Need an easy tofu recipe? Here’s a really simple and easy braised tofu, also known as bean curd, that you can easily cook up on a weekday to enjoy with a bowl of steamed rice.
WHAT IS BRAISED TOFU?
The pieces of tofu are cooked to a golden brown crisp before being simmered in a deliciously savoury soy-based sauce for it to soak up all the flavours. It’s so tasty!
Growing up we’d often have braised dishes at home. My mom would usually fry pieces of tofu and sometimes even fish before cooking it down in a sauce. This way the fried fish and tofu would absorb the flavours really well.
We also love to add lots of veggies like bell pepper and scallions. Leeks and ginger are a great addition too since it adds extra flavour and texture to the dish. Plus when cooked down, it creates a nice earthy flavour.
THE EXTRA FIRM TOFU
I started, of course, with the tofu. I used firm tofu for this easy braised tofu recipe but you can opt to use extra firm tofu for easier handling. I do prefer using medium firm to firm tofu (or even silken, if you’re up for the challenge!) since I love it when I get that nice soft bite at the centre of the tofu even after frying.
PRESSING THE TOFU
Why do I need to press my tofu?
Pressing is, for me, a must because it helps to squeeze out any excess water! Tofu is like a sponge so it absorbs sauces and liquids really well. I like to make sure my tofu is pressed well so it can absorb flavours instead of the water that it’s already soaked up.
To press your tofu: I like to wrap my tofu in a towel and placing a flat heavy surface on top to press it down and remove excess liquid. This way, your tofu will absorb more flavours when cooking. You can also use a tofu press, if you have one.
I sliced the tofu into 1” (2.5 cm) square pieces but you can opt to slice it however way you want.
CHILIES AND PEPPERS
I also used some scallions, garlic, and bell pepper for this recipe along with dried chili.
I love having dried chilies on hand because they can give that kick of spice to dishes. It’s totally optional but I love this dish with a little bit of spiciness.
You can opt to use fresh chili or even some hot sauce if you want some heat in your tofu.
Now on to the sauce—the sauce is a really simple mix of soy sauces, sugar, Shaoxing wine (Chinese cooking wine), vegetarian “oyster” sauce, and some cornstarch to thicken. It’s also the dark soy sauce that gives this dish the dark brown colour so if you’re skipping the dark soy sauce and opting for regular soy sauce, it may not turn as brown!
COOKING THE TOFU
PREPARING THE BRAISED TOFU
I then basically cooked the tofu to a crisp on a pan until golden brown throughout—but you can opt to bake or even air-fry them if you’re looking to use less oil.
I then set the tofu aside on a place before sautéing the rest of the ingredients.
Once they’re tender, I added in the sauce and water.
I then then added back the tofu in for the pieces to simmer and braise to absorb all the flavours!
Trust me when I say that this easy braised tofu recipe is so good and satisfying especially if you have it warm with some steamed rice.
So enjoy this easy braised tofu with your favourite grain or even noodles for a really hearty meal.
You can also use a clay pot to cook down this braised tofu if you have one. 🙂
It’s a dish we often have at home and I really love scooping the sauce and pouring it over my rice!
You can also check out my other vegan tofu recipes here or down below:
- Hakka-Style Stuffed Tofu
- Korean Spicy Braised Tofu
- Fried ‘Chicken’ and Gravy
- Tofu Katsu
- Nori-Wrapped Tofu in Spicy Sauce
- Maple Hoisin Tofu
- Orange Tofu
- Pan-Fried Tofu Cakes
- Tofu ‘McNuggets’
Easy Braised Tofu
For Cooking and Serving
- 1 cup water
- Toasted sesame seeds for topping
- More chopped scallions for topping
- You can watch the video below to see how to cook this braised tofu.
- Press your tofu for at least 10 minutes to drain out excess liquid. I like to wrap mine in a towel and place a heavy flat surface on top (such as a few plates).
- Slice the scallions into 2” long pieces. Prepare the bell pepper, garlic, and chili (if using), as well.
- Slice the tofu in 3/4 to 1” (2.5 cm) thick pieces.
- Meanwhile, mix all the sauce ingredients in a bowl until the sugar and cornstarch has dissolved.
- Heat a large non-stick pan over medium high heat. Add in enough oil to cover the surface. Alternatively, you can opt to bake or air-fry your tofu until golden brown and crisp.
- Add the tofu in the pan then pan-fry on each side until golden brown and crisp, around 6 to 7 minutes on each side.
- Transfer the tofu to a plate and set aside.
- Remove the oil from the pan and then heat over medium high heat again. Add in some sesame oil. Sauté the scallions, garlic, dried chilli, and bell pepper until tender, around 3 minutes.
- Give the sauce a good mix again to make sure the starch doesn't stick to the bottom of the bowl. Over medium heat, pour in the water and sauce into the pan.
- Mix well and then add in the tofu into the sauce. Leave the sauce to simmer over medium high heat, and once it boils, lower the heat to medium.
- Leave the tofu to cook in the sauce for 4 to 5 minutes for the tofu to absorb the flavours. The sauce will also start to thicken slowly as it cooks down. Taste the tofu and feel free to season with more soy sauce, if needed.
- Turn off the heat and then serve warm with some rice for a perfectly hearty and satisfying meal. Feel free to top your tofu with more sesame seeds and chopped scallions. Enjoy!