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With a combination of salty, sweet, slightly spicy, and umami-rich flavors, this pan-fried garlic tofu is packed with flavor and perfect with grains, stir-fries, and more. Gluten-free and sugar-free options are included!

completed Vegan Garlicky-Ginger Tofu Triangles on a white serving platter with marinade and green onions scattered throughout
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Quick and Simple Pan-Fried Garlic Tofu

While tofu’s plain flavor makes it unlikeable to some, it also makes it super versatile, and the perfect blank canvas for soaking up surrounding flavors. For example, this pan-fried ginger garlic tofu combines classic flavors like soy sauce, garlic, and ginger to create a simple tofu marinade that transforms this plain ingredient into something utterly delicious!

While it’s delicious as is, there are also several simple add-ins you could experiment with to make flavor variations such as spicy garlic tofu, sesame ginger tofu, etc. Keep reading for all my recommendations. Plus, the marinade doubles up as a simple, delicious ginger-garlic stir fry sauce, too!

Best of all, this ginger garlic tofu recipe is super simple to prepare. All you need are 7 inexpensive pantry staples, minimal hands-on prep, and no fancy tools or gadgets. Simply drain and chop the tofu, mix the tofu marinade, leave it to soak, and pan-fry until it’s darkened and delicious!

This meal preppable tofu can be enjoyed as an appetizer or main, served over a bed of rice or noodles, added to a stir fry, etc. The result is a flavorful yet simple vegan side/main packed with flavor and plant-based protein. 

The Ingredients

measured out ingredients for Vegan Garlicky-Ginger Tofu Triangles on a white surface

I love to use recipes that rely on just a handful of inexpensive pantry staples. Take this garlic tofu recipe, for example. All you need are 7 ingredients, plus water and oil.

  • Tofu: Firm tofu should work, but I recommend using extra-firm tofu for the best result.
  • Garlic: Use fresh garlic cloves for the best flavor, though ‘lazy’ pre-minced garlic may work in a pinch. Adjust the amount to taste.
  • Ginger: The same goes as the above. Adjust the amount to taste.
  • Soy sauce: Dark soy sauce contains more depth, though use a reduced-sodium version if preferred. For a gluten-free option, use tamari or coconut aminos.
  • Brown sugar: Or another sweetener such as coconut sugar (unrefined) or maple syrup. You could also use a sugar-free brown sugar alternative. 
  • Lemon juice: Use fresh lemon or lime juice for the best flavor. Rice vinegar would also work.
  • Water: To help make up the correct tofu marinade consistency.
  • Oil: Use any cooking oil. i.e., olive oil, avocado oil, vegetable oil, etc.
  • Green onion: Will add a lovely fresh element to the marinade (and garnish).

What Else Could I Add?

  • Hoisin sauce: A tiny bit of hoisin sauce will add depth to the ginger tofu marinade.
  • Red pepper flakes or chili paste: For spicy garlic tofu, feel free to add either, adjusting the amount to taste. Sriracha or another hot sauce would also work.
  • Sesame: For sesame ginger tofu, I recommend adding a teaspoon of toasted sesame oil to the marinade and a tablespoon or two of raw or toasted sesame seeds.

How to Make Ginger Garlic Tofu?

There are only a few steps needed to prepare this simple marinated tofu.

  • 1) First, drain the tofu. Then cut it into ⅓-inch slices and cut each of those in half on a diagonal to create triangle slices. Then transfer those to a large baking dish and set it aside.
process shot of slicing tofu on cutting board
process shot of slicing tofu into triangle shape on cutting board
  • 2) Next, finely chop, grate, or mince the garlic and ginger.
  • 3) Prepare the easy tofu marinade by combining all the ingredients except the oil in a bowl and whisking well.
measured out ingredients for Vegan Garlicky-Ginger Tofu Triangles on a white surface
process shot of ingredients for marinade in a white bowl being mixed

The easiest way to peel ginger is with a spoon, scraping it over the peel.

  • 4) Pour the marinade over the tofu, flipping them to ensure they’re coated well. Allow them to marinate for a minimum of two hours, flipping halfway.
process shot of tofu triangles on a white surface along side marinade in white bowl
process shot of tofu triangles in marinade in white tray

You can marinate the tofu for up to 24 hours, covered in the refrigerator.

