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pan fried tofu

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i was very surprised i couldn't find any posts on actually cooking tofu in this forum. i have tried a few times and it just doesn't turn out well and was hoping for some pointers.
usually i buy the firm tofu to pan fry it. i take it out of the block and place it on top of a lot of paper towels on a plate then place more towels on top along with a pan for weight to get all the water out. i swap out the wet towels for dry ones and rotate the block to get all the water out - i prob only wait 20 mins (should i try longer?).
then cut it up and put it in a light batter of the boxed fish fry mix (i find it easier than flour to keep due to the size of my kitchen).
put a pan on high heat, throw in some oil (i've tried many different but i think i like the peanut oil best) and just fry a few mins on each side till golden.
issues - my batter always falls off and i can't get that firm outside, soft inside i'm looking for.
what am i doing wrong?
also how would i prepare tofu for a thai curry?

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  1. For the Thai curry I usually just buy pre-fried tofu.

    1. don't know how heavy your pan is that you use to press, but that method works for me. i use a big cast iron baby though.

      you may also want to try a more traditional batter method and dip the pieces in flour, then egg, then fry mix.

      lastly, not sure what yhou mean by "high heat". your oil may be too hot.

      4 Replies
      1. re: hotoynoodle

        its definitely not cast iron because i dont have one - its a frying pan that i press on slightly - so i will make sure to add some weight to it - maybe a canned good?
        your right i prob should give it a shot - i just rarely bake or fry much in general so i don't have a need for flour and cabinet space is limited in my kitchen.
        high heat - im not sure how to explain but nothing burns...

        1. re: pie22

          yes, a big can, like canned tomatoes if you have it. you can buy small bags of flour. store it in the freezer.

          1. re: hotoynoodle

            I dont try to batter fry tofu - the asians usually just dust the tofu with cornstarch, I think. When I do it I dont use firm tofu - it is never going to get creamy. I use fresh tofu from the tofu store, wrap in paper towels and lay a small cutting board and some cookbooks (or my frying pan) on it. I then cut it into the desired size pieces (or leave whole and cut after) and fry in a non-stick pan in a fair amount of peanut oil - med high temp.
            Make sure the oil is hot before putting in the tofu. If you dont have enuf oil it will not fry properly. I am planning to try the cornstarch dusting the next time.

            1. re: jen kalb

              --"doh!"-- moment on the cornstarch. thx.

      2. Improperly drained tofu is usually the culprit but it sounds like you are doing the job. I'd recommend tossing the tofu in some corn starch, which will give you the golden color you are looking for. But make sure it is lightly tossed as you don't want a corn starch gloopy mess (which has happened to me before).

        2 Replies
        1. re: CreativeFoodie42

          ah yes cornstarch, i will give it a try - can that be purchased in the regular supermarket? where would i locate it?

          1. re: pie22

            Corn starch is in the baking section of your supermarket.

        2. I prefer extra firm tofu because I don't have to coat it to get a nice golden crust. It makes life a lot easier if you use a non stick pan.

          1. try dipping in corn starch, then egg, then crust (i heart panko)....It never falls off or sticks to the pan (eggless mayo works well in leiu of eggs if yer going vegan)

            1. I drain like you do and use tempura batter. I dust it first with the tempura flour and then into tempura batter and fry till golden.

              3 Replies
              1. re: mochi mochi

                So glad to see this thread, because I've having the same problem! I don't really care to batter my tofu, though - if I just press the water out, cut and fry it in some oil, how long is this supposed to take?

                I usually use firm tofu, but then it just sticks to the bottom of my pan or, if it doens't do that, it all falls apart! I've taken to baking it just to get it solid enough to use in stir fries, salads, etc!

                  1. re: anakalia

                    it wont stick if its dry and you put it into the pan with adequate HOT oil (the oil should be shimmering before you put the items in.) Letting the tofu warm up to room temp before frying helps too. Most frying problems in my experience start with inadequate oil, too low a temperature and moist items. Shouldnt take more than 10 min to fry at medium high heat.

                1. when i make a stir fry with tofu, I usually either coat it with cornstarch or do the 3 bowl method (starch, egg, crust) and fry in batches or oven bake (425-450) for the crispiest tofu ever...I cook all my veggies separate, then add the sauce and gently stir the tofu at the end...veggies are not overcooked, & tofu's (and it's crust) remains whole.

                  1. you don't need to bread tofu at all. You can just dry off firm or extra firm tofu and fry it straight up in the oil till it turns a golden brown. It can take several minutes. I've been trying to cut out the fat a little so I have even managed to get it golden brown in a nonstick pan with a little cooking spray and have also had good results in the oven.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: bw2082

                      I agree , I have never breaded and have no problem . I do not even press ...just dry on paper towels. I use firm , do not use silky.