Spicy Sesame Tofu Stir-fry

BY : PUBLISHED : January 26th, 2022 UPDATED: August 30th, 2022

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.

#completed Spicy Sesame Tofu Stir-fry plated on a white plate

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 ½ 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)
ingredients for Spicy Sesame Tofu Stir-fry measured out on a white surface

How to make the Spicy Sesame Tofu Stir-fry

Preparations:

  • 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!

Steps:

1) Make the Sauce Mixture.  Combine soy sauce, sherry, rice vinegar, cornstarch, sugar, and red pepper flakes in a small bowl. Stir to combine.

ingredients for Spicy Sesame Tofu Stir-fry measured out on a white surface
process of mixing sauce in white bowl with whisk

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.

process of adding cubed tofu to black pan
process of adding sauce to cubed tofu to black pan

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.

sliced veggies being added to pan
process of snow peas being adding to veggies on pan
process of adding mushrooms to snow peas in pan
process of adding ingredients to pan with snow peas and veggies

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.

process of adding tofu to snow peas and veggies pan
process of adding sauce to tofu and veggies in pan

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.
  • Serve it with the traditional white or brown rice. However,  you can also use quinoa, cauliflower rice, or even noodles.

Storing Spicy Sesame Tofu Stir-fry

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.

#completed Spicy Sesame Tofu Stir-fry plated on a white plate

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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!

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3.  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!
#completed Spicy Sesame Tofu Stir-fry plated on a white plate

Photos by Alfonso Revilla

#completed Spicy Sesame Tofu Stir-fry plated on a white plate

Spicy Sesame Tofu Stir-fry

Jake
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.
4.88 from 31 votes
Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 15 mins
Total Time 30 mins
Course Dinner, Lunch
Cuisine Asian
Servings 3 servings
Calories 288 kcal
METHOD Stovetop
DIET Vegan

Ingredients
  

  • ¼ cup of soy sauce
  • 1 Tablespoon of sherry or red wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon of rice vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons of cornstarch
  • 1 Tablespoon of sugar
  • ½ teaspoon of red pepper flakes This is to make it medium-hot. Adjust accordingly.
  • 2 Tablespoons of vegetable oil divided
  • 1 block of tofu pressed and cubed
  • 1 shallot sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic sliced
  • ½ pound of snow peas
  • ½ cup of sliced mushrooms
  • 1 Tablespoon of sesame seeds
  • Cooked rice for serving (optional)

Instructions
 

  • 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.
  • Serve by itself or on a bed of rice.

Video

Notes

  • 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.
  • Serve it with the traditional white or brown rice. However,  you can also use quinoa, cauliflower rice, or even noodles.

Nutrition

Calories: 288kcalCarbohydrates: 19gProtein: 17gFat: 16gSaturated Fat: 2gPolyunsaturated Fat: 9gMonounsaturated Fat: 4gTrans Fat: 1gSodium: 1097mgPotassium: 302mgFiber: 4gSugar: 9gVitamin A: 921IUVitamin C: 47mgCalcium: 236mgIron: 4mg
Tried this recipe?Please tag us at @PlantBasedonaBudget! 🙂

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.

About Jake

Jake switched to a plant based diet in 1996 and quickly realized he had no idea how to cook. All these years later and he's still trying to figure it out...

View all posts by Jake

Reader Interactions

Comments

  1. Jorie says

    Sounds delicious!! Can you use something other than that much sugar?

    • Andrea White says

      You could always add less and adjust to your liking 🙂 Enjoy!

  2. Michelle Cehn says

    Goodness me, this looks divine!!

  3. Gina House says

    Yes! I love everything about this recipe. The spice and the sesame flavors are perfection. I adore this stir fry!

  4. Amanda says

    Give me ALL the tofu!

  5. Teodora Grujic says

    Tofu is not my favorite, but this turned out great!

  6. Andrea White says

    So so good! Love all things tofu!

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