Fry

Crispy Tofu With Maple-Dijon Glaze

May  4, 2021
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Photo by Julia Gartland Prop Stylist:Veronica Olson Food Stylist: Anna Billingskog
Author Notes

When it comes to making crispy tofu, there is not one way to do it. You can deep-fry, oven-dry, coat it in starch or flour or bread crumbs. You can glaze for something sticky-sweet or leave it nude and crunchy. You can use any number of oils. I will not say this is the way to make crispy tofu, but it is a way (and a pretty tasty one at that!).

Baked tofu is wonderful in the right moments, and you can certainly get busy with several inches of oil, but when I’m looking for crispy tofu, I pan-fry. Specifically, in unrefined coconut oil, which lends a subtly coconutty flavor to the end result (of course, if you don’t like that flavor, use refined coconut or another vegetable oil). Because tofu is packed in water, and moisture is the enemy of crispiness, to get the crispiest possible tofu, you’ll need to draw out as much water as you can first. Use a tofu press if you have one, but slicing the tofu into planks or squares, wrapping in a layer of kitchen towels, and pressing down on them with a heavy skillet or cookbook will certainly suffice. Leave it alone for at least 10 minutes, but preferably as much time as you can give it.

Speaking of being left alone, crispy tofu will only really get crispy if you let it do its thing in the pan, without nudging it around too much. Once you’ve placed the tofu in the pan and swirled it around to ensure the pieces aren’t sticking to each other, leave it alone to crisp on the first side for a full 3 minutes before checking out the bottom. Once you’ve pan-fried the tofu, you can toss it with your favorite sauce with noodles or grains and vegetables, or you can make the accompanying spicy-sweet mustard and maple syrup glaze.
Rebecca Firkser

  • Prep time 15 minutes
  • Cook time 10 minutes
  • Serves 2 to 3
Ingredients
  • Crispy Tofu
  • 1 (14-ounce) block extra-firm tofu, drained and patted dry
  • 1/4 cup unrefined coconut oil (or refined coconut, vegetable, canola, or safflower oil)
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Maple-Dijon Glaze (see recipe below, optional)
  • Cooked mixed grains, such as rice, rainbow quinoa, or farro, for serving (optional)
  • Maple-Dijon Glaze (optional)
  • 3 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoons distilled white (or white wine or apple cider) vinegar
  • Pinch kosher salt
In This Recipe
Directions
  1. Crispy Tofu
  2. Slice the tofu in half lengthwise, then into 5 pieces crosswise (for a total of 10 pieces). Transfer the tofu pieces to a sheet pan lined with paper towels or a clean kitchen towel. Cover the tofu with another layer of paper towels or kitchen towel and place a heavy skillet or book on top—this will help the tofu get very dry, and ultimately more crispy. Let it sit for at least 10 minutes, or up to overnight.
  3. Heat the oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium to medium-high heat for about 3 minutes. Carefully place the dry tofu pieces into the skillet and cook, undisturbed, for about 3 to 4 minutes per side, until golden and crisp (increase or decrease the heat based on how crispy and brown the first side looks).
  4. While the tofu is cooking, remove the damp towels from the sheet pan and place a rack over it (or line with more paper towels if you don’t have a rack). Transfer the cooked tofu to the rack and immediately shower with salt and pepper. Serve with the Maple-Dijon Glaze and grains, or whichever way you like to eat crispy tofu. Strain whatever leftover oil you have through a fine mesh sieve and save it for other sautéing or frying.
  1. Maple-Dijon Glaze (optional)
  2. Whisk together all the ingredients in a small bowl.
  3. Reduce the heat to medium. Scrape the glaze into the same skillet and cook until the mixture comes to a simmer, about 3 minutes, then reduce the heat to medium-low.
  4. Return the tofu to the skillet and cook, basting the tofu with the glaze occasionally, until the glaze has thickened and all the tofu is coated, about 3 to 4 minutes. Serve immediately, with grains, if desired.

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Rebecca Firkser is the assigning editor at Food52. She used to wear many hats in the food media world: food writer, editor, assistant food stylist, recipe tester (sometimes in the F52 test kitchen!), recipe developer. Her writing has appeared in TASTE, The Strategist, Eater, and Bon Appetit's Healthyish and Basically. She contributed recipes and words to the book "Breakfast: The Most Important Book About the Best Meal of the Day." Once upon a time, she studied theatre design and art history at Smith College, so if you need a last-minute avocado costume or want to talk about Wayne Thiebaud's cakes, she's your girl. She tests all recipes with Diamond Crystal kosher salt. You can follow her on Instagram @rebeccafirkser.

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