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Tofu with Spicy Garlic Sauce (Szechuan Yu Xiang-Inspired)

5 from 10 votes
Crispy pieces of tofu in a spicy garlic sauce—the pieces of tofu are like sponges and absorb all the flavours of the sauce, that’s a delicate balance of salty, spicy, and a hint of sweetness.
The sauce is inspired by Szechuan yuxiang 鱼香, also known as fish fragrance (but doesn’t actually contain any seafood), which is a sauce used to cook meat or vegetables in.
This sauce comprised of a mixture of soy sauce, sugar, doubanjiang, chili, black vinegar or Chinkiang vinegar that’s cooked with ginger, garlic, scallions, and chili. This dish is packed with very bold flavours with a nice kick of heat.
Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 15 mins
Total Time 30 mins
Course Appetizer, Main Course, Sauces, Side Dish
Cuisine Asian, Chinese, Sichuan, Szechuan
Servings 3
Calories 220 kcal





  • 2 tbsp neutral oil
  • 1-3 tsp chili powder or flakes adjust according to desired spice level (I used gochugaru) see notes
  • 2 tsp minced ginger
  • 2 tsp minced garlic
  • 1 scallion sliced

To Finish

  • Chopped scallions for garnish
  • Chopped cilantro for garnish


  • You can see the step-by-step images on how to prepare this dish in the blog post above.
  • Dry the tofu. I wrap the tofu in towels and place a plate on top of it until excess liquid is absorbed by the towels. You can also opt to use a tofu press. Once dry, cut into 1-inch strips or cubes (any shape is fine!)
  • Meanwhile, mix all the sauce ingredients and set aside.
  • Heat a large pan or wok over high heat. Add enough oil to coat the surface of the pan or complete submerge the tofu. You can opt to deep-fry or pan-fry your tofu until crisp. If you’re looking to use less oil, you can opt to bake or air-fry your tofu and just spray/brush some oil to coat the tofu.
  • When the oil is hot, add in the tofu. The tofu should immediately sizzle when you add them in the oil.
  • Leave the tofu to cook over medium high until golden brown, around 4 to 5 minutes. You may beed to flip them over if you’re pan-frying them. Repeat until all the sides are golden brown and crisp.
  • Remove the tofu from the oil then set aside. Drain the excess oil form the pan. I have this oil container with a strainer on top that I use to store my oil. Since tofu are very neutral, I can still use this oil for another 1-2 times. Transfer your tofu to a bowl.
  • In the same pan/wok or a smaller sauce pan, heat 2 tbsp neutral oil over medium high heat. Once hot, sauté the ginger and garlic. Once aromatic, around 1 minute, add in the chili flakes/powder and mix into the oil. Pour in the sauce and then leave to simmer to a boil. Once it boils, add in the chopped scallions.
  • Turn off the heat and immediately pour the sizzling hot sauce over your tofu. Finish your tofu with more chopped scallions and chopped cilantro. Mix well and allow the tofu to soak in the sauce and the flavours.
  • Enjoy your tofu wit rice or noodles! I also love using the excess sauce to pour over some boiled noodles.



Doubanjiang or Chili Broad Bean Paste

  • If you don't have access to doubanjiang you can add some doenjang (Korean soy bean paste) or even some miso paste to give this dish that unique saltiness from a fermented bean paste. You'll of course need to add a bit more chili to add to the spice that miso paste and doenjang lack.
  • Sriracha can be a great addition too!

Chili Powder/Flakes

  • I used gochugaru or Korean chili powder for this recipe. It's not as hot as other chiles and has a bright red hue. I added 1/2 tbsp chili powder but you can adjust according to your heat tolerance and desired spice.

Chinese Black Vinegar

  • Chinese black vinegar has a very distinct somewhat fruity flavour that's unlike other vinegar. Though if you don't have access to Chinese black vinegar, you can do away with rice vinegar or even sushi vinegar and just adjust to your taste.


Serving: 1serving | Calories: 220kcal | Carbohydrates: 7g | Protein: 15g | Fat: 15g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 6g | Monounsaturated Fat: 7g | Trans Fat: 1g | Sodium: 787mg | Potassium: 319mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 4g | Vitamin A: 40IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 63mg | Iron: 3mg
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