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One of my favorite ways to prepare tofu is to deep fry it. If you do it correctly, the tofu absorbs very little oil and comes out golden and crispy – perfect for stir-frying, snacking, soups, and more. The instructions below show how I prepare plain fried tofu. If you are using marinated tofu, you should fry the pieces in a teeny bit of oil (or use a cooking spray) in a frying pan. Don't use the method below or all of your tasty marinade will float away into the oil.

(Click pictures to enlarge)
[container of soft tofu]
There are different kinds of tofu (extra-firm, firm, soft, silken, etc.). The best for deep frying is the soft tofu that is sold in big tubs like this one. It doesn't matter which brand. Don't worry about not being able to finish off a big tub (which generally holds 10 blocks of tofu), as you can always freeze your fried tofu for use later.

Don't just pick up any old tub of tofu from your Asian market. Open up the lid, reach in and squeeze one gently. Yes, I know this seems kind of gross, but everyone does it (this also is why you'll be rinsing your tofu well before using it). You want your tofu to feel soft to the touch – old tofu tends to harden as it sits around. Sometimes you can tell the tofu is fresh just by looking at it. Squeeze if you want to be sure. ;-)

If you don't plan to use the tofu right away, pour out the water once you get home and replace it with fresh water before refrigerating. Change the water every couple of days to keep the tofu fresh.

[thick layer of newspaper]
At least 20 minutes before you're ready to start frying, lay out a thick layer of newspaper. About 1/2" should be sufficient.
[paper towels laid on top of paper towels]
Place a layer of paper towels on top of the newspaper.
Rinse your tofu blocks well, then slice them to the desired size. The bigger the block, the more soft white middle there will be. If you like your tofu more crispy and chewy, cut your pieces smaller. Here, I've cut the tofu block in half, then sliced each half into 6 slices. (4 slices for each half is also a nice size.)
Line up the tofu pieces on the prepared newspaper. The newspaper will absorb moisture from the tofu (and the paper towel will keep the newsprint from bleeding onto the tofu) – this step prevents the small, painful explosions of oil that occur when you throw water into a vat of hot oil.
Lay a paper towel on top of the tofu and press gently to absorb moisture.
Heat canola oil in a large frying pan over medium to medium-high heat. The oil should be about half the height (the shortest side) of your tofu pieces, which will be enough to cover the full height of the tofu pieces once they're added to the pan. The heat you should use depends on your stove. You want the oil hot enough that a smidge of tofu thrown in immediately sizzles, but not so hot that the tofu brown too quickly (or burn).
Once the oil is hot enough, slide the tofu pieces into the pan. Do not just drop the tofu in as the hot oil might splash up and burn you. Add enough tofu to cover the surface area of the pan. Once the tofu are in, use chopsticks, tongs, or a spatula to gently separate them (they like to graft onto each other at this stage). Don't squeeze the tofu too hard in the pan as they may release water and cause hot-oil-popping.
Fry until the tofu is nicely golden on one side, then flip them over. Once the tofu pieces are golden on all sides, fish them out and place them in a colander or bowl lined with paper towels to absorb the excess oil.
Voila - freshly fried tofu, ready for the eating. Once the tofu has cooled to room temperature, you can put them in freezer bags and freeze for later use.


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