Stir Fried Bok Choy with Tofu Puffs

5 from 8 votes
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A super quick and easy stir fried bok choy with tofu puffs that only uses five ingredients and takes 15 minutes to prep and cook. The crisp bok choy is lightly caramelized and combined with tender tofu in a savory and slightly sweet sauce. It is surprisingly satisfying to eat as a side dish, and sometimes I serve it as a light main dish for lunch over steamed rice. {Vegan, Gluten-Free Adaptable}

Stir fried bok choy with tofu puffs

This stir fried bok choy with tofu puffs is one of my favorite veggie dishes. I ate it growing up in China and have continuously cooked it as part of the dinner rotation now, living in the US. Whenever my mom would serve this dish during dinner, I’d get very excited. The dish is super simple, yet strangely satisfying. The porous tofu puffs soak up all the great flavor and have a meaty texture. They’re accompanied by bok choy that’s stir fried until just tender and caramelized yet still a bit crunchy.

It’s a great way to get a good amount of green veggies in your weekday dinner. 

Stir fried bok choy with tofu puffs close up

Ingredients

Tofu puffs (deep fried tofu)

If you’ve never tried tofu puffs (逗泡, or deep fried tofu) before, I highly recommend you give them a try. In Chinese Buddist cooking, fried tofu is usually used as a meat alternative to make a dish vegetarian. It has a spongy and airy texture, with a golden and slightly oily surface. It works like magic with veggies, both in stir fried dishes and in stews. Functioning similarly to meat, the fried tofu adds richness and meaty texture to a dish. Plus, because of its porous texture, it will absorb tons of flavor from the sauce or broth it’s cooked in.

You can usually find tofu puffs at Asian markets. They are either in the refrigerated section near the other tofu products or in the freezer. You can store them in the fridge for a week or two, but they’ll stay good for months in the freezer.  

NOTE: Tofu puffs are called deep fried tofu sometimes, but they’re different from the fried tofu you might make at home. Because tofu puffs are less about crispiness and more about airy texture. I’ve tried a few ways to take regular tofu and fry it at home, but none of the experiments achieved the texture of store-bought tofu puffs.

How to prepare bok choy

You can either use bok choy or slightly larger heads of baby bok choy to cook this dish. To make sure they cook evenly in a stir fry, here is my favorite way to cut it:

  1. Cut off and discard the tough end on the bottom. 
  2. Tear off the outer large leaves until the tender core portion is exposed. Halve the core.
  3. For the larger leaves, slice the white part into bite-sized pieces. For baby bok choy, you can keep the pieces square. However, if you have giant heads of bok choy (those usually found in a regular grocery store instead of an Asian market), you can slice them thinly because the white part is much thicker than that of baby bok choy.
  4. For the green leafy part, leave it as-is if it is under 5” (12 cm) long. For giant leaves, further halve or cut them into thirds. The leaves will shrink a lot during cooking so you should keep the pieces larger.

For a perfect texture, you can even separate the white and green parts and cook the white part a bit longer. But I’m usually lazy and add everything at once. When the white part is cooked yet still crisp, the green parts are withered and quite tender. It’s a texture contrast that I enjoy a lot. 

How to cut bok choy

Mise en place

Your table should have the bok choy, tofu puffs, soy sauce, sugar and green onions before you start cooking.

Ingredients for making stir fried bok choy with tofu puffs
Bok choy stir fry with fried tofu

How to cook stir fried bok choy with tofu puffs

Wok vs. skillet

In the past I’ve talked about the reasons not to use a wok, and the benefits of a wok vs. skillet. I have to admit that I use a large heavy skillet for most of my stir fry recipes. However, I do like to use a small flat bottomed wok to cook simple dishes like this stir fried bok choy with tofu puffs. 

The reason is: 

  • A small wok can hold a lot of vegetables yet it’s easy to handle
  • Since this recipe uses very simple seasonings, wok hei will make the dish stand out more

If you’re using a wok, check out this old video that I made when I was back in China. 

On the other hand, you can totally use a skillet to make this dish. I prefer a carbon steel or cast iron skillet over a nonstick one, because the bok choy will be charred better. 

