Crispy Pan-Fried Tofu With Soy-Scallion Sauce

August 16, 2022
2 Ratings
Photo by Julia Gartland
  • Prep time 15 minutes
  • Cook time 20 minutes
  • Serves 2-3
Author Notes

On busy weeknights growing up, pan-fried tofu was high on the list of easy throw-together dinners in my mom’s repertoire. The common Korean dish—slabs of firm seasoned tofu cooked in an oiled pan until golden, then topped with a chunky, scallion-heavy soy sauce—was one she could whip up in a matter of minutes. It wasn’t anything fancy or complicated, but when paired with freshly steamed rice, the savory, sauce-laden tofu made for a dependable, satisfying, and economical meal.

Inspired as much by Japanese agedashi tofu as the homey Korean pan-fried version, I chose to dust the tofu slices in cornstarch before frying them on the pan for a bit more crisp and contrast (land the fried tofu on a wire rack to retain their texture before serving, and hold off on coating the second batch of tofu until right before you cook them). Made from a handful of pantry ingredients, the salty, subtly spicy-and-sweet sauce is the star here, with every spoonful delivering just the “oomph” of flavor the blank canvas of tofu needs. Though it might initially seem like a lot of scallions, they quickly wilt when mixed into the sauce and become delicious vehicles of concentrated flavor (there’s something I love about the contrast of lightly crisp tofu and sauce-soaked scallions in each bite). To serve, slightly overlap the golden tofu slices like leaning dominos on a plate, generously spoon the gochugaru-spiked, sesame seed-flecked sauce on top, and dig in while they’re still fresh, with a bowl of rice on the side.
Joy Cho

What You'll Need
  • Pan-Fried Tofu
  • 1 14- ounces package firm tofu
  • Kosher salt
  • 1/3 cup cornstarch
  • Soy-Scallion Sauce
  • 2 tablespoons reduced-sodium soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon mirin
  • 1 teaspoon gochugaru
  • 1 teaspoon roasted white sesame seeds
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 1/2 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon rice vinegar
  • 3/4 cup thinly sliced scallions, from 3 to 4 scallions
  • Neutral oil, like canola or vegetable, for frying
  • Steamed rice, for serving
  1. Remove tofu from packaging, drain the liquid, and cut the block crosswise into 8 even slices, a little less than ½-inch thick. Lay the slices on a large paper towel-lined plate and thoroughly pat dry with paper towels, pressing to remove as much moisture as possible. Salt the tofu on both sides. Place the cornstarch in a shallow dish; set aside.
  2. Let the tofu rest while you prepare the sauce. In a medium bowl, mix together all the sauce ingredients until combined (the scallions will wilt as they sit). Adjust seasoning to taste.
  3. Pour enough oil into a large 12-inch nonstick skillet to fully coat the bottom of the pan (about 1/3 cup) and heat the oil over medium-high heat. Working quickly with one slice at a time, lightly coat half the slabs of tofu with cornstarch (gently tap to remove excess cornstarch) and carefully place them in the hot pan. Cook, flipping once, for 3 to 4 minutes on each side until crisp and golden.
  4. Transfer the fried tofu to a wire rack set over a baking sheet and repeat the dusting and cooking process with the remaining tofu slices, making sure to add enough oil to coat the bottom of the pan.
  5. Transfer the pan-fried tofu to a large plate or serving platter, slightly overlap the slices in two rows, and spoon the sauce on top (start with a few spoonfuls and add more to taste). Serve immediately with rice and remaining sauce on the side.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Cynthia Lall-Vicente
    Cynthia Lall-Vicente
  • Claudia

2 Reviews

Cynthia L. February 27, 2023
I just made this and it’s absolutely delicious! The best tofu dish I’ve ever made. I served it with brown rice and stir fried Bok Choy. I highly recommend this recipe. The sauce has so much flavor and the tofu is light and crispy. Thank you!!
Claudia August 22, 2022
This recipe is absolutely amazing! Our entire family of 8 gobbled this up (tripled the recipe), and already asked for it again!! It will be a menu staple from here on out!