Home Style Tofu (家常豆腐)

5 from 4 votes
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If you aren’t a tofu lover already, you will be after you try this home style tofu. It has a tender texture and crispy crust along with a savory, lightly spicy sauce and crunchy veggies. {Vegan}

Home style tofu with spicy sauce, peppers and bamboo shoots

Tofu is one of those ingredients I love because it has such a fun texture and you can use it so many different ways. And one of my favorite ways to use it is in this home style tofu recipe. This sauce will turn you into a believer in tofu once you taste it, I promise!

In China, home style tofu is a hugely popular dish. Every family and restaurant has their own special formula for making the sauce. Here, I found my favorite one in Chinatown. They used doubanjiang in the sauce to further boost the taste of the brown sauce. That’s when I decided I needed to recreate it in my own kitchen so I could have it any time the craving struck. 

Homestyle tofu over rice

Create the best tofu texture

In this home style tofu recipe, the tofu is fried until it’s nice, golden, and crispy on the outside yet soft inside. It then is braised in a savory, lightly spicy sauce loaded up with fresh aromatics and vegetables that contrast with the texture of the tofu.

When you fry the tofu for home style tofu, the tofu releases water during this process which creates small holes inside the tofu. That’s how you get that tender texture and it also absorbs more flavor. Meanwhile, the outside gets nice and crisp and holds the rest of it together. 

I highly recommend using medium or soft tofu for this recipe for the best mouthfeel. While the frying method is more complicated than pan-frying, it also delivers a more rewarding result. 

Home style tofu close up

Extra rich sauce

The secret ingredient is doubanjiang, or fermented spicy bean paste. It’s a condiment made mostly from fermented fava beans. The savory flavor is further enhanced with chili, salt, and sesame oil. It’s at the root of all Sichuan cuisine, delivering a signature brown hue and spiciness to enhance the flavor. If you’ve never had it, I think it is as umami as soy sauce is, though with more of a fermented potency to it.

Ingredients

I prefer to use plenty of vegetables to add color and texture to the dish. I used carrots, peppers, and bamboo shoots in the dish. You can use other vegetables, as you prefer. Baby bok choy, soaked wood ear mushrooms, onions, and broccoli are some of the most popular options.

How to cut the tofu

To cut the tofu into triangular shaped pieces, here is a quick way to do it.

How to cut tofu for stir fry

Your table should have the ingredients below before you start cooking.

Ingredients for making home style tofu

Cooking process

  1. Deep fry the tofu until it’s golden on the outside
  2. Stir fry the aromatics with doubanjiang
  3. Add the fried tofu
  4. Add the vegetables and slightly cook them
  5. Pour in the sauce
  6. Add the green onion and cook until the sauce thickens
How to make home style tofu step-by-step

NOTE: The tofu frying might be the most challenging step in this recipe. If you prefer to pan fry the tofu, that’s totally fine. But if you have some extra time or if you’re hosting a dinner party, I highly recommend you fry the tofu. It creates the best texture, just like the one you’d get from a Chinese restaurant – soft and somehow toothy, and it absorbs way more sauce than the pan-fried version.

Jia Chang tofu over rice

In China, home style tofu often includes ground meat in the sauce to add another layer of depth to the dish. However, this recipe doesn’t include any meat. The sauce is already flavorful enough and a perfect way to serve it is atop steamed rice or boiled noodles for a healthy and delicious meal that tastes authentic. 

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If you aren’t a tofu lover already, you will be after you try this home style tofu. It has a tender texture and crispy crust along with a savory, lightly spicy sauce and crunchy veggies. {Vegan}

Home Style Tofu (家常豆腐)

5 from 4 votes
If you aren’t a tofu lover already, you will be after you try this home style tofu. It has a tender texture and crispy crust along with a savory, lightly spicy sauce and crunchy veggies. {Vegan}
Author: Maggie Zhu
Course: Main
Cuisine: Chinese
Keyword: restaurant-style
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
Servings: 2 to 4 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 block (14 oz/396 g) soft or medium firm tofu , cut into 1 cm thick triangles (Footnote 1)
  • 1 cup vegetable oil , for deep frying
  • 4 cloves garlic , sliced
  • 1 " (2.5 cm) ginger , thinly sliced into strips
  • 3 green onions , cut into 1" pieces, white and green parts separated
  • 1 tablespoon doubanjiang
  • 1/2 carrot , sliced (about 1/3 cup)
  • 1 bell pepper , cut into 1” diamonds
  • 1 (8-oz / 226 g) can sliced bamboo shoots , or 1 bamboo shoot, sliced (about 1/3 cup)
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil

