This 5-ingredient spicy chile-garlic tofu has a slow warming kick of spice, subtle sweetness, and appealing vinegary tang. It’s dry pan-fried and then tossed in a sweet and spicy chile sauce.
I’m sorry it’s been a bit quiet around here this week. We’re currently on vacation in North Carolina with Dan’s family, and it’s been awesome to unplug and decompress. I’ll be back in the full swing of things come Monday, but I wanted to check-in and leave you with this tasty recipe before heading into the weekend.
This spicy chile-garlic tofu is requires just five ingredients—firm tofu, chile-garlic sauce, pure maple syrup, tamari, and rice vinegar—and can be enjoyed in a variety of ways. For instance, you can. . .
1| Serve it up with brown rice and steamed vegetables for a protein-packed dinner.
2| Enjoy it on its own as a saucy side.
3| Toss it into salads for a zippy protein boost.
4| Tuck it into spring roll wrappers along with crisp, colorful veggies to create summer rolls.
Stay tuned if that last idea strikes your fancy, because I’ll be sharing a recipe for Rainbow Summer Rolls with Chile-Garlic Tofu early next week. They’re packed with a vibrant rainbow of veggies and are an ideal way to nosh on this spicy tofu during the steamy summer days of August.
That said, you’d be remiss to let another weekend pass without giving this spicy, sweet, and tangy tofu a try.
To make it, you’ll start by pressing a block of firm tofu for 20–30 minutes, or until most of the excess water is released (note: you don’t need a fancy tofu press for this, just a heavy pot or pan and some paper towels—see recipe). Meanwhile, you’ll whisk together the chile-garlic sauce, maple syrup, tamari, and rice vinegar.
Once the tofu is pressed, you’ll thinly slice it into small, rectangular pieces and heat a well-seasoned skillet over high heat until hot. You’ll be dry frying the tofu, so it’s important that the pan is very hot or the tofu will stick.
Once both sides of the tofu are cooked and richly golden brown, you’ll reduce the heat, add the chile-garlic sauce, and simmer for just a few minutes to thicken the sauce like so. . .
And that’s it.
This chile-garlic tofu has a slow warming kick of spice, subtle sweetness, and appealing vinegary tang.
5-Ingredient Spicy Chile-Garlic Tofu
- 1 (14-ounce) block firm tofu, drained
- 3 tablespoons chile-garlic sauce*
- 2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
- 2 tablespoons reduced-sodium tamari
- 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
- Wrap the tofu in several layers of paper towels, and place it on a dinner plate. Set a very heavy pot or pan (e.g., cast iron skillet) on top of the wrapped tofu and let stand for at least 20 minutes (preferably 30 minutes) to press the excess water from the tofu.
- Meanwhile, in a medium spouted mixing bowl or glass measuring cup, combine the chile-garlic sauce, maple syrup, tamari, and rice vinegar. Whisk together until combined and set within reach of the stove.
- Carefully unwrap the tofu. Slice it widthwise into 1/4-inch-thick pieces. Then, lay each piece flat and slice in half lengthwise and then widthwise, yielding four small rectangles from each.
- Heat a well-seasoned cast iron skillet or pan over medium-high heat until hot. The heat will sear the surface of the tofu and prevent it from sticking, which is why it's important that the pan is thoroughly heated.
- Once the pan is hot, add the tofu in a single layer (you'll need to do this in two batches). Use the back of a spatula to lightly press down on the tofu (you should hear it sizzle and steam). Cook for 3 to 4 minutes, or until the pan-facing sides are golden-brown. Flip, and continue to cook for another 3 to 4 minutes, or until golden-brown.**
- Reduce the heat to low, return all the tofu to the pan, and add the sauce. Cook for 2 to 4 minutes, or until the sauce thickens slightly and begins to cling to the tofu, stirring frequently
- Transfer the tofu and sauce to a medium mixing bowl and allow it to rest and marinate until ready to serve. Serve on its own or alongside steamed vegetables and/or brown rice.
- Refrigerate leftovers.
**I learned this awesome, dry-fried tofu technique from the Thug Kitchen cookbook, so the credit for its brilliance goes 100% to them.