But either case, you should be using high or close to high heat the whole time and you should hear a continuous, loud sizzling sound. But if the skillet starts to smoke too heavily, turn to medium heat. The cooking will be done in less than 4 minutes. 

Cooking process

Cooking stir fried bok choy with tofu puffs couldn’t be easier:

  1. Stir fry the green onion in oil to release the fragrance
  2. Add the bok choy and stir a few times to coat it with oil
  3. Pour in the soy sauce and sugar, then give it a quick stir
  4. Add the tofu puffs and cover the pan to steam it briefly
  5. Uncover the pan and stir to mix everything together

That’s it! The bok choy will be blistered, with a light charred edge caused by the soy sauce and sugar combo. The bok choy should be tender yet with the white part still a bit crisp. The tofu puffs soak up all the goodness from the aromatic oil and the sauce. Top it on white rice and enjoy!

How to cook stir fried bok choy with tofu puffs step-by-step
Chinese bok choy stir fry with fried tofu close up

Dishes that go with stir fried bok choy with tofu puffs

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A super quick and easy stir fried bok choy with tofu puffs that only uses five ingredients and takes 15 minutes to prep and cook. The crisp bok choy is lightly caramelized and combined with tender tofu in a savory and slightly sweet sauce. It is surprisingly satisfying to eat as a side dish, and sometimes I serve it as a light main dish for lunch over steamed rice. {Vegan, Gluten-Free Adaptable}

Stir Fried Bok Choy with Tofu Puffs

5 from 8 votes
A super quick and easy stir fried bok choy with tofu puffs that only uses five ingredients and takes 15 minutes to prep and cook. The crisp bok choy is lightly caramelized and combined with tender tofu in a savory and slightly sweet sauce. It is surprisingly satisfying to eat as a side dish, and sometimes I serve it as a light main dish for lunch over steamed rice. {Vegan, Gluten-Free Adaptable}
To make the dish gluten-free, use tamari to replace light soy sauce.
Author: Maggie Zhu
Course: Side
Cuisine: Chinese
Keyword: home style
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 15 minutes
Servings: 2 to 4

Ingredients

  • 1 lb (450 g) bok choy , chopped to bite size pieces (see the cutting method in the post above)
  • 1 heaping cup (60 grams) tofu puffs , halved
  • 2 green onions , sliced
  • 1 tablespoon peanut oil (or vegetable oil)
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 2 tablespoons light soy sauce (or soy sauce)

Instructions

  • Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a medium-sized wok or large skillet over high heat until hot. Add scallion and stir a few times until fragrant.
  • Add bok choy. Stir and cook for 1 to 2 minutes, to coat evenly with oil.
  • Sprinkle it with sugar and swirl in light soy sauce. Immediately stir a few times to mix well. Add deep fried tofu, then stir again for about 20 seconds.
  • Cover the wok and lower to medium-low heat. Steam for 30 seconds. Uncover and stir to check the doneness. Cover and cook for another 10 to 20 seconds again, if necessary, until the bok choy is cooked through and slightly caramelized on the edges. Turn off the heat and transfer everything to a serving plate.
  • Serve hot as a side dish or over steamed rice as a light main dish.

Video

Nutrition

Serving: 1serving, Calories: 93kcal, Carbohydrates: 6.1g, Protein: 4.8g, Fat: 6.5g, Saturated Fat: 1g, Sodium: 528mg, Potassium: 344mg, Fiber: 1.9g, Sugar: 3g, Calcium: 179mg, Iron: 2mg
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Reader Questions and Reviews

  1. Kathleen | HapaNom says:

    5 stars
    I LOVE the video of your mom cooking! That must have been so much fun! This dish looks absolutely fabulous and delicious. Btw, that is probably the thickest scallion I’ve ever seen!

  2. mira says:

    5 stars
    This stir fry looks so easy to make and delicious! I like fried tofu! Love the video! Pinned!

  3. Nami | Just One Cookbook says:

    5 stars
    This is one of my favorite combination. I like veggies and my son loves tofu… so we like to put them together in one dish. I will make this very soon – I need authentic recipe! 😉

  4. K / Pure & Complex says:

    I am such a HUGE fan of stir fry and this looks amazing.

