Crispy Tofu with Garlic Sauce (without Deep-Frying)

Learn the easiest way to make crispy tofu that tastes great—no deep-frying and marinating needed! {vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free}

 Crispy Tofu with Garlic Sauce (without Deep-Frying) | Chinese | recipes | vegan | vegetarian | gluten free | plant based | baked | healthy | easy | Asian

Living in the US, it seems to me that cooking with tofu is all about staying on a vegetarian or vegan diet. It is totally different in China. Growing up, we ate a lot of tofu because it’s lower in cost and the dishes are delicious.

Like this crispy tofu with garlic sauce. It was one of my favorite snacks growing up, often served with bubble milk tea.

Sounds weird enough?

The classic combination is from Hong Kong bubble Tea branch, RBT. It is the earliest Hong Kong style dessert and drink store opened in Beijing back in the 90s. And it was one of my favorite places to hang out after school and on the weekend. Every time, I’d order a bubble tea with a different topping. But for the snack, the fried tofu with gravy was always the first thing I ordered.

The original crispy tofu snack is deep fried until crispy and golden. It is then served in a brown sauce that is garlicky and slightly sweet.

 Crispy Tofu with Garlic Sauce (without Deep-Frying) | Chinese | recipes | vegan | vegetarian | gluten free | plant based | baked | healthy | easy | Asian

When making this dish at home, I prefer to use a lazier method and bake the tofu instead of deep-frying. If you try it once you’d be surprised how amazing the tofu turns out.

The golden tofu chunks will puff up and turn chewy and crispy, with a texture very close to fried tofu.

And the best part?

You don’t need a single drop of oil!

I wouldn’t mind sprinkling some sea salt and snacking on these little cubes by themselves, but the garlic sauce just makes everything better.

 Crispy Tofu with Garlic Sauce (without Deep-Frying) | Chinese | recipes | vegan | vegetarian | gluten free | plant based | baked | healthy | easy | Asian

The sauce only takes 5 minutes to make and uses a couple of ingredients that you already have in your cabinet. The finished sauce is just like the original version I used to have in the Hong Kong chain store—sticky, savory, garlicky, and slightly sweet.

Once you try this recipe, you won’t need to convince your kids or husband to eat tofu anymore. They’ll finish a block in one sitting 😉

Oh, by the way, definitely check out these little paper boats on Amazon. I love to serve crispy tofu on these red food trays, just like how street vendors and stores do in China. They are perfect to serve snacks or appetizers at home or for a party. And of course, you’ll have less clean up to do later.

 Crispy Tofu with Garlic Sauce (without Deep-Frying) | Chinese | recipes | vegan | vegetarian | gluten free | plant based | baked | healthy | easy | Asian

Cooking video

I’ve created this short video for you, so you can easily get an idea of the workflow. For more Chinese cooking videos and easy dinner ideas, follow my YouTube channel!

More delicious tofu recipes

 Crispy Tofu with Garlic Sauce (without Deep-Frying) | Chinese | recipes | vegan | vegetarian | gluten free | plant based | baked | healthy | easy | Asian

If you give this recipe a try, let us know! Leave a comment, rate it (once you’ve tried it), and take a picture and tag it @omnivorescookbook on Instagram! I’d love to see what you come up with.

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Crispy Tofu with Garlic Sauce (without Deep-Frying) | Chinese | recipes | vegan | vegetarian | gluten free | plant based | baked | healthy | easy | Asian

Crispy Tofu with Garlic Sauce (without Deep-Frying)


  • Author:
  • Prep Time: 5 mins
  • Cook Time: 30 mins
  • Total Time: 35 minutes
  • Yield: 4 servings
  • Category: Appetizer
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: Chinese

Description

A classic Hong Kong street food made in your kitchen. Learn the easiest way to make crispy tofu that tastes greatno deep-frying and marinating needed!