  • 5) Heat a large skillet over high heat with a swirl of oil to coat the bottom of the pan. Add as many of the marinated tofu slices as will fit in a single layer. Allow them to cook, untouched, until they’re browned (2-3 minutes), then repeat on the other side.
  • 6) Pour in the remaining marinade from the baking dish and continue to cook the garlic ginger tofu until it darkens slightly (around 45 seconds). Flip the tofu and repeat.
  • 7) Remove the garlic tofu from the heat and serve it garnished with the remaining thinly sliced onion.

FAQs

Can I thicken the leftover marinade into a sauce?

You can add a small amount of cornstarch slurry to the sauce in the pan and simmer, constantly stirring, until it thickens. I recommend using ½-1 tbsp of cornstarch with 1-2 tbsp water.

For the best results, do this step after doing the initial cooking of the tofu. Remove it from the pan, thicken the sauce, and then add the tofu back into the pan to coat it.

Do I need to press the tofu?

While not 100% necessary, feel free to press the tofu for 30 minutes before marinating it to release the excess liquid. This will allow the tofu marinade to penetrate further and can yield crispier results, too.

To press the tofu, drain it, wrap it in a clean kitchen towel, and then place something heavy on top to press it, like a heavy book placed within a heavy pan. Leave it for 30 minutes to drain.

Should I freeze the tofu beforehand?

This is entirely up to you. If you’ve cooked with tofu a lot, you may prefer the texture of previously frozen and thawed tofu. This comes down to personal preference. The freezing process causes spongy holes in the tofu and makes for a chewier, meatier consistency and more pockets to soak up the flavor.

What if it tastes too salty?

Acidic ingredients work well to balance saltiness, so add more lemon/lime juice or vinegar. You could also slightly increase the amount of sugar added to the tofu marinade.

Could I bake the garlic tofu?

I haven’t tested this recipe in the oven, but it should work. First, I recommend marinating the tofu and pressing away excess marinade with clean paper towels. Next, lightly dust the pieces with cornstarch.

Bake it in the oven at 400F/205C for 25-30 minutes, on a parchment-lined baking sheet, flipping halfway. In the last 5 minutes, transfer the leftover marinade to a small saucepan over medium heat and add a cornstarch slurry, stirring to thicken. Add the crispy baked tofu to the ginger garlic sauce to coat, and enjoy!

completed close up of Vegan Garlicky-Ginger Tofu Triangles on a white serving platter with marinade and green onions scattered throughout

Top Recipe Tips and Notes

  • Change the tofu shape: Keep it in triangle or rectangle slices or chop it down into tofu cubes. Change the shape according to your dish. Slice the pieces evenly so they cook at the same rate.
  • Adjust the taste: Simply tweak the ingredients to make a dish that’s sweeter, tangier, saltier, etc.
  • Increase the amount of marinade: If you prefer a saucier dish or to add to stir-fries with extra veggies, noodles, etc.
  • Allow the tofu to sear: Add the marinated tofu to a searing hot pan and allow it to cook until browned and seared, then flip. This isn’t a recipe where you want to be stirring a lot.
  • For crispier results: I recommend pressing the tofu for 30 minutes before marinating it. You can also remove excess marinade from the tofu with clean paper towels before lightly dusting the tofu triangles in cornstarch to pan fry until crispy before adding the ginger garlic sauce.
  • Use the leftovers: The ginger garlic marinade also makes for an excellent ginger garlic stir fry sauce, especially with the addition of toasted sesame oil and seeds.

How to Serve Marinated Tofu?

  • Grains: Serve the ginger garlic tofu over a bed of rice or quinoa.
  • Noodles: Enjoy it with any of your favorite noodles.
  • Stir fry: This marinade doubles up as a ginger garlic stir fry sauce, perfect for using with mixed vegetables and/or noodles, too.
  • Veggies: marinated tofu pairs particularly well with veggies like bok choy, broccoli, Brussel sprouts, cauliflower, carrot, peppers, etc.
  • Salad: Serve the tofu over a bed of lettuce or in a larger salad/grain bowl.

Storage Instructions

Prep: You can leave the tofu to marinate for up to 24 hours.

