Sweet, savory, and ultimately satisfying. That is this szechuan tofu recipe in a nutshell. A thick, rich, and flavorful sauce surrounding crispy cubes of tasty tofu, possibly on a mound of sticky rice, silky noodles, or crunchy veggies. Are you drooling yet? If not, you should be!
In this article, you’ll learn the best way to sauté tofu so that it’s positively sizzles and creates the loveliest brown crust. Add to that a sweet, dark umami sauce that will knock your socks off. If you’ve never tried tofu szechuan style, you’re truly in for a treat!
Szechuan tofu, also known as Sichuan tofu or Schezwan tofu, is a classic and highly flavorful Chinese dish originating from the Sichuan province. It’s bold and spicy with cubed tofu simmered in a savory sauce.
The dish is similar too Mapo Tofu but there are some key differences. Mapo Tofu is made with silken tofu and minced meat, usually pork of beef. In this Szechuan style tofu, it’s completely vegetarian, allowing the tofu to shine. Firm tofu is used instead and stir-fried until crispy—perfect as a main dish served over steamed rice and served with stir-fried vegetables.
Even if you’re not a huge tofu fan, we’re convinced that this recipe will turn you around. There’s just so much to love about these crispy tofu cubes, you won’t be able to stop yourself from trying them.
It’s all about the tofu! Quality is top priority and we only used the best in this recipe.
Preparing this Szechuan tofu recipe is much easier than you think. Just three simple steps and you’ll have the most mouthwatering meal in a matter of minutes. While the tofu is cooking, you can get started on any sides. Make sure to remember the chopsticks!
Step One: Dry and cut the tofu into bite-sized pieces.
Step Two: Fry up the tofu cubes in vegetable oil for 6-7 minutes without moving. Flip over and cook for an additional 6-7 minutes until golden brown. While the tofu is browning, prepare the sauce.
Step Three: Place the finished tofu onto a side plate and simmer the sauce. Once the sauce is ready, add in the tofu and let simmer with the sauce for another couple of minutes. Time to enjoy!
The great thing about tofu is that it goes well with so many side dishes. Along with your szechuan tofu, choose one or two of these options to accompany your meal. A helpful rule-of-thumb is to have at least one or two raw elements along with your cooked meal. This gives your palate a few different textures to enjoy. Yum!
Sides like these give your tofu dish extra staying power and can make the meal go much farther for more people. Although you don’t have to stick with these traditional choices, they do taste the best with the tofu. Serve everything “family style” and plate out each of these for maximum fun.
There’s nothing like fresh, steamed, or roasted veggies to turn a simple meal into something special. Any or all of these vegetables will add extra flavor, texture, and nutrients to an already powerful protein-packed recipe. Yay!
Any leftover tofu can be placed in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3-4 days. It can easily be reheated in the microwave (a minute should do it) or by pan-frying with a little bit of oil (or extra sauce) for a couple of minutes until the desired temperature is reached. Freezing is not recommended.
This Szechuan sauce has a slightly sweet and spicy flavor with umami and garlic overtones. The texture of the sauce is usually thick and dark, from the cornstarch and soy sauce. Many commercial sauces contain honey, or other non-vegan ingredients so be careful if you’re using a pre-made sauce.
Definitely! Simply substitute the soy sauce for tamari or coconut aminos. Both tamari and coconut aminos are gluten-free.
You sure can! The best plan is to use a tofu press to press out all of the excess water first. This will give your tofu a firmer texture while also leaving more space for the marinade to soak into. Another option is to freeze your firm tofu overnight and then squeeze out the excess water the next day. This method also creates a more dense consistency in your tofu.
Many thanks to our amazing recipe testers Marilyn Vega and Andi Combs for testing this recipe! Process photos by Amanda McGillicuddy for World of Vegan, all rights reserved.