5 Recipes For Enjoying Tofu the Crispy Way

Tofu lasts for months, is affordable, and is so versatile — especially when it comes to crisping it up.

FNK_TheBestCrispyTofu_H

FNK_TheBestCrispyTofu_H

Food Network Kitchen’s The Best Crispy Tofu, as seen on Food Network.

Photo by: Renee Comet

Renee Comet

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Until recently, tofu wasn’t part of my weekly diet. That changed when I was recently loading up my grocery cart with cans of beans and grains, and I noticed a well-stocked section of tofu.

I turned over a container and noticed two key pieces of information. First, the 14 ounce package was just $2. Talk about budget-friendly. Second, the sell-by date was three whole months in the future. There were also freezing instructions on the back (I had no idea you could freeze tofu). After doing a little research about freezing tofu, I learned that frozen, thawed tofu changes texture in a good way: it absorbs more sauce (i.e. flavor) and takes on a chewier, meatier texture.

A healthy, long-lasting. inexpensive (plant-based!) protein is something that belongs in my household right now — and I think it deserves a spot in yours, too, if it isn’t there already.

As a tofu newbie, I was drawn to all the recipes for crispy tofu — and totally fell in love. I’ve noticed that many recipes start with firm or extra-firm tofu, which you can sear like a big slab of meat, then toss in a sauce so flavorful that all your taste buds sing and dance. The greatest part? The tofu remains crispy, despite the fact that it’s soaked up so much sauce. Below, some of my favorite recipes to whet your appetite.

The first tenant of crispy tofu? Eliminate as much water as possible by wrapping it in a dish towel and pressing it under something heavy like a cast iron skillet. The second? Don’t move it around while it cooks in the pan. This recipe incorporates both of those techniques, plus a coating of panko bread crumbs for extremely crispy results. Right before serving, drizzle over a sticky sauce made from soy sauce, lime juice, agave syrup, scallion whites and sriracha.

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20130304_FoodNetwork_Miller_S08_0135.tif

Photo by: Johnny Miller

Johnny Miller

Cornstarch is another secret ingredient to have in your crispy tofu toolkit. Unsurprisingly, the reason harkens back to moisture. Toss tofu in cornstarch, and the cornstarch will soak up all of the moisture on the surface. No moisture = maximum crispiness.

Crispy Szechuan-style eggplant and tofu, as seen on Food Network Kitchen Live.

Photo by: Kerri Brewer

Kerri Brewer

Quick PSA: there are a lot of different varieties of tofu. But for crispy tofu, opt for firm or extra-firm, which will hold up to pressing and pan-frying. This version leans on cornstarch for crispness and incorporates cubed eggplant too, which caramelizes and develops lovely umami flavor as it browns.

Photo by: Heather Ramsdell ©Food Network 2016

Heather Ramsdell, Food Network 2016

If you don’t feel like standing over a skillet and searing your tofu, this hands-off recipe is for you. A 400 degrees F oven blasts breaded tofu planks to crispy perfection, while sweet and spicy sauce and sesame-scented spinach cook at the same time.

Weeknight Cooking

Weeknight Cooking

Photo by: RYAN DAUSCH

RYAN DAUSCH

When in doubt, give tofu the fried chicken treatment. Need we say more?

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