This Spicy Sesame Tofu Stir-Fry is a healthier homemade version of a popular Chinese restaurant take-out. Lightly pan-fried crispy tofu bites tossed with crunchy snow peas, tender mushrooms, and nutty sesame seeds – all coated in a sweet soy glaze with a punch of heat! It is a hearty and delicious comfort food that only takes 30 minutes to make using one pan.
Homemade Vegan Sesame Stir Fry
What is there to love about this dish? Everything! It is a delicious mixture of sweet, savory, and spicy, plus it uses simple ingredients that are budget-friendly and easy to find. It is perfect for those hectic weekdays when you need something quick yet filling! You will also love the combination of different textures – from the snappy snow peas, tender mushrooms, crunchy sesame seeds, and crisp-tender tofu pieces.
It is also quite customizable. You can adjust the spice level by adding, reducing, or omitting the red pepper flakes. You can also use any spices on hand or add your favorite veggies such as broccoli, carrots, bok choi, green peas, and bell peppers. It’s the perfect recipe to use leftover veggie cuts in your chiller, so they do not go to waste.
Spicy Sesame Tofu Stir-fry Ingredients
Soy sauce – We use this as the base of the sauce filled with savory and umami flavors. To make it gluten-free, you can use tamari instead.
Sherry or red wine vinegar – Adding this will give your sauce a depth of flavor that rivals those you buy from restaurants! Although sherry vinegar is sweeter than red wine vinegar, both are suitable.
Rice vinegar –Adds the right amount of tanginess with a delicate sweet taste.
Cornstarch – We will use this to thicken the sauce and give it a silky glaze.
Sugar – A modest amount balances the dish’s salty and acidic flavors.
Red pepper flakes – Using 1/2 teaspoon makes the dish medium spicy. Make adjustments to suit your tastes or make it a kid-friendly dish.
Vegetable oil – Will be used for sauce and to pan-fry the tofu.
Tofu – Use only firm to extra-firm variety for this dish. This ensures that you have compact bites that are perfectly browned and crisp on the outside. Here’s a guide to the different kinds of tofu if you want to learn more!
Snow peas – Aside from adding flavor and crunch, this also makes the dish look brighter with its fresh green color.
Mushrooms – You can choose from any type of mushrooms for this stir fry recipe. Shiitake is one of the most widely used mushrooms due to its tender texture and savory taste. You are, however, free to use whatever you have on hand.
Sesame seeds – The nutty flavor and crunch go well with our stir fry veggies.
Cooked rice – For serving (optional)
How to make the Spicy Sesame Tofu Stir-fry
Cook rice according to package instructions.
Press and dice the tofu before frying them. Check this guide on how to press tofu the right way!
1) Make the Sauce Mixture. Combine soy sauce, sherry, rice vinegar, cornstarch, sugar, and red pepper flakes in a small bowl. Stir to combine.
2) Fry the Tofu. Add 1 tablespoon of oil to a pan and cook the tofu on medium-high until golden brown. Remove and set aside.
3) Stir-fry the Veggies. Using the same pan, set heat to medium, then add 1 tablespoon of oil. Saute shallots and garlic, then add snow peas, mushrooms, and sesame seeds. Stir the veggies frequently until the peas turn a vibrant green in color.
4) Combine. Add the tofu and the soy sauce mixture into the pan until the sauce thickens. Whisk and blend well; otherwise, you will get a lumpy sauce.
5) Serve. Serve the Spicy Sesame Tofu Stir-fry over a bed of rice and enjoy!
More Tips and Substitution Ideas
Since this is a quick cook recipe, make sure all your ingredients are measured and chopped before you start cooking.
When cooking the tofu, don’t move it around too much. Allow the sides to sear well before flipping them to get that golden crunchy goodness!
Do not overcook the veggies, so they retain their color and texture. Overcooked vegetables are soggy and limp – not appetizing at all!
If you are using other veggies, make sure to slice them into equal sizes, so they all cook evenly. Some veggies need more cooking time like carrots and broccoli, so place them in the pan first.
This dish calls for tofu. If you are allergic to soy, you can substitute it with seitan.
You can add even more texture by sprinkling it with nuts like crushed cashews, peanuts, or almonds.
Refrigerate Spicy Sesame Tofu Stir-fry leftovers for up to 5 days. Reheat gently in the microwave. You can freeze this as well. Keep in mind that once the tofu has sat in the sauce for a time, the leftovers will not be as crispy.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can I use soft or silken tofu? Technically, you can, but it won’t be as crispy as it would be if you used firm or extremely firm tofu. Soft or silken tofu is usually used for soups or dips.
What to do if the sauce becomes too thick? It is a simple fix. Simply add more cooking liquid to the recipe, such as rice vinegar, soy sauce, or even plain water. Then taste to see if the seasonings need to be adjusted.
Why did my tofu become soggy? The secret for crispier tofu is hot oil. Cooking them in the pan without heating the oil sufficiently will result in the tofu absorbing the oil, making them soggy.
More easy weeknight stir-fry recipes for you!
Easy Dinner – Brown Rice Veggie Stir Fry – This is the most budget-friendly meal I’ve ever made while still providing a nutritious and delicious dish. Broccoli florets and extra firm tofu are served over a bed of steaming brown rice. This dish is perfect for lunch or dinner.
Succulent Stir Fry – This is a very versatile dish that allows me to use my favorite veggies or whatever I have on hand. Nothing is thrown away! I found some baby corn, water chestnuts, broccoli, and bean sprouts in the fridge, and now my wok is bursting at the seams with vegetables! This is a recipe that you must try.
Shiitake Asparagus Tofu Stir-fry – It is an Asian-inspired dish of tender mushrooms, crunchy asparagus, and perfectly golden tofu cubes made in less than 15 minutes, including prep time!
This Spicy Sesame Tofu Stir Fry is a healthier homemade version of a popular Chinese restaurant take-out. Lightly pan-fried crispy tofu bites tossed with crunchy snow peas, tender mushrooms, and nutty sesame seeds - all coated in a sweet soy glaze with a punch of heat! It is a hearty and delicious comfort foodthat only takes 30 minutes to make using one pan.
½teaspoonof red pepper flakesThis is to make it medium-hot. Adjust accordingly.
2Tablespoonsof vegetable oildivided
1block of tofupressed and cubed
½poundof snow peas
½cupof sliced mushrooms
1Tablespoonof sesame seeds
Cooked ricefor serving (optional)
Add the soy sauce, both kinds of vinegar, cornstarch, sugar, and red pepper flakes to a bowl and whisk together.
Heat 1 tablespoon of oil on medium-high heat and cook the tofu until golden brown. Remove and set aside.
Reduce the heat to medium, add another tablespoon of oil, and saute the shallots and garlic for about a minute. Add the snow peas, mushrooms, and sesame seeds and stir frequently until the peas turn nice and green.
Add the tofu and sauce mixture and cook until the sauce begins to thicken, about a minute.