Quick and easy tofu stir-fry is a great way to serve tofu whether you’re a long-time fan or new to cooking this plant-based protein.
For the longest time, tofu was one of those things that I usually ordered out for myself but rarely made for my family. I was nervous that the people around my dinner table would revolt if I presented this plant-based protein instead of my other go-to proteins like chicken or chickpeas. But tofu is too convenient not to make a regular part of our dinner rotation.
I started with Sweet Thai Chili Baked Tofu (because who can resist sticky sweet Thai Chili Sauce) and then I started subbing tofu for chicken in these Satay-inspired bowls. No one at my table rebelled, and the leftovers disappeared out of the fridge. Tofu works well with a variety of cooking methods, but it is a real star in a stir-fry where it soaks up flavorful sauce and adds texture to crisp-tender vegetables. A key element of this easy stir-fry is cashews on top. Don’t skip them - they add such a nice crunch.
Tofu Stir-Fry Sauce
The best sauce for any variety of stir-fry has a mix of flavors - savory (from soy sauce), sweet (sugar, honey, or agave), and tart (from rice vinegar). For even more flavor, add toasted sesame oil and aromatics like fresh ginger or fresh garlic.
Be sure to add water to the sauce. This will allow the sauce to simmer and reduce as it coats the tofu and vegetables without becoming too salty.
Extra-firm tofu is the key to a great tofu stir-fry. Extra-firm tofu will hold its shape well as it cooks and is sturdy enough to get crisp on the outside and stay tender in the center. It is slightly porous and will absorb some of the flavors of the sauce. Don’t be distracted by the wide variety of tofu you’ll see on the grocery store shelf - just grab the Extra-firm.
1. Drain. If the tofu is packed in water, drain off the water.
2. Press. For the best texture, squeeze out as much water as possible. Do this by placing the block of tofu between clean dish towels or paper towels and placing something heavy on top (like a heavy skillet or a plate weighted down by a few cans).
3. Slice. Slice tofu into your preferred shape.
Vegetables for Stir-Fry
Even though this recipe uses asparagus, stir-fry is a great clean-out-the fridge dish, so you can use almost any type of vegetable you have in the fridge. Try your stir-fry with:
- Bell peppers
- Snow peas
- Baby corn
More Plant-Based Dinner Recipes
- Black Bean and Zucchini Enchiladas
- No-Noodle Butternut Squash Lasagna
- Tex Mex Stuffed Zucchini
- Green Curry Vegetable Ramen Bowls
- Summer Vegetable Paella
Favorite Tools for Asian-Inspired Recipes
- Joyce Chen Carbon Steel Wok - This affordable wok is the only one I use. I’ve had it for 10+ years and the only care it needs is to be washed out, dried well, and rubbed with oil before storing.
- Wok Spatula - This spatula fits perfectly around the curved edges of a wok.
- Splatter Screen - Perfect for keeping your stovetop (reasonably) clean.
Tofu Stir-Fry with Asparagus and Cashews
- Mixing Bowl
- Large Skillet
- ½ cup Water
- 3 Tablespoons Low-Sodium Soy Sauce (see note)
- 1 teaspoon grated Fresh Ginger
- 1 Tablespoon Cornstarch
- 1 Tablespoon Dark Brown Sugar (can use light brown sugar)
- 1 Tablespoon Rice Vinegar
- 2 teaspoons Toasted Sesame Oil
- 1 15 ounce container Extra-Firm Tofu, pressed, drained and sliced into bite-sized cubes
- 1 Tablespoon Cornstarch
- ½ teaspoon Kosher Salt
- ¼ teaspoon Garlic Powder (not garlic salt)
- 3 Tablespoons Cooking Oil, divided, plus more as needed
- 3 cups chopped Asparagus
- 1 cup Cashews, Roasted and Unsalted
- 4 stalks Green Onions, roughly chopped
- Cooked Rice or Noodles, for serving
- Gently toss tofu in 1 Tablespoon cornstarch, salt, and garlic powder until evenly coated. Set aside.
- Whisk together all ingredients for sauce (or place in a jar with a lid and shake well). You’ll need to whisk or shake extra well to dissolve all lumps of cornstarch. Set aside.
- In a large skillet over medium heat 2 Tablespoons cooking oil. When oil begins to shimmer, add tofu in a single layer, leaving some space between the cubes (do this in batches if needed, adding more oil if the pan starts to look dry). Cook on one side until golden brown and then continue turning until golden brown on nearly all sides, 6 to 8 minutes total. Transfer tofu to a paper towel-lined plate.
- Return skillet to heat and add 1 Tablespoon cooking oil. When oil begins to shimmer, add asparagus. Saute until bright green and nearly tender, 3 to 5 minutes.
- Pour sauce over asparagus and simmer until thickens slightly, 1 to 2 minutes more.
- Remove asparagus from heat and fold in tofu, cashews, and green onions.
- Serve stir-fry over cooked rice or noodles.
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