My thoughts about tofu up until this meal have been just… “meh.” Not anymore! I’ve totally converted from “meh” to “ican’tstopeatingthis.”
This method of frying the tofu is super easy and really, REALLY yummy. Paired with a simple and scrumptious 10-minute fried rice (yep… 10 minutes!!!), this meal is hearty, delicious, easy to make, and really healthy.
The biggest key to cooking tofu properly: dry it out. Simply slice the tofu into the sizes you want to cook, and lay it out flat on a paper towel. Sprinkle with salt and cover with another paper towel, and let sit for about 10 minutes- the salt and towels will draw out much of the moisture, making it easier to brown. (You can do your prep for the fried rice while you’re waiting for the tofu!)
At this point you can bake it or saute it as is. I wanted extra crispy tofu, however, so I coated the pieces with a thin layer of cornstarch before frying (a lot of fried asian foods are coated in cornstarch rather than flour or bread crumbs). Just put a few tablespoons of cornstarch in a bowl with salt and pepper, add the tofu, and shake around to coat.
Another trick: it’s best to use a cast iron skillet for frying the tofu. With a natural non-stick surface created by layers of oil, it makes it ideal for frying delicate foods like tofu (using a non-stick skillet for frying isn’t ideal, since the oil gets so hot it can damage the Teflon surface). Don’t have one? You should seriously consider purchasing one- it’s my favorite thing in my kitchen! The tofu will fry easily in a thin layer of olive oil, browning on each side for 2-4 minutes. It’s a cinch.
Once the tofu is done cooking, the DELICIOUS fried rice comes together super quickly in the same skillet. (This part of the recipe is adapted from Pinch of Yum– one of my favorite blogs. Go check it out!) The thing that sets this fried rice apart from others? The chopped fresh basil and scallions. So fresh, and so tasty.
Hey, if you want to forgo this whole “frying tofu” thing all together and just make the fried rice for dinner, I hear you. That’s what I did the first time I made it! (just add a couple more eggs and call it a day). But seriously, the tofu is super tasty. And it makes the meal so much more hearty and satisfying. Even with frying the tofu, this whole meal only takes about 30 minutes to make. Not too shabby!
One final thing: top this off with Sriracha sauce. You won’t regret it. YUM!!!
Fried Rice with Crispy Tofu
- For the tofu:
- 1 package extra firm tofu
- 3 tablespoons cornstarch
- Salt and pepper to taste
- plenty of olive oil to fry
- For the fried rice:
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 1- inch piece fresh ginger minced*
- 2 eggs**
- 3 cups cooked brown rice 1 cup dry
- 1 carrot grated
- 1 cup frozen peas
- 1 cup frozen corn
- 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
- 1 tablespoons rice vinegar
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- salt and pepper to taste
- 2 scallions chopped
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
- Sriracha hot sauce optional
- To make the tofu, cut a block of tofu into pieces approximately 1/4 inch thick, then cut those into four pieces each (so you have pieces approximately 1" x .5")
- Arrange the tofu pieces on top of a paper towel (or other clean towel), sprinkle with salt, and put another towel on top. Place something heavy (like a cast iron skillet) on top of it. Allow to sit for approximately 10 minutes so the the moisture is drawn out of the tofu.
- Place tofu in a medium sized bowl with cornstarch, and salt and pepper to taste. Stir/shake gently to coat the pieces of tofu in cornstarch.
- Coat the bottom of a heavy skillet (cast iron recommended) with olive oil. Heat over medium-high heat, and add tofu. Allow to sit for 2-4 minutes, or until golden brown. Flip and allow to brown on other side, and remove to a clean paper towel to drain. You will probably need to do two-three batches.
- To make the fried rice, in the same skillet as the tofu (or a wok), heat olive oil.
- Add garlic and ginger; saute for one minute or until fragrant.
- Crack eggs into skillet and stir to scramble, until just set.
- Add rice to skillet and stir to incorporate.
- Allow to sit undisturbed for a few minutes to brown. Using a thin metal spatula, flip rice over and allow to brown on other side.
- Add carrot, peas, corn, sesame oil, rice vinegar, soy sauce, salt, pepper, and fried tofu.
- Stir to incorporate, and allow to continue heating for a few minutes until all ingredients are warm.
- Top with scallions and basil, as well as sriracha if desired.
**The fried rice is delicious on it's own as a meal, without the tofu. I'd recommend using 4 eggs instead of 2 to make it more substantive. For a vegan option, omit the eggs.