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Pan-Fried Tofu

Recipe reprinted with permission from Feeding the Whole Family (third edition) by Cynthia Lair (Sasquatch Books, 2008)
Tofu can be bland.  But if you marinate it and fry it in coconut oil it is flavorful with great texture.

3 cloves garlic, sliced
4-5 slices (1/8-inch thick) of fresh gingerroot
1 cup water
1 tablespoon brown rice vinegar
1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
1/3 cup tamari or shoyu

1 pound firm
2 tablespoons unrefined coconut oil

In the morning, combine all ingredients for marinade.  Cut tofu into 1/2" slabs, and then cut slabs into triangles.  Put marinade and tofu in a glass storage container with a tight-fitting lid for ˝ hour to 8 hours.  The longer it sits, the stronger the flavor in the tofu.

Heat ˝ of the coconut oil in a skillet to medium high.  Remove tofu from marinade and pat dry with a paper towel.  This will protect you from sputtering oil.  Place ˝ of the tofu pieces in oil and brown on both sides.  Repeat with remaining oil and tofu.  Set aside. 

Preparation time: Overnight for marinade; 10 minutes to fry tofu
Makes 4 servings



Brittany L
I've just recently become a vegetarian, and this helped me a lot. Thank you! :)
September 5, 2008, 3:00 am

Yasmine K
I couldn't see the whole video! It stops in the middle. I was really excited to see how you fry the tofu. Please let me know how I can view it. Thank you.
December 19, 2008, 6:05 pm

Yasmine K
I finally saw the recipe. We're having it for dinner tonight over greens. I have a question though: why did you choose coconut oil? I never used it before. It would be great if you could have a video about using different kinds of fat in the kitchen and what's best. Thanks again.
December 20, 2008, 3:14 pm

Tara H
My children and I love watching your videos. They were excited about making fried tofu and loved it. I just bought your book and can't wait to read it. Thanks for making these great videos
February 26, 2009, 2:09 pm

Kaz Mira
I love cooking tofu this way, it's SO easy and comes out so flavorful. I think it's important to add that, though they do taste wonderful, you don't need to have specifically Asian ingredients like tamari, rice vinegar or even toasted sesame oil to put together an Asian-inspired tofu dish or stir-fry. I've learned that there are all kinds of things you can substitute, as long as you have the basic elements of fat (canola or olive are fine), salt (I use sea salt or Bragg's Amino Acids, tastes just like soy sauce but better for you), acid (apple cider vinegar, lemon or lime juice work great), plus spice (ginger and/or whatever kind of pepper you have on hand) and onion + garlic for flavor.
August 6, 2009, 1:49 pm

joanne parkhurst
I am wondering if questions are acceptable comments. Could you use the marinade from this recipe to cook rice in? Love the entertaining videos! Thanks
December 17, 2009, 11:05 am

Cynthia Lair
Hi Joanne, Yes. You would need to grate the ginger and press the garlic so there are not whole pieces in the rice. Measure the total amount of liquid for the marinade and use water for the remaining liquid (ie to cook 1 cup of brown rice, use 2 cups of liquid. Let me know how it comes out!
December 17, 2009, 2:05 pm

Joanne Parkhurst
Thank you for all these wonderful recipes. Yes my rice was delicious. I can hardly wait to try your wasabi salmon recipe next.
February 3, 2010, 3:23 pm

Melissa Taylor
Yum! This was delicious. My 5-year old said: Tofu is my favorite! Except for ribs.
February 10, 2010, 11:51 am

is apple cider vinegar okay? i can't find any brown rice vinegar...
June 23, 2010, 7:38 pm

Cynthia Lair
tyler, Brown rice vinegar is milder than apple cider but fine to use. Just use less (like a teaspoon).
June 23, 2010, 8:03 pm

tyler cook
Whoa! You are quick, and that is soo helpful. I have emergency cooking to do! Thank you Thank you! Also, Thankyou for not capitalizing my name, that was cool!
June 23, 2010, 8:37 pm

Sarah Cline
I LOVE this tofu marinade! I was wondering how long I could store it in the fridge so I could reuse the marinade to make another batch. I had a jar of it from a previous tofu dinner for a week and then I threw it out... but it smelled and looked fine. What do you think?
September 15, 2010, 9:52 am

Cynthia Lair
The nose knows. When real food goes bad - it tells your nose.
September 19, 2010, 10:00 am

Lori Cooper
Finally! I have never been able to do this properly. Thanks for the step by step how to video. I am going to use it in the Tom Ka Gai soup.
January 22, 2011, 6:39 pm

Hope Smith
Hi! I am a newly converted vegetarian and I find that sometimes when I cook tofu this way it comes out REALLY mushy! Other times it doesn't! Although I like tofu, I don't enjoy it as much when it is really mushy. How do I get the mush out!? :)
February 15, 2011, 8:02 pm

Cynthia Lair
HI Hope. Pay attention to the type of tofu you buy. Soft or silken tofu is very watery and great for making creamy dressings but not great for a stir fry. Buy firm or extra firm tofu and there should not be a problem. If you want it even firmer, place the block of tofu in a large bowl. Cover it with a plate and then put a jar of water or a stone on the plate. This will press the water out of the tofu making it more dense.
February 16, 2011, 8:44 am

Stephanie Yost
Yum! Coconut oil gives it lovely flavor, and works great to season my cast iron, as well. My two year old gobbled it down and loves calling it Fried 'Fu. Thanks for the humorous video!
June 16, 2011, 1:14 pm

Stew Stew
YouÂ’re on top of the game. Thanks for sarhing.
June 23, 2011, 2:00 pm

Delight Roberts
I have never liked tofu because of the bland taste, but I made this for my husband and picky 16 month old and it was sooo good! I served on udon noodles with sesame oil, tamari, sesame seeds, sauteed carrots and mushrooms, and topped with green onion. We all gobbled it down--including the baby. Just got your cookbook, Cynthia, and eager to try other recipes. Love this site, too! Thanks so much!
July 13, 2011, 11:09 am

susan gins
great as always. Thai One On is a restaurant on Lake City Way. They have good food too. (not as cook as yours!)
February 23, 2012, 10:59 pm

Chelsea Johnson
Hi Cynthia, This recipe is awesome! Do you have suggestions of how to use the left over marinade? Thanks so much!
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