Light, crispy and spongy in a good way, this Puffed Tofu does not disappoint. It’s great for a variety of different meals and quick to make!
- Oil for frying, such as safflower seed, canola, or vegetable (omit if baking)
- 1 pound block of FRESH tofu (preferred, but can use firm-extra firm) (see note 1)
- 1/2 cup arrowroot powder or cornstarch (see note 2)
- 1 teaspoon baking powder (see note 3)
Deep Frying Method
- Heat oil: Heat about 3 inches of oil in a large, heavy bottomed pot with tall sides over medium high heat. How long it takes depends on the strength of your burner and the thickness of your pot--it took about 10 minutes for me. Note that it’s important to have the right temperature of oil--pick up a frying thermometer or similar and keep testing the oil. Once it’s at 375 degrees Fahrenheit (191 degrees Celsius), you’ll want to turn the heat down to medium or medium low and periodically re-test the oil. The actual cooking process is quite quick once the oil is the right heat. I’ve read online that you can place a wooden skewer in the oil temporarily to test the oil--if it starts bubbling little bubbles then it’s hot enough.
- Prep tofu: While the oil heats, remove the tofu from the package. The fresh tofu I buy from my local Asian grocery store comes packed in a clear container with water. Drain the water and gently wrap with paper towels or a clean tea towel/kitchen towel. You don’t want to break the tofu--there’s no need to press it. Just use a towel or two to absorb the excess water. Cube or cut the tofu into triangles. I like chunky tofu puffs, so I cut them in cubes that were about 1 ¼ inches in size.
- Coat tofu: In a medium bowl, whisk together the arrowroot powder or cornstarch with the baking powder. Roll each tofu cube in it so all sides are covered, then place on a plate.
- Add to pot: Once the oil is to heat, CAREFULLY drop in the tofu cubes one at a time. Depending on the diameter of your pot, cook the tofu in 2-3 batches--do not crowd it. When you drop them in, try to either use your spider strainer or drop them in so that they splash AWAY from you. Best to use a utensil for this. And ideally cover the pot with a splatter screen to help protect your skin against oil splatters.
- Cook tofu: Stir the tofu for the first 2 minutes gently, using your spider strainer or a slotted spoon to keep the tofu cubes from sticking together. They should float within 3-4 minutes and should be stirred occasionally after that. When they’re evenly and lightly browned, they’re ready to remove.
- Cool: Place on a cooling rack with a tray or foil underneath it OR a paper towel lined plate to catch the excess oil.
- Repeat: Cook remaining tofu and then turn the heat off.
- Serve: Serve puffed tofu with a dipping sauce, with rice and a sauce you made, or incorporate into another dish (see suggestions in the article above). Enjoy!
- Store: Refrigerate leftover puffs in an airtight container for up to 2-3 days, however my personal opinion is that they’re best on the first night. You can freeze them, but freezing seems to affect the molecular makeup of tofu and cause it to be a little chewier, so keep that in mind.
- Prep oven: Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit (205 degrees Celsius) and line a rimmed baking tray with a silicone baking mat or parchment paper.
- Press tofu: Wrap tofu in kitchen or paper towels and press with a heavy weight or a tofu press for 15-20 minutes.
- Cut tofu: Cube or cut the tofu into triangles. I like chunky tofu, so I cut them in cubes that were about 1 ¼ inches in size.
- Bread tofu: In a medium bowl, whisk together the arrowroot powder or cornstarch with the baking powder. Roll each tofu cube in it so all sides are covered, then place on the tray, leaving a little room between each piece.
- Bake: Bake for 25-30 minutes (until desired texture is reached), flipping each piece and rotating the tray about halfway through the cooking process.
- Serve: Serve with a dipping sauce, with rice and a sauce you made, or incorporate into another dish (see suggestions below). Enjoy!
- Store: Refrigerate leftover tofu in an airtight container for up to 2-3 days, however my personal opinion is that they’re best on the first night. You can freeze them, but freezing seems to affect the molecular makeup of tofu and cause it to be a little chewier, so keep that in mind.
- Note 1: I HIGHLY recommend using FRESH tofu--the package will say Fresh on it. This can be found at Asian grocery stores and markets, or if you’re especially dedicated, you can make your own. While you can still make some tasty tofu using the normal water packed tofu (I recommend Firm or Extra Firm but NOT vacuum sealed tofu), it will be more chewy than fluffy. I’ve made this both with Extra Firm normal tofu and with Fresh Tofu and both were good, but the Fresh Tofu makes THE BEST puffed tofu.
- Note 2: While this isn’t absolutely necessary, I found it to be really important for getting a nice crust onto the tofu.
- Note 3: Just a smidgen of baking powder really makes a difference in the puffs. I tried tofu puffs from my local Asian market (that they make) and they have baking powder in them and were fantastic, so that’s where I got the idea.
- Prep Time: 5 minutes
- Cook Time: 15 minutes
- Category: Entree, Meat alternatives, Appetizers
- Method: Stove top, frying
- Cuisine: Asian
Keywords: Puffed Tofu, Meat alternatives, Appetizers