Sauce

Slurry

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 1 tablespoon water

Instructions

  • Mix the sauce ingredients together in a medium bowl.
  • Add the slurry ingredients into a small bowl and stir to mix well.
  • In a high-walled skillet or pot, heat the oil to 375°F (190°C). Carefully add the tofu. Fry until both sides turn golden, about 3 minutes. Flip once or twice to ensure even cooking. Remove the tofu from the oil and transfer it to a big plate.
  • Pour off all but 1 tablespoon of oil from the pan (alternatively, you can heat 1 tablespoon of oil in another large skillet).
  • Add the garlic, ginger, green onion (white part), and doubanjiang to the pan. Turn the heat to medium. Stir fry to release the fragrance until the oil turns red, about 2 minutes.
  • Add the fried tofu, carrots, bell peppers, and bamboo. Stir fry for 30 seconds to 1 minute.
  • Pour in the sauce. Bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer, gently flipping occasionally. Simmer for 5 minutes.
  • Add the green onion (green part). Mix the slurry again so the cornstarch is fully dissolved. Pour in the slurry and mix with a spatula until the sauce thickens.
  • Drizzle in a teaspoon of sesame oil to finish up.
  • Serve hot over steamed rice as a main dish.

Notes

  1. Be careful that you are not buying silken tofu. Some brands carry soft tofu (e.g. House Foods), that are too smooth and will not develop the desired texture.
  2. If you do not wish to make the dish vegan, you can use regular oyster sauce instead.

Nutrition

Serving: 1serving, Calories: 218kcal, Carbohydrates: 16.3g, Protein: 11.5g, Fat: 12.4g, Saturated Fat: 1.6g, Cholesterol: 1mg, Sodium: 786mg, Potassium: 469mg, Fiber: 3.6g, Sugar: 8.1g, Calcium: 152mg, Iron: 3mg
Did You Make This Recipe?Don’t forget the last step! Tag me @OmnivoresCookbook and #OmnivoresCookbook on Instagram!

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.

Other delicious tofu recipes

Lilja Walter is a part of the Omnivore’s Cookbook team and worked closely with Maggie to develop and test this recipe.

If you aren’t a tofu lover already, you will be after you try this home style tofu. It has a tender texture and crispy crust along with a savory, lightly spicy sauce and crunchy veggies. {Vegan}

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Reader Questions and Reviews

  1. Rafe says:

    5 stars
    LOVE this, easily one of my favorite dishes I’ve made from your site. I’m made a bunch, thank you for making these so easy, but also doing them in a way where I think, holy cow, this tastes better than a restaurant (or just as good)

  2. Shannon says:

    So, not sure what I did wrong but the tofu never crisped up. Does anyone make sure the tofu is completely dry…or use corn starch to dry it out? I fried for over 10 minutes and it never turned brown.I fried for over ever. Switched to steak since I had everything chopped and ready. Ugh what did I do wrong?

    • Richard Fry says:

      Hi Shannon,
      You don’t list what you did according to the recipe that is published. In order to respond to your question one first has to assume you followed the directions, otherwise, it is hard to deduce without a starting point.
      The text does make clear that the preferred method of cooking the correct type of tofu is deep drying.
      If a person is not a regular tofu cooker and eater it can be challenging. It is, however, rewarding and opens a new avenue for good tasting nutritious food.
      Perhaps your oil was not deep or hot enough? Maybe the pan was too small for the amount of tofu you were trying to cook in oil that was not hot enough, to begin with?
      Hard to say without any specifics, but don’t give up, get a package of tofu and experiment. Make some dipping sauces and work for a while until you get it right.
      It will be a skill you are proud of and a delicious way to add to your repertoire of recipes.
      Regards

  3. Jennifer D says:

    5 stars
    You’ve knocked it out of the park again! Such a great simple recipe that yields amazing results, much love to you and thank you for sharing this delicious recipe.

    • Maggie says:

      Hi Jennifer, so happy to hear you like this one because it’s one of my favorite too 🙂

  4. Joy says:

    5 stars
    I loved this recipe. The flavour is spot on and it was super easy to make. The only thing I did not love was frying the tofu, but it was worth it in the end.

    • Maggie says:

      I’m so glad you like this one because it’s one of my favorites! I know, frying the tofu is such a pain and I don’t like it either. When I feel lazy I just pan fry them. But if you want the perfect texture, frying is the way to go.

  5. JM says:

    I didn’t see anything about pressing the tofu. I’m assuming that needs to be done…?

    • Maggie Zhu says:

      No you don’t need to press tofu for this recipe (I rarely press tofu in any of my dishes).
      Pressing tofu helps the tofu absorb marinade a bit better, but it doesn’t make a big difference in many other recipes when marinating is not required.

  6. Alice says:

    5 stars
    Great recipe – to avoid frying in oil I froze then defrosted my tofu to create a more spongy texture and chucked it in my air fryer (no oil needed) for a few mins – the texture was perfect for this dish and the tofu absorbed the delicious sauce so well!

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