Tofu Stir Fry with Chili Sauce

Dear Caitlin:

Tofu does get a bad rap.  I’m also surprised by how often people think that it’s my sole source of protein as a vegetarian.  True fact:  I eat tofu like maybe five times a year.  I would venture to say that the most-consumed vegetarian food is, in fact, chick peas.  I find myself dumping cans of those gems in all sorts of meals where they don’t belong.

Having said that, the night you posted NO FEAR TOFU (as I’ve come to think of it), we ate tofu.  We must be on the same wavelength.

A few weeks ago, I found myself stuck inside an airport for a meal.  In dire circumstances, vegetarian airport food is a milkshake and fries.*  However, this happened to be a pretty decent sized airport, and there was a fast food place that had a tofu stir fry, which I took a chance on.

(* And by dire, I of course mean, “justification to eat a milkshake and fries for dinner?! SCORE!”  Top choice is a mint shake with curly fries, no judgment.)

It was crazy good.  The tofu was, of course, bland, but it was soaked in this astonishingly tasty sauce.  I couldn’t stop thinking about it the next day.  A little googling and a few adjustments later, I came up with this.


It’s a great meal to throw together at the end of a workday.  Since the sauce can be made ahead, it comes together quickly.  It’s also a great clean-out-the-fridge recipe, because you can sub the vegetables for pretty much anything that’s going to mold in the foreseeable future.

Check out the veggie goodness I was able to stuff into this:


I know.  There were leftovers for days.  Unfortunately, this led to my co-workers believing that, yes, finally, I was admitting that all vegetarians eat is tofu.  Totally worth it.


Sauce Ingredients
Modified from Sweet Chili Thai Sauce on AllRecipes.
1 Cup Water
1 Cup Rice Vinegar
1/2 Cup Agave Syrup (I’m sure you can sub sugar for this.  The original recipe calls for 1 cup, which I think would be way too much, but live and let live)
2 teaspoons Ginger, Grated
1 teaspoon Garlic, Minced
1 teaspoon Ground Red Pepper
2 teaspoons Tomato Paste
1/2 Tablespoon Corn Starch (Add more to thicken to taste)

Tofu Ingredients
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
1 Pound Extra-Firm Tofu, Drained
1 Pound Frozen Broccoli, Thawed
2 Cups Chopped Cabbage
8 ounces Baby Carrots
1 Cup Snap Peas


(1) Bring water and vinegar to a boil in a large sauce pan.

(2) Once water and vinegar boil, add agave, ginger, garlic, red pepper, and tomato paste.  Reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, for about five minutes.

(3) Combine corn starch with small amount of cold water.  Whisk to dissolve.  This will prevent clumping.

(4) Remove saucepan from heat and add corn starch.  Whisk thoroughly.  The sauce can be set aside and refrigerated until needed.  I’ve left it for a full 24 hours with good results.  Give it a good whisk when you’re ready to use it again.

(5) In a large frying pan, bring oil to high heat.  Add tofu and pan fry for about 3-4 minutes.

(6) Reduce heat to medium and add vegetables.  Cook to desired level of crunch.  I prefer my veggies on the raw side, which takes about 8 minutes.

(7) When vegetables are about two minutes from being done, add sauce.  Mix thoroughly.

(8) Serve over rice.  In the event all your bowls are dirty, use coffee mugs.  (I know.  Worst food blogger.  Ever.)


One thought on “Tofu Stir Fry with Chili Sauce

  1. Kaki, I made this tonight! I love a good stir-fry, and I’ve been meaning to add more sauces to my repertoire. Who knew that a whole cup of vinegar would cook up to such a lovely, punchy sauce?

    Just a couple of thoughts:

    -How thick did your sauce get once you’d added the corn starch slurry? Mine stayed more liquid than I’d expected. Maybe I didn’t let it cook down enough initially? Still tasty, though, as you well know!
    -Also, as we know my spice tolerance is a bit lower than yours, I added half of the ground cayenne (that is what you mean by ground red pepper, yes?) and it was just the right kick for my taste.
    -At the last minute I went, “Oh, I should add a dash or two of soy sauce!” Um, don’t do this. It seriously muddied the flavors of the sauce.
    -Finally, I usually press my tofu before stir-frying, but didn’t leave time for that tonight. I wish I had, as the tofu was just a little softer than I like. Oh well, now I know the pressing really does make a difference!

    I’m watching America’s Test Kitchen right now. They’re making a chocolate hazelnut dacquoise. Oh my word it is so complicated!! No thanks, I’ll let the professionals handle that one.


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