This Hot and Sour tofu makes for a great spicy, tangy, vegan dinner option. It’s quick to make and best served over steamed rice or noodles.
I’d recently been sharing some of my tofu dinners on my stories on Instagram. And I was quite taken back and just how many requests came through for this recipe.
It was very much a quick dinner using the things I had on hand (my fridge is never without several blocks of tofu). I’d been craving something spicy and something sour all day, so I made up a sauce as I went along.
It was one of those taste as you go kind of sauces, and it was absolutely delicious. So much so that I had to share this recipe up as it’s become a fairly regular dish that’s currently on repeat over here.
Hot and Sour Tofu
This is one spicy tofu dish, but it’s also got an edge of acidity which makes it totally addictive. There’s heaps of flavour within a surprisingly simple sauce, making it perfect for a quick lunch or dinner.
I promise you guys, this is a better than takeout recipe and sauce. You can use this sauce on any protein or vegetables you like, you can even make it in advance and keep it refrigerated.
It has a different flavour profile from the well known hot and sour soup, but it’s equally delicious. If you’re a fan of hot and sour soup you’ll definitely enjoy hot and sour tofu!
Think sweet and sour tofu, but spicy
Sweet and sour dishes have always been popular in Chinese restaurants and takeout spots. But I’ve never been a huge fan, largely because I’m more into spicy than sweet.
So naturally when making sweet and sour dishes, I’d end up throwing in a couple of chillies, or a spoon of chilli sauce. And I’d also end up toning down the sweetness. So sweet and sour tofu ended up becoming hot and sour tofu, no regrets.
The spice level can be adapted to your taste, so fear not. I’ll explain in the recipe below.
This makes for an epic vegan or vegetarian dinner
It’s a quick and easy meal that’s also versatile. It makes for a filling meal once paired with some type of carbohydrate. Making it perfect for a great vegetarian or vegan lunch/dinner.
I often get messages from non vegans/non vegetarians asking what they can make when they do have veggie/vegan friends over. This is definitely one I’d recommend.
If you don’t like tofu, I didn’t either (at first) but now I love it
It’s true, the first few times I cooked with tofu I was not a fan. It was bland with a very unidimensional texture, that honestly did nothing for me. I actually didn’t pick up tofu for another 4 or 5 months.
But I’m genuinely so glad that I pursued and gave it another go. Once I moved to university I was fortunate to have a small supermarket next to me selling fresh tofu every morning. I got used to cooking with it and started making it 2-3 times a week.
I now love it and eat tofu regularly. There’s a lot you can do to it texturally, such as coating in starch and pan frying/air frying. And it does pick up flavour if you marinate it or add to a flavourful sauce.
Hot and Sour Tofu serving suggestions
I recommend serving this tofu with some steamed rice, my personal favourite is jasmine rice. You can also serve it alongside some noodles too. A simple vegetable stir fry would be great.
I’ve also recently started adding a side of kimchi to this along with the jasmine rice and it is so good. I’d definitely recommend that combination!
If you love tofu, then I may have a few other recipes you’d like
- Ginger and Spring Onion Tofu – a stir fried tofu dish filled with spring onions/scallions and ginger. It’s also a very quick dish to make
- Spicy Basil Tofu Puffs – spicy stir fried tofu puffs with a Thai inspired sauce and Thai basil
- Salt and Pepper Tofu – crispy tofu tossed in onions, chillies, garlic, and my favourite salt and pepper spice mix (recipe included for the spice mix)
What you’ll need to make Hot and Sour Tofu
I’ll cover the main ones below but the full recipe can be found at the end of the blogpost
- Tofu – I’d recommend using a medium firm to firm tofu. Extra firm would work too but I find it a bit too tough and dry so I hardly ever use it
- Chilli sauce – for this recipe I find sriracha or gochujang works the best. But you could also use your favourite chilli sauce if you wanted to
- Rice vinegar – this is a vinegar made from fermented rice. It’s less acidic than generic white vinegar with a very subtle background sweetness
- Mushroom sauce – this is a vegetarian substitute for oyster sauce and can be found at East Asian supermarkets. It’s a thick sauce that has a salty, umami-rich flavour. It’s very savoury but also has a faint background note of sweetness. It’s one of my most used sauces
- 5 spice – this is a Chinese spice mix that contains 5 different spices, normally star anise, fennel, cinnamon, clove, and pepper (usually Sichuan). We only need a pinch for this recipe as it adds another layer of spiced flavour, so if you don’t have this spice mix, feel free to leave it out
- Cornflour – this is sold as cornflour in the UK but it’s called corn starch in the US
The KEY TIPS to getting this recipe right
- Add more vinegar at the end of the recipe – I’ve included this step in the recipe as it adds the final layer of acidity. There’s some rice vinegar added earlier but part of that cooks out, so it’s worth adding more at the end to bring that sharpness back
