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Pan Fried Tofu (With Garlic Soy Sauce)

A simple recipe of pan fried tofu drizzled with a spicy-sweet sauce (made from garlic, soy sauce, sesame oil, honey, and chili flakes). Easy and made with local pantry staples.

The final dish!

Ok, tofu! We love tofu in Hawaii. It’s funny how tofu gets associated only with vegetarian/healthy foods on the mainland. In Hawaii (and most of Asia), tofu is amazing, exciting, and one of our favorite things to eat.

Pan Fried Tofu (With Garlic Soy Sauce)

If you’re looking for simple tofu recipes, add this recipe to the top of your list. I make this pan fried tofu often, either as a simple lunch for myself (I’ve always worked from home, so preparing “home lunch” is a daily activity) or as part of a larger dinner. 

This dish is made of two parts:

  • Firm tofu – just slice it in square, and pan fry on both sides
  • Soy sauce-based sauce – Just mix a few key pantry ingredients together (details below), and drizzle over the pan fried tofu. 

It really is that simple! This is great hot from the pan, and just as good at room temperature. It’s a pretty common dish in Hawaii (not really found at restaurants, but many families make it at home). Local style home cooking in Hawaii often has a strong Asian element, and this dish is a good example of that. 

Right before we drizzle the garlic soy sauce on top of the tofu.

Tofu in Hawaii

Tofu is an ingredient that we love and use proudly in Hawaii. We have local tofu factories that make everything from fresh tofu, to fried tofu (for aburaage), and fresh soymilk (sooo onolicious!!!)

We can get tofu poke at all the supermarkets (though I like to make it at home). And of course, we really love almond tofu float for dessert. Tofu is amazing and Hawaii does it justice.

Step 3 of the recipe. The magic is in the sauce!

The Sauce

Fyi, I’ve included affiliate links below. I may earn a small commission (at no cost to you), if you purchase through the links.

The sauce is what really makes this dish. It’s savory, sweet, and a bit spicy! This sauce is a mixture of soy saucehoney, toasted sesame oil, garlic, green onions, chili flakes, and toasted sesame seeds. It’s a great, all purpose sauce (I even drizzle this on pan fried chicken thighs).

For the recipe below, I like to pour the full portion of the sauce over the tofu, but my parents just like to use part of the sauce. Feel free to use as much or as little as you want. If you’re really into garlic (aka my whole family), feel free to double or even triple the amount of minced garlic.

Substitutions 

This is a fairly flexible recipe, and there are a number of substitutions you can make:

  • Replace regular chili flakes with Gochugaru (Korean red chili pepper flakes). Because everything is so Asian in Hawaii, we actually use Korean red chili pepper flakes more often than “regular” (Italian) chili pepper flakes. Either will work great. 
  • No honey? No problem. Replace the honey with white sugar.
  • Don’t want to pan fry the tofu? Feel free to steam the tofu (slice and steam 6-8 minutes, drain the water before drizzling on the sauce) or even bake the tofu (slice and place on a greased baking sheet, bake at 400F, 15 minute on each side). You’ll miss out on that golden, crispy texture, but it will still be a great dish. 

How To Eat This Dish

So it’s just a plate of fried tofu and sauce. How do you eat it? So many ways:

  • You can eat it with a bowl of rice for a complete meal (my preferred method).
  • It can be part of a larger dinner, perhaps as a side to Shoyu Chicken.
  • Because this dish can be prepared in advanced and eaten at room temperature, it can serve as an easy after school snack. My grandma used to prepare a version of this for our after school treat, a little snack before dinner. Grandma’s version uses fish sauce, maybe I can get her to share the recipe one day ^_^

Step 2 of the recipe. Pan fry both sides of the firm tofu till golden brown.

How To Make Pan Fried Tofu (With Garlic Soy Sauce)

These are the ingredients you’ll need:

The finished dish! Eat hot or at room temperature…both ways are onolicious.

Here are the steps:

  1. Drain and pat dry the tofu. Cut the tofu in half lengthwise. Cut each half into ten pieces. You should have 20 small squares total.
  2. Heat pan to medium heat. Add a tablespoon of oil, swirl around to coat the pan. Place all 20 pieces in the pan and turn the heat down to low. Cook for 6-8 minutes, then flip and cook the other side for 6-8 minutes. You want both sides of the tofu to be golden brown.
  3. While the tofu is cooking, make the sauce. In a small bowl, mix together the soy sauce, honey, sesame oil, garlic, half the green onions, and chili flakes.
  4. Arrange the finished tofu on a plate, and drizzle the sauce over. Sprinkle the remaining green onions and toasted sesame seeds on top.

Notes: You don’t have to use all the sauce – drizzle on as little or as much as you desire. I like it with more sauce, while my parents prefer less sauce.

Recipe below ^_^

Pan Fried Tofu (With Garlic Soy Sauce)

Pan Fried Tofu (With Garlic Soy Sauce)

Yield: 20 pieces tofu
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes

This dish makes for an easy lunch/dinner. Just pan fry the tofu, mix together the sauce, and drizzle on top! Simple and full of flavor. Also really good with rice 🙂

Instructions

    1. Drain and pat dry the tofu. Cut the tofu in half lengthwise. Cut each half into ten pieces. You should have 20 small squares total.
    2. Heat pan to medium heat. Add a tablespoon of oil, swirl around to coat the pan. Place all 20 pieces in the pan and turn the heat down to low. Cook for 6-8 minutes, then flip and cook the other side for 6-8 minutes. You want both sides of the tofu to be golden brown.
    3. While the tofu is cooking, make the sauce. In a small bowl, mix together the soy sauce, honey, sesame oil, garlic, half the green onions, and chili flakes.
    4. Arrange the finished tofu on a plate, and drizzle the sauce over. Sprinkle the remaining green onions and toasted sesame seeds on top. Enjoy! Amazing hot and just as good at room temperature.

Notes

You don't have to use all the sauce - drizzle on as little or as much as you desire. I like it with more sauce, while my parents prefer less sauce.

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