
- 1 tbsp sugar
- Mix the hot sauce and honey in a medium bowl. Add the tofu and toss until coated. Sprinkle with sesame seeds and toss until coated.
- Sprinkle and toss with arrowroot until coated and dry.
- Heat oil in a small frying pan. Not letting the tofu pieces touch each other, cook 2 minutes per side. Set aside.
- Add the ginger, garlic, and red pepper flakes and stir for 30 seconds.
- Add the wine, water, soy sauce, rice vinegar, and sugar, and let it come to boil.
- Add the fried tofu. Toss to coat. Serve with sprouted brown rice!
This post was originally published in March of 2017, but was republished with new photos, step by step instructions, and tips September of 2020.