Fried tofu with Peanut-Sesame Dipping Sauce

Have you ever tried to add tofu to a stir fry (or just about anything) and then been horribly disappointed in how crumbly or soggy and generally flavorless it came out? Enter me, to the rescue.

After two+ years as a vegetarian and countless lame attempts to replace chicken strips with crispy tofu in my recipes, I’ve finally hit on the best way to cook the soy stuff so that it looks like it came out of a takeout bag and not, umm, my toilet.

I used my go-to peanut sauce as a dipper here to supplement some Thai leftovers. Yum!

note to self: keep up your manicure when your hands are going to be on the blog.


  • 1 package extra firm tofu (16 oz.)
  • 4 TBSP peanut butter (I mix creamy and chunky)
  • 2 teaspoons sesame oil
  • 1 teaspoon cider vinegar (can add 1 more to taste)
  • juice 1 lime
  • 1 teaspoon soy sauce
  • 1 minced garlic clove
  • brown sugar to taste (give or take 1 TBSP)
  • optional: crumbled cashew (I had some lying around)
The trick to making tofu hang together is to dry it out for a few minutes before cooking with it. To do this, you simply chop the tofu — I like to make diagonal shapes, like you see in restaurants — and then drain it between several layers of paper towels.
I put a plastic cutting board on the counter, top it with 4 or 5 paper towels, then the tofu, then more paper towels and finally a baking sheet weighted down by a nice heavy pot. Let set for 10-15 minutes (you can make your sauce, or a marinade of your choosing, in the meantime).
To make the sauce, melt all ingredients except cashews together in the microwave; stir and adjust to taste. Top with crushed cashews if desired. (I smash mine in a paper bag with a meat mallet).
To try the tofu, use a non-stick pan — NO OIL, that’s very key — and heat over medium to warm the skillet.
Working in batches if necessary, fry the tofu until browned, flattening down with a spatula as needed and flipping once so both sides are cooked. When they’re firm and golden-brown on both sides, they are done.
Just-fried tofu soaks up marinade very well, so if you are planning to marinate it in something like soy sauce with garlic and onions, do it right away. Otherwise, toss this into a stir fry with fresh veggies or just snack on it with my peanut-sesame dip!
Cooked tofu can be stored in a plastic bag or resealable tupperware container just like any other leftovers. So cook up a big batch & save some for later!

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