This Ginger Sesame Tofu Stir Fry is coated in a deliciously sticky sauce – plus, I'll show you the secret to getting that perfect crispy tofu!
How to make this recipe
Get all the prep work done out of the way: Drain the excess water out of the tofu block, cook rice in a rice cooker or pot on the stove, and mix ingredients for stir fry sauce together in a small bowl.
Once water is drained from the tofu, cut block into cubes. Carefully toss tofu with cornstarch in a large bowl.
Heat the canola oil in a large skillet over med-high heat. Add tofu pieces in a large layer, seasoning with salt & pepper. Cook until browned on all sides, then transfer to a dish.
If needed, add more canola oil to the skillet and then stir fry onion, zucchini and red pepper over high heat until veggies are tender, seasoning with salt & pepper.
Add tofu back to skillet, then add in sauce and low heat to medium, sautéing until sauce thickens.
Remove from heat, then serve tofu and veggies over rice. Serve with a garnish of green onions and sesame seeds and enjoy!
Ingredients and substitutions
- Canola oil – other oils that would be great for stir frying the tofu are vegetable oil, safflower oil or grapeseed oil.
- Extra-firm tofu – to keep this dish plant-based, replace the tofu with tempeh. Otherwise, chicken or beef can also be used in this recipe.
- Cornstarch – potato starch, regular flour or gluten-free flour can also be used to coat the tofu.
- Salt & pepper (to taste)
- Yellow onion – red onion, shallots, white onions are all great substitutes for yellow onion.
- Zucchini – if you’re not a fan of zucchini, feel free to leave it out entirely and replace it with any veggie of your choice!
- Red pepper – any bell pepper colour can be used in this recipe.
- Green onions (to garnish)
- Sesame seeds (to garnish)
Stir fry sauce
- Soy sauce – tamari or coconut aminos are great alternatives to soy sauce
- Hoisin sauce – teriyaki sauce, bean paste or kecap manis (sweet soy sauce) can be used in place of hoisin sauce
- Sesame oil – avocado oil, perilla oil or olive oil are great alternatives but won’t give the same flavour palette that sesame oil does.
- Garlic – fresh or jarred minced garlic
- Ginger – fresh grated ginger or ginger powder
- White rice – use a white rice of your choice like basmati or jasmine rice. You can also use brown rice but this will slightly alter the cooking instructions.
- Butter – optional ingredient to enhance fluffiness of rice.
- Salt (to taste)
Getting crispy tofu
Tofu often gets a bad reputation but it's a great protein-packed ingredient for plant-based recipes. Tofu is stored in packaging that has water in it to help keep its shape and texture. This is because tofu contains water, so the lack of water in its packaging could accelerate the drying out of the ingredient.
That being said, when you're looking to make crispy tofu it is very important to drain the tofu of its water. The best way to do this is to keep the tofu in between two kitchen towels with a heavy object (like a textbook) on top. After you've made sure all the liquid is squeezed out of the tofu, coat the pieces in cornstarch. This is the best way to create a coating around the tofu for the crispy texture.
If you don't have cornstarch on hand, you can also use regular flour or potato starch to create a similar coating.
What type of tofu is best for stir fry?
Tofu is sold in a few different textures such as soft, medium, extra-firm, etc. The softer the tofu is, the more water content it has. If you are curious about tofu here is a quick overview of some of the different tofu textures:
- Soft tofu: a silken-style tofu that is great in desserts and smoothies.
- Medium tofu: usually found in soups (ex: miso soup) and holds flavour well but is too delicate for stir fry.
- Firm tofu: absorbs flavours well for stir-frying and pan-frying but is still soft enough to be crumbled.
- Extra-firm tofu: this tofu is the go-to choice for slicing, cubing, stir-frying, and pan-frying because of its ability to hold its shape.
If you're wondering which tofu to use for this recipe, extra-firm tofu is the best option. Once you've drained it of its water and coated it in the cornstarch, the extra firm tofu will keep its shape and won't crumble while you are frying it!
Storing and reheating
As always, this stir fry is a great meal prep dish! Store your leftovers in glass air-tight containers in the fridge for up to five days. You can choose to store the leftovers in one large air-tight container or in individual servings with the rice in many smaller air-tight containers.
When you're ready to enjoy the dish, reheat it in a skillet for the best results. This is because it will ensure that the crispy tofu remains crispy. Otherwise, if you're in a rush, warming the leftovers in the microwave for 1-2 minutes will also work. Tip: sprinkle some water over the rice before microwaving to make sure it doesn't dry out.
Can you freeze this stir fry?
Unfortunately this dish is not a freezer-friendly recipe. Freezing this dish isn't recommended because the veggies would get very soggy during the reheating process and the tofu just wouldn't be the same.
More stir fry recipes
- Easiest ground turkey stir fry
- Bibimbap-inspired beef stir fry
- Beef stir fry + 2-ingredient sauce recipe
Meal prep tools for this recipe
- Grab some glass meal prep bowls if you plan on turning this pasta into leftovers
- Freeze this recipe in glass microwave-safe bowls up to 3 months
- Order some coconut aminos if you're looking for an alternative to soy sauce
Ginger Sesame Tofu Stir Fry
- 2 tbsp canola oil
- 1 package extra-firm tofu
- 2 tbsp cornstarch
- salt & pepper, to taste
- 1 yellow onion, chopped
- 1 zucchini, chopped
- 1 red pepper, chopped
- 4 green onions, sliced
- Sesame seeds, for garnish
Stir fry sauce
- 2 tbsp soy sauce
- 2 tbsp hoisin sauce
- 1 tbsp sesame oil
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tsp ginger, minced
- 2 cups water
- 1 cup white rice
- 1 tsp butter
- 1 pinch salt
- Add block of tofu to a large plate in between two clean kitchen towels. Add a heavy object such as a large textbook over tofu to squeeze out as much liquid as possible.
- Meanwhile, mix all ingredients under stir fry sauce heading together in a small bowl and set aside.
- Add all ingredients under rice heading to a rice cooker or pot on the stove and cook until cooked through, about 20 minutes.
- Take tofu and cut into 1-inch cubes. Carefully toss with cornstarch in a large bowl, and start heating the canola oil in a large skillet over med-high heat. Add tofu pieces in a large layer, seasoning with salt & pepper. Cook until browned on all sides, about 5 minutes, then remove from heat and transfer to a paper-towel lined plate.
- Add a touch more canola oil to the skillet, then stir fry onion, zucchini and red pepper over high heat until veggies are tender, seasoning with salt & pepper. Add tofu back to skillet, then add in sauce and low heat to medium, cooking another 2 minutes until sauce thickens.
- Remove from heat, then serve over rice and garnish with green onions and sesame seeds. Serve and enjoy!