Crispy Southern Fried Tofu

Crispy Southern Fried Tofu

(Becky, the Butter Lovin’ Mama)

When Rachel and I pitched our new book we described it as Alicia Silverstone meets Paula Deen.   This fried tofu recipe is the perfect mingling of a young vegan chef with an older southern cookin’ mama.

Say the word “tofu” to non-vegans and vegetarians and wait to see how quickly they respond with some form of the words “yuck,” “spongy,” or “blah.”

What I’ve discovered about tofu is that it is indeed “yucky, spongy and blah” until you cook it correctly.  I now love and often prefer it to meat, as long as it is sautéed or baked in a coating until caramelized, or…. fried. Let’s be honest:  frying is not the healthiest method of cooking anything. However, as a treat, it is one of the tastiest ways to cook anything.

My 5 year old  grandson Georgie is staying with us this week,  and had never experienced  Kentucky Fried Chicken. He laughed and laughed when I told him we were going to get “chicken in a bucket” for dinner.  (At the end of a week with a five year old, this Nonny was losing touch with her normal cooking groove.  Lack of sleep and  uninterrupted thoughts will do this to a person, as adorable as he may be!)   But one taste of KFC chicken leg and he started humming happy “mmm…mmmm…MMM’s” and saying things like, “I can’t stop eating this!” and “This is the best chicken I ever had.”  He had three pieces before he finally paused to lick every finger on his hands.

Georgie chowing down on his first piece of southern fried chicken, Colonel Sanders style

Granted, a roast chicken is much healthier, but now and again, there’s just nothing like a good ol’ southern friend chicken.  Or tofu.

Rachel and I were together in Phoenix  this past fall, when we both ordered the crispy tofu and noodles dish at an Asian restaurant.  When we took a bite of the tofu and it actually went “crunch,” it was a revelation.  Tofu can crunch?  Not only that, but the inside of the crunchy coating was a pillow of silken perfection.   I had to duplicate it. This recipe below turned out at least as good as that lovely crunchy tofu in Phoenix.  It’s a wonderful “gateway recipe” to get people who are afraid of tofu to give it a try.

Becky’s Southern Fried Tofu

Serves 2 to 3


1/2 block tofu, diced in squares about the size of a dice (little more than 1/2 inch squares)

1/4 c. teriyaki sauce

1 t. sesame oil

1 T. thai chili sauce

canola or coconut oil for frying

1/2 c. cornstarch

1/2 t. sea salt

/3 c. toasted sesame seeds

More teriyaki and chili sauce for coating and dipping, if desired (to personal taste)

2 slices fresh lime

1/4 c. chopped green onion


Fill a medium sized  sauce pot with oil until it is one and one half to two inches deep. Heat oil at medium high. (Or use a fryer.)

Use medium saucepan filled 1 1/2 to 2 inches with oil

Mix teriyaki sauce, sesame oil and chili sauce in a shallow bowl.  Use a spoon to toss and coat the pieces of tofu lightly.

Next, toss the tofu  in a shallow bowl of cornstarch mixed with 1/2 t.  salt.

Tofu marinated, tossed in cornstarch. After frying you will roll in the bowl of sesame seeds.

Carefully place tofu in small batches  in sauce pan or fryer. Using a heat proof slotted spoon, turn the tofu until it is golden brown on all sides and remove with the same spoon (tapping to drain off oil) to a shallow bowl with sesame seeds.   Gently toss the tofu in sesame seeds.  Taste and if needed sprinkle with a very light dusting of sea salt.

Can use as an appetizer just like this, or coated in a bit more teriyaki sauce with a side of edamame.

Variation: Delicious also served with a variety of Asian sauces (such as teriyaki, black bean, hoisin, low sodium soy, Thai Sweet Chili sauce,  plum sauce, hot chili sauce , lime, sesame oil, grated ginger), chopped green onions, and served with a slice of lime over a bowl of rice and steamed veggies.  A sprinkle of chopped peanuts and chopped cilantro is wonderful with this dish as well.

Southern Fried Tofu

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