Fridge: Allow the pan-fried tofu to cool and store any leftovers in an airtight container for up to 3 days. The sauce, sourced separately, will last up to a week (minus the green onions).

Reheat: Use either a microwave or the stovetop to reheat the garlic tofu.

completed Vegan Garlicky-Ginger Tofu Triangles on a white serving platter with marinade and green onions scattered throughout

More Savory Tofu Recipes

If you try this pan-fried ginger garlic tofu recipe, I’d love to know what you think in the comments below. I’d also really appreciate a recipe card rating!

Photos by Alfonso Revilla This recipe is also an original recipe created alongside Michelle Cehn (founder of World of Vegan) from the Friendly Vegan Cookbook!

Pan-Fried Garlic Tofu

4.93 from 42 votes
Prep: 2 hours
Cook: 10 minutes
Total: 2 hours 10 minutes
Servings: 4 -6 servings
With a combination of salty, sweet, slightly spicy, and umami-rich flavors, this pan-fried garlic tofu is packed with flavor and perfect with grains, stir-fries, and more. Gluten-free and sugar-free options included!

Ingredients 

  • 14 to 16 ounces of extra-firm tofu, drained
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tablespoons of soy sauce
  • 3 stalks of green onion, thinly sliced, plus more for garnish
  • Juice of 1 small lemon
  • 2 tablespoons of brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon of fresh ginger, grated
  • 1/4 cup of water
  • 2 tablespoons of oil

Instructions 

  • Cut tofu into ⅓ inch thick triangular slices, place in a large casserole dish, and set aside.
  • To create the marinade, thoroughly mix together the rest of the ingredients (except the oil) in a medium bowl and pour over the tofu. Allow tofu to sit for a minimum of two hours, or overnight for a richer taste. Flip tofu halfway in-between.
  • Once the tofu is marinated, place a large sauté pan over high heat. Add just enough oil to coat the bottom of the pan. Add as many tofu slices as will fit in one layer. Cook until tofu is browned on the bottom, 2-3 minutes. Flip the pieces, and brown on the other side, about 2 minutes. Pour in the marinade mixture, and cook until tofu darkens slightly, about 45 seconds. Flip tofu and repeat.
  • Garnish with remaining thinly sliced green onion.

Video

Notes

  • Change the tofu shape: Keep it in triangle or rectangle slices or chop it down into tofu cubes. Change the shape according to your dish. Slice the pieces evenly so they cook at the same rate.
  • Allow the tofu to sear: Add the marinated tofu to a searing hot pan and allow it to cook until browned and seared, then flip. This isn’t a recipe where you want to be stirring a lot.
  • For crispier results: I recommend pressing the tofu for 30 minutes before marinating it. You can also remove excess marinade from the tofu with clean paper towels before lightly dusting the tofu triangles in cornstarch to pan fry until crispy before adding the ginger garlic sauce.

Nutrition

Calories: 150kcalCarbohydrates: 10gProtein: 8gFat: 9gSaturated Fat: 1gPolyunsaturated Fat: 2gMonounsaturated Fat: 5gSodium: 568mgPotassium: 201mgFiber: 0.3gSugar: 7gVitamin A: 1IUVitamin C: 5mgCalcium: 42mgIron: 1mg

Disclaimer: Although plantbasedonabudget.com attempts to provide accurate nutritional information, kindly note that these are only estimates. Nutritional information may be affected based on the product type, the brand that was purchased, and in other unforeseeable ways. Plantbasedonabudget.com will not be held liable for any loss or damage resulting for your reliance on nutritional information. If you need to follow a specific caloric regimen, please consult your doctor first.

Additional Info

Author: Toni Okamoto
Course: Main Course
Method: stovetop
Diet: vegan
Tried this recipe?Please tag us at @PlantBasedOnABudget! 🙂
About

Toni Okamoto

“They say you are what you eat, so I strive to be healthy.
My goal in life is not to be rich or wealthy,
‘Cause true wealth comes from good health and wise ways…
we got to start taking better care of ourselves ” – Dead Prez

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  1. 2 stars
    Hi,
    I am new to plant based and during my research, I noticed that plant based is meant to be oil free.
    So I am a bit confused with this recipe.
    can someone help with some information please? Thank you.