What is a Tofu Stir Fry? (with pictures)

Dan Cavallari
Dan Cavallari
A frying pan, which can be used to stir-fry tofu.
A frying pan, which can be used to stir-fry tofu.

Tofu stir fry is a dish made of tofu and various vegetables added to a pan and quickly sautéed in oil. The oil used for tofu stir fry is usually sesame oil, which is an aromatic and flavorful oil commonly used in Asian dishes. Stir fry dishes are often made with meat such as chicken, beef, and shrimp, but a tofu stir fry is made to be completely vegetarian, therefore avoiding meats in favor of tofu. Tofu is used because it is high in protein, therefore making it an adequate and healthy substitute for most meats that are higher in fat.

A plate of tofu.
A plate of tofu.

The vegetables included in a tofu stir fry will vary from recipe to recipe, though vegetables commonly used in the dish include snow peas, string beans, carrots, bamboo shoots, water chestnuts, broccoli, mushrooms, peppers, onions, bean sprouts, and baby corn. The tofu itself can be added to the dish at the same time as the vegetables for cooking, since tofu is pre-cooked. Tofu will take on the flavors of the items it is being cooked with, and the sesame oil will coat the tofu and give it adequate flavor.

Oyster and other mushrooms can be a good addition to a tofu stir fry.
Oyster and other mushrooms can be a good addition to a tofu stir fry.

When cooking the tofu stir fry, many cooks prefer to add soy sauce to the dish for flavor. Others may choose a spicier sauce such as chili garlic sauce or sriracha sauce, while less intense sauces such as hoisin or teriyaki sauce can add flavor without adding too much spice. Garlic can be added to the vegetables for an added kick of spice as well as added health benefits. The entire mix of ingredients can be sautéed in a frying pan or in a pan called a wok that is specifically designed for cooking such dishes. The dish is cooked for several minutes until the vegetables are tender and adequately coated in the sauce used for flavoring.

Tofu stir fry is commonly served over rice.
Tofu stir fry is commonly served over rice.

The finished tofu stir fry is often served over rice, though the dish can also be served on its own or over noodles. It may be served as a side dish or as a main course; when served as a side dish, it often complements a heartier meal or much larger dish. The dish may be garnished or topped with crushed peanuts, or it may be served with a side of a different type of sauce.

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    • A frying pan, which can be used to stir-fry tofu.
      A frying pan, which can be used to stir-fry tofu.
    • A plate of tofu.
      A plate of tofu.
    • Oyster and other mushrooms can be a good addition to a tofu stir fry.
      Oyster and other mushrooms can be a good addition to a tofu stir fry.
    • Tofu stir fry is commonly served over rice.
      Tofu stir fry is commonly served over rice.
    • Bamboo shoots may be included as a vegetable in a tofu stir fry.
      Bamboo shoots may be included as a vegetable in a tofu stir fry.
    • Peanut oil has a high smoking point and is widely used to stir-fry foods.
      Peanut oil has a high smoking point and is widely used to stir-fry foods.