  5. Kelly says:

    Love everything in this stir fry! Tofu and bok choy are my favorites! Looks so fresh and delicious!

  6. 5 stars
    I ADORE deep fried tofu. I love it especially in laksa because of the way it sucks up the soup!! Always looking for interesting ways to eat veggies and this is a perfect one. Thanks Maggie!!!

  7. Lisa @ Healthy Nibbles & Bits says:

    I know so many people who say that they don’t like tofu, but they really haven’t tried all the different kinds yet. They only think of tofu as the solid white block. If only they would branch out! This dish definitely looks fantastic!

  8. Amy V says:

    Maggie, I cooked this tonight and it was fantastic. Just wanted to let you know. I’m working in China right now and and just love Asian-style vegetable dishes. I ate a huge plate of this and thought about having seconds–not something most people would say about vegetables!

    • Maggie says:

      Hi Amy, I’m very very glad you like this dish! You’re living in China now, so you’ve probably found out this kind of simple dish is the thing we cook and eat everyday. I like it a lot too, although I always prefer meat over vegetables. lol
      Hope you have a wonderful time living in China. And please feel free to drop me a message if you’re looking for a recipe. I’d like to create it for you 🙂

  9. Kim Grey says:

    Hi Maggie, This recipe looks so delicious and easy! I’m definitely going to try it soon. I’m always looking for quick, delicious recipes for my family. I just hope my 2-year-old soon will eat the bok choy. I’m trying to get him interested in greens.

    • Maggie says:

      Hi Kim, I’m so glad you found my recipes helpful! This is a recipe my mom told me and I love it a lot. The sauce will be infused into the bok choy and the crispy tofu, so the dish will be very flavorful. I hope your 2-year-old son will like it! 🙂

  10. Kimi Wei says:

    Maggie, what does a charred vegetable look like? I am thinking that once a veggie is mixed with sauce, it will not develop a char.

    • Maggie says:

      My previous description was not very accurate and I just changed “charred” into “caramelized”. After pouring into the soy sauce and sugar, they will caramelize immediately due to the high heat of the wok.

  11. Elise says:

    5 stars
    This was super easy. I wasn’t sure it would be flavorful enough since there were so few ingredients, but this really surprised me! I was able to whip it up in about 20 minutes, and I’m usually pretty slow in the kitchen. It was also great as leftovers! Giving it a little more time to sit in the sauce made it almost better.

    I think next time I might add some ginger. It just seemed to be missing a little something.

    • Maggie says:

      Hi Elise, I’m so glad to hear you like the dish! Yes, some ginger or garlic will definitely make it more flavorful. I usually just chop up whatever I have at home to make this one and it always turns out great. Happy cooking and hope it turns out even better the next time 🙂

  12. Susan says:

    5 stars
    I didn’t have deep fried tofu, so I fried mine in avocado oil. I followed the recipe for the rest and it was YUMMY! This has now been added to my go to recipes. I will also be adding a little bit of sugar to my soy sauce recipes as it reduced the bite of the soy sauce. YUM!

  13. Bill Zigrang says:

    Cast iron (almost) round-bottom wok with 3 feet — OLD SCHOOL RULES!!

    • Maggie Zhu says:

      Yeah, my mom has one and it’s so good! It’s not too big and has a longer handle so you can easily move it around. The cast iron is just thick enough to retain heat, but not too thick to be super heavy. Wish I can find something like this in the US…

  14. RB says:

    5 stars
    Very simple and tasty. Used Napa cabbage instead of bok choy since that is what I had, and it was good. First time I tried the soy puffs and they were good and easy to add and use. Because I used Napa cabbage it was a bit soggier than bok choy would have been, but overall fla or was simple but tasty.

    • Maggie Zhu says:

      So happy to hear you made this! I think napa cabbage is a great alternative. I would use a small amount of cornstarch slurry (maybe 1 teaspoon cornstarch dissolved in 1 tablespoon water) to thicken the sauce if you’re making it with napa cabbage the next time. Thanks for leaving a positive review 🙂

  15. Kaitlyn says:

    5 stars
    I made a version of this with some sliced king oyster mushrooms, and added garlic, vegetarian oyster sauce, white pepper, and some sesame oil. Super delicious and I highly recommend the add-ins!

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