Easy Steamed Tofu (蒸豆腐)

5 from 3 votes
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Silky tender tofu is steamed then drizzled with a fragrant aromatic oil and a rich sauce that is savory and sweet. It’s a beautiful hot appetizer that is simple and surprisingly satisfying. Serve it as a light meal with steamed rice or as part of a multi-course dinner. {Vegetarian, Vegan, Gluten-Free Adaptable}

Homemade steamed tofu with sauce and green onions

Today I want to introduce a beautiful and easy steamed tofu that can be enjoyed as a hot appetizer or quick lunch. 

In China, we enjoy tofu prepared with all kinds of different cooking techniques and ingredients, with little consideration as to whether it’s vegetarian or not. For example, my mom often uses tofu in soups and salads. Many popular tofu dishes usually ordered in a restaurant, such as Mapo Tofu and Home Style Tofu, are paired with other proteins and vegetables. Moreover, we enjoy tofu with all kinds of textures, such as soft, semi-firm, fried, and frozen. I have noticed that here in the US, the firm and extra firm tofu are treasured but most people won’t touch the soft stuff unless they’re making a smoothie. 

This steamed tofu is great to fully realize the potential of soft tofu, creating a dish that has great texture, rich taste, and a stunning presentation.

Homemade steamed tofu close up
Chopsticks holding a piece of soft tofu with sauce

Why steam tofu

Steaming tofu serves two purposes.

  1. It removes the moisture from the soft tofu and makes the texture silkier and less watery. 
  2. It helps get rid of the raw soybean taste from uncooked tofu, giving it a cleaner flavor.

As a consequence your tofu will be warm, which is a great way to add variety to your dinner table, and it’s more suitable to serve with steamed rice if you plan to use it as a main dish. Of course, you can serve the steamed tofu cold. And there is another benefit – once you steam tofu, you can make the dish in advance and the tofu won’t release any further moisture to dilute the sauce after it’s been handled and seasoned. 

Ingredients

First of all, make sure you get a block of soft tofu. It’s possible to make this dish using medium or firm tofu, but the soft type yields the best result.

Check out my video to see how I cut and plate the tofu. Soft tofu is very delicate and needs to be handled with care. And if you accidentally break apart some pieces, no worries at all! The result will be tasty nonetheless.

Mise en place

Your table should have the plated tofu, chopped aromatics, oil, Sichuan peppercorns (or black pepper), and mixed sauce.

NOTE: I placed all the aromatics in one bowl for easy cleanup. The green onions are not used in the aromatic oil but can be tasty if you add a small amount of them. I use the rest for garnish.

Easy Steamed Tofu (蒸豆腐)

Cooking process

Cooking steamed tofu is super simple:

  1. Steam the tofu for a few minutes. Once done, let it cool slightly, then drain off as much water as you can. 
  2. Fry the aromatics in hot oil until fragrant.
  3. Pour the oil over the plated tofu. 
  4. Swirl in the sauce and serve.

The hot aromatic oil removes the raw taste from the ginger and garlic, and it slightly sizzles the tofu for a better taste. It truly makes a difference! 

Ingredients for making steamed tofu

To serve steamed tofu

Steamed tofu can be served warm or cold. You can use it as an appetizer in a multi-course meal, or a light main dish served over rice. 

To eat, use a spoon to scoop a piece of tofu with plenty of sauce and enjoy! And no worries about breaking apart the tofu. Because of the steaming process, the broken pieces won’t release more moisture to dilute the sauce.

Steamed tofu with sauce close up

Afterthought 

This steamed tofu might not look as familiar as other popular tofu dishes, but I hope you give it a try if you enjoy tofu! And I hope this post and my video help you find a new way to use soft tofu in a savory dish.

Other Delicious Tofu Recipes

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Silky tender tofu is steamed then drizzled with a fragrant aromatic oil and a rich sauce that is savory and sweet. It’s a beautiful hot appetizer that is simple and surprisingly satisfying. Serve it as a light meal with steamed rice or as part of a multi-course dinner. {Vegetarian, Vegan, Gluten-Free Adaptable}

Easy Steamed Tofu (蒸豆腐)

5 from 3 votes
Silky tender tofu is steamed then drizzled with a fragrant aromatic oil and a rich sauce that is savory and sweet. It’s a beautiful hot appetizer that is simple and surprisingly satisfying. Serve it as a light meal with steamed rice or as part of a multi-course dinner. {Vegetarian, Vegan, Gluten-Free Adaptable}
Author: Maggie Zhu
Course: Appetizer
Cuisine: Chinese
Keyword: homestyle
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 8 minutes
Total Time: 18 minutes
Servings: 2 to 4 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 block (1 lb / 450 g) soft tofu , drained and sliced into 1/2” (1 cm) thick pieces

Sauce

Aromatic oil

Instructions

Steam Tofu

  • Prepare the steamer by adding 2” (5 cm) water to the pot and heat over medium-high heat until brought to a boil.
  • Arrange the tofu on a plate that can fit into your steamer with as little overlap as possible. Place the plate onto the steaming rack.
  • When the water is boiling, add the steaming rack. Steam covered for 6 minutes. Once done, carefully remove the plate from the steamer (*Footnote 1). Let the plate cool off for a few minutes. Then tilt the plate to drain off as much water as you can.

Sauce

  • While cooking the tofu, mix the light soy sauce, vegetarian oyster sauce, sugar and salt together in a small bowl.

Make aromatic oil

  • When the tofu is ready, heat the oil in a small skillet over medium heat until hot but not smoking. Add the chili peppers, garlic, ginger, a small amount of the green onion (*Footnote 2), and Sichuan peppercorns. Stir a few times until the chili peppers turn dark red. Immediately pour the oil with everything evenly over the tofu. Then pour the mixed sauce over the tofu.
  • Serve warm or at room temperature as an appetizer, or over steamed rice as a main dish.

Notes

  1. If the plate is too hot and difficult to remove from the steamer, place the steaming rack over a coaster to cool first. You will need to wear a pair of oven mitts if the plate is still hot. Or you can use one of those plate lifters to remove the hot plate from the steamer.
  2. Adding some green onion to the hot oil creates a better taste, however the dish looks nicer with some raw onions for garnish. If you do not like the raw taste of the green onions, use a bit more of them in the oil.

Video

Nutrition

Serving: 1serving, Calories: 81kcal, Carbohydrates: 4.6g, Protein: 8g, Fat: 4.3g, Saturated Fat: 0.6g, Sodium: 264mg, Potassium: 184mg, Fiber: 0.6g, Calcium: 136mg, Iron: 2mg
Did You Make This Recipe?Don’t forget the last step! Leave a comment below, and tag me @OmnivoresCookbook and #OmnivoresCookbook on Instagram!

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Reader Questions and Reviews

  1. Rosemary Mark says:

    5 stars
    This is delicious and was my introduction to how to steam tofu. I used soft silken and firm. Next time I’ll try soft or regular tofu.

    • Maggie Zhu says:

      So happy to hear you tried this one and thanks for leaving a positive review! I think the recipe should work with many different types of tofu. Let me know which is your favorite 🙂

  2. Kendra Patterson says:

    5 stars
    Delicious! I drizzled the chili oil that I made from the recipe on this site on top along with the sauce and aromatics, and served over rice. Another classic from this site to add to my recipe book. Thank you!

    • Maggie Zhu says:

      So happy to hear you made this one! And pouring hot chili oil sounds so good 🙂

  3. Dan Chan says:

    5 stars
    This recipe is very flavorful. Excellent vegetarian dish.

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