Try this delicious scallion tofu recipe: crispy pan-fried tofu braised in a sauce that is rich in scallion aroma and umami flavor. Quick, vegan, and irresistibly tasty!
What is scallion tofu
Today’s dish Scallion Tofu (葱烧豆腐) combines two food items that I always have in my fridge. I’ve shared quite a few recipes in which these two common ingredients shine. Think Scallion Pancakes, Scallion Ginger Salmon, Mapo Tofu, Garlic Sauce Tofu, etc.
Tofu pieces are firstly pan-fried in a little oil until golden and crispy, then braised in a sauce flavored by a generous amount of scallions, soy sauce and thickened with a starch slurry.
Why try this recipe? Here are some good reasons:
- The ingredient list is short.
- It’s quick and simple to make.
- It’s vegan and incredibly tasty.
Which type of tofu
For this recipe, I use firm tofu known as Lao Dou Fu/老豆腐, Bei Dou Fu/北豆腐, etc. It has a slightly stronger soybean taste (tofu taste) and contains less water than the soft version. It withstands handling better so it’s less likely you break it while pan-frying (It’s the type I use for Salt & Pepper Tofu, Hakka Stuffed Tofu, etc.).
Soft tofu (Nen Dou Fu/嫩豆腐) would also work if you deal with it carefully (the type for Mapo Tofu). But silken tofu (Juan Dou Fu/绢豆腐), the super fragile type that sets in a mold instead of being pressed, is not suitable for this recipe.
If possible, I recommend you purchase tofu from your local Chinese/Asian stores. In my experience, tofu sold in the vegan section of mainstream supermarkets doesn’t work well in classic Chinese dishes. Particularly, avoid extra firm tofu as it tastes too crumbly and dry.
Apart from tofu, here are what you need for this dish:
- Scallions (green onion/spring onion). Use a generous amount as they provide the key flavor.
- Soy sauce. Use both the light & dark versions for the best taste and an appetizing look.
- Sugar. A little will be enough to balance the flavor.
- Cornstarch. It’s for thickening the sauce. Other types of starch, such as tapioca, sweet potato, and potato, work too.
- Neutral cooking oil. It can be vegetable, sunflower, canola, soybean, corn, rapeseed, peanut oil, etc.
Step 1: Prepare the ingredients
Start by cutting the tofu blocks into slices. You may cut them into squares as shown in the images, or triangle pieces like what I used for Sichuan Braised Tofu. I suggest you aim for a thickness of around ¾ inch (2 cm). Use a kitchen towel/paper to pat dry each piece. This helps to remove some of the moisture so that the oil splashes less during pan-frying.
Separate the white and green parts of the scallions. Finely chop the white part which has a strong aroma and is good for flavoring the oil. Halve the green part lengthways. It has a less intense flavor but is excellent at bringing colors to the dish.
Step 2: Pan-fry the tofu
Add oil to a wok or a skillet (frying pan). Heat over medium heat until moderately hot (Test with the tip of a chopstick. It’s ready when you see bubbles appearing around it). Note that you don’t need too much oil. Shallow frying does the job and creates less mess.
Carefully put in the tofu pieces. Fry them in a single layer. When the bottom side turns golden, flip over to brown the other side. Then transfer them out leaving any oil in the cookware.
🛎 Tip: Try not to move the tofu around while frying until the side facing down becomes crispy. Otherwise, you have a higher chance to break the tofu. This is particularly important when using a traditional wok without any non-stick coating (learn how to avoid sticking in my Wok Guide post).
Step 3: Braise the tofu
Use the remaining oil to fry the chopped scallion white. Once they are lightly golden, add light soy sauce, dark soy sauce, sugar, and water. Bring it to a boil over high heat.
Put in the fried tofu pieces, along with the scallion greens. Leave to braise over high heat for about 2 minutes. Flip the tofu once if you’re using a skillet/frying pan so that both sides of the tofu are braised in the sauce.
Step 4: Thicken the sauce
Finally, turn the heat down to low and pour in the cornstarch slurry (remember to stir it well beforehand). Gently stir around until the sauce thickens to the desired consistency (just thick enough to coat the spatula).
🛎 Tip: Remember that the sauce will continue to thicken a little further after you dish it out. So if you cook the sauce for too long, it might become too thick and sticky when you eat it.
Alternative: Air-frying method
If you have an air-fryer, you may air-fry the tofu pieces instead of pan-frying them. You’d need less oil in this case.
Coat tofu pieces with a thin layer of oil (use a sprayer if available). Place them, in a single layer, over the crisper tray of a preheated air-fryer at 390°F/200°C. Leave to air-fry for 10-12 minutes until they become golden.
Other tofu recipes
Looking for more classic tofu dishes? Try these popular ones:
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Scallion Tofu (葱烧豆腐)
- Cut tofu into slices of around ¾ inch (2 cm) thickness. Pat dry their surface with kitchen paper.
- Finely chop the white part of the scallions, then halve the green part.
- Heat oil in a wok or skillet/frying pan. Gently slide in the tofu pieces. Arrange them in a single layer and leave to fry over medium heat until the bottom side turns golden. Flip over to fry the other side (see note 3 for air-frying method).
- Transfer out the pan-fried tofu leaving any oil in the wok/skillet. Put in the chopped scallion white and fry until lightly brown.
- Add light soy sauce, dark soy sauce, sugar, and water. Bring it to a full boil then put the tofu back in, along with the scallion greens. Leave to braise uncovered over high heat for about 2 minutes.
- Turn the heat down to low. Pour in the cornstarch slurry (stir it well beforehand). Simmer until the sauce thickens to the desired consistency (just thick enough to coat the spatula).
NUTRITION DISCLOSURE: Nutritional information on this website is provided as a courtesy to readers. It should be considered estimates. Please use your own brand nutritional values or your preferred nutrition calculator to double check against our estimates.