- Coat the tofu in cornflour or rice flour – we do this prior to pan frying the tofu to create a crispy outer coating
- Cook in a wok if you have one – if you have a seasoned carbon steel wok, definitely use it here. It imparts ‘wok hei’ which is the flavour that you find in restaurant and takeout dishes. If you often feel your homecooked versions lack a certain flavour, it’s most likely the wok hei
How to make Hot and Sour Tofu
How to make a Hot and Sour Sauce
1) This hot and sour sauce is honestly so easy to make. Just add the chilli sauce/paste (I like to use gochujang or sriracha) to a jug along with ketchup, mushroom sauce, light soy sauce, rice vinegar, water, 5 spice, white pepper, cornflour (corn starch for US readers), and salt
2) Whisk it till smooth and then that’s it, that’s your hot and sour sauce
Let’s make Hot and Sour Tofu
1) Chop the tofu into bite sized cubes
2) Toss the tofu in cornflour (corn starch for US readers) or rice flour. I don’t press out the water from the tofu as it helps the starches to stick
3) Pan fry the coated tofu in a frying pan in 2-3tbsp of oil until golden and crispy like 4)
5) Add onions and garlic to a wok or frying pan. I like to use a wok as it provides more flavour (wok hei)
6) Sauté the onions and garlic briefly over a high heat. This is a quick cooking process so it’s worth having everything ready next to you (mise en place)
7) Next add in the vegetables, I like to use a mixture of baby corn, red pepper, and mangetout. Continue to sauté these over a high heat for around a minute
8) Pour in all of the hot and sour sauce
9) The sauce will thicken within 20-30 seconds, it doesn’t take long at all
10) Then add in all of the crispy tofu
11) Toss to combine so everything is equally coated in the sauce. It’s honestly a very quick cooking process
12) With the heat turned off, finish the hot and sour tofu with a little bit of rice vinegar and a gentle drizzle of toasted sesame oil. You can also top with some sesame seeds too if you wish
Frequently asked questions
Is this Hot and Sour Tofu vegan?
Yes, it’s already vegan so it’s perfect for anyone following a vegetarian or vegan diet.
How long can this tofu be kept? What’s the best way to store it?
It’s honestly best eaten on the day it’s made. If you have leftovers, place it into an airtight container and keep refrigerated for up to 3 days. The batter on the outside of the tofu will go soggy though, that’s unfortunately unavoidable.
If you enjoyed this recipe
Please do let me know! Leave a review and a rating below, I’d love to know how you got on.
Until then, happy cooking!
- 400g firm or extra firm tofu
- 125g rice flour/cornflour (this is corn starch for US readers)
- 5tbsp Neutral oil for pan frying, e.g. vegetable, rapeseed, sunflower
For the sauce:
- 3tbsp of sriracha or gochujang
- 2tbsp ketchup
- 2tbsp mushroom sauce, or vegetarian oyster sauce alternative
- 2tbsp light soy sauce
- 2tbsp rice vinegar
- 2tbsp water
- 1/4tsp 5 spice
- 1/4tsp white pepper
- 1/2tsp cornflour, this is corn starch for US readers
Vegetables and aromatics:
- 4 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1 white onion, cut into chunks
- 1 red pepper, cut into chunks
- 175g baby corn
- 75g mangetout
- 1tbsp rice vinegar
- 2tsp toasted sesame oil
- Start by making the sauce, which is incredibly easy, Simply whisk together all the sauce ingredients in a bowl or jug and then set aside. The sauce can also be prepared in advance and refrigerated until required
- Next, lightly pat the tofu with a paper towel and chop into bite sized pieces. I don't normally press out the water from the tofu as I find the moisture helps the starch to stick better. I also find that tofu dries out quite easily once pressed, we want to keep it soft inside
- Toss the tofu pieces in the rice flour or cornflour/corn starch until they're all covered with a light coating. This will help to get the tofu extra crispy and golden
- Heat a wide frying pan over a medium heat with around 2-3tbsp of oil and pan fry the tofu until golden and crispy on all sides. Then set the tofu aside on a plate lined with a paper towel
- Heat up a wok or a frying pan over a high heat and add in 2tbsp of oil followed by the onions and garlic. Sauté for around a minute before adding in the red pepper, baby corn, and mangetout (or any vegetables you like). As this is a very quick cooking process, it's worth having everything chopped and ready next to you (mise en place)
- Cook the vegetables for around another minute, then add in all of the sauce and mix continuously. The sauce will begin to thicken within 20-30 seconds
- Next add in the tofu and toss once more to ensure everything is coated evenly in the hot and sour sauce. Everything should be coated with the thick sauce which will also have a lovely glaze to it
- Finally turn the heat off and add in the final tbsp of rice vinegar as well as the sesame oil. Optionally garnish with sesame seeds too if you wish
- Best served with steamed jasmine rice or any noodles of choice. I also like to pair it with a side of kimchi
Nutrition InformationYield 4 Serving Size 1
Amount Per Serving Calories 485Total Fat 27gSaturated Fat 3gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 22gCholesterol 2mgSodium 1319mgCarbohydrates 49gFiber 6gSugar 12gProtein 16g
This is an automated calculation and hence may not be entirely accurate