Ingredients

Crispy tofu

  • 1 (12-oz. / 340-g) block extra firm tofu
  • Salt

Garlic sauce

  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce (or tamari for gluten-free option)
  • 1/2 tablespoon sugar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 teaspoon cornstarch
  • 2 teaspoons vegetable oil
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 green onion, chopped (*Footnote 1)
  • (Optional) Toasted sesame seeds for garnish
  • (Optional) Sriracha sauce for serving

Instructions

Crispy tofu

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F (200 C). Line a baking tray with parchment.
  2. Press the water out of the tofu while heating up the oven. Carefully press the tofu with your hands. Slice the tofu into two even-thickness pieces. Wrap a few layers of cheesecloth (or kitchen paper towel) outside the tofu, and place a small tray with a heavy weight on top. The weight can be a jar of pickles or canned tomatoes.
  3. When the oven is heated, cut the tofu into 1/2-inch (1-cm) pieces. (*Footnote 2)
  4. Season both sides with salt. Bake for about 30 minutes, until the tofu turns golden and the surface puffs.
  5. Now you can use it in stir fries or serve the tofu with sauce.

Garlic sauce

  1. Prepare the garlic sauce while baking the tofu. Whisk the soy sauce, sugar, water, and cornstarch in a small bowl until completely dissolved.
  2. Heat the oil in a small pan over a medium heat until hot. Add the garlic and green onions. Stir for 20 seconds to release the aroma.
  3. Stir the sauce again to make sure the cornstarch is dissolved. Pour into the pan. Stir constantly for 10 to 20 seconds, until the sauce has thickened enough to coat the back of a spoon. Transfer immediately into a small bowl, so the sauce won’t overcook in the residual heat.
  4. When the tofu is baked, drizzle the sauce over the tofu. Garnish with green onions and sesame seeds, if using.
  5. Serve immediately as a snack or appetizer.

Notes

  1. Use the white part to cook the sauce and save the green part to garnish the tofu before serving.
  2. It is OK to cut the tofu slightly larger, up to 3/4-inch (1.5-cm) thick. It will take longer for the pieces to crisp up, about 35 to 40 minutes.

Nutrition

  • Serving Size: 1 of the 4 servings
  • Calories: 98cal
  • Sugar: 2.3g
  • Sodium: 463mg
  • Fat: 5.9g
  • Carbohydrates: 5.4g
  • Fiber: 1g
  • Protein: 7.7g
  • Cholesterol: 0
Crispy Tofu with Garlic Sauce (without Deep-Frying) | Chinese | recipes | vegan | vegetarian | gluten free | plant based | baked | healthy | easy | Asian

Disclosure

Omnivore's Cookbook is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.
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Meet Maggie

Hi I’m Maggie Zhu! Welcome to my site about modern Chinese cooking – including street food, family recipes, and restaurant dishes. I take a less labor-intensive approach while maintaining the taste and look of the dish. I am originally from Beijing, and now cook from my Austin, Texas kitchen.

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8 thoughts on “Crispy Tofu with Garlic Sauce (without Deep-Frying)

  1. Wei @ Red House Spice

    Wow! This is magical. Those tofu cubes definitely look like deep fried ones. But you don’t use any oil! I must take a note of this technique (will try it and use in my recipe). Thanks for sharing!

    Reply
  2. Emily

    This recipe is the first I’ve made from this site and I love it! It was easy and quick to make and very satisfying. I will be encouraging my friends who say they don’t like tofu to try this!

    Reply
    1. Maggie Post author

      Thank you for taking time and leaving a comment Emily! I’m so glad to hear you enjoyed this dish 🙂 I hope your friends will love this dish and maybe start to cook with tofu more, because it’s so delicious when you serve with a good stir fry sauce 🙂

      Reply
  3. Amy Shen

    Loved this! My husband is not typically a tofu-lover, but he admitted that this version was wonderful! 🙂

    Reply
    1. Maggie Post author

      Hi Amy, thanks so much for taking time to leave a review, and I’m so happy to hear the recipe worked for you and your husband! Hope you have a great week ahead and can’t wait to see what you will cook the next 🙂

      Reply
  4. stephanie

    ohmygosh this fried tofu looks just like the kind you can get at bbt! i’ve baked tofu before but never without any coating. i’m totally going to try this! thanks for the recipe 🙂

    Reply