late night tofu bowl

by Stacy

What do you eat late at night? I’ve been getting home from work after 11 pm and haven’t eaten dinner, so I end up getting hungry before bed. I don’t want to snack, so I usually end up making a late meal while my husband is asleep.

The other night I was craving a rice bowl, so I fried up some tofu and mixed up some sauce.

pan-frying tofu

People are always asking what the trick is to frying tofu. I am scared of deep-frying on many levels, so I pan-fry mine with just a coating of canola oil in the pan (high smoke point) on medium-high heat. Extra-firm tofu is drained and squeezed to get as much excess water out as possible. After cubing the block of tofu, I lay it out on the cutting board and dust it lightly with corn starch, then flip over and dust again. The corn starch gives those nice crispy edges without a ton of oil. Add the tofu to pan once a drop of water tossed into the pan sizzles. I use a non-stick pan for this, but should try it with my cast-iron skillet. Flip the tofu every few minutes so that each side gets fried. A very handy implement for this is a pair of cooking chopsticks (extra-large to let your hands be far enough away from the heat of the pan).

Normally I would coat the tofu with the sauce in the pan, but I just tossed it all on my bowl of rice.

rice bowl with tofu

Like the cupcakes, I have to apologize for the terrible lighting in my kitchen at 1am.

This was not my best sauce. There is a corn starch-based sauce I make as a decent imitation of the sesame tofu at a local Vietnamese restaurant, and this was not it. Another dangerous by-product of late-night food is that I put in way too much pepper flakes and had to drink three large glasses of water to get through the whole bowl. Oops. But the basic idea is corn starch, soy sauce, water, sugar, lemon juice, rice wine vinegar, garlic and ginger. My sesame tofu sauce also contains orange juice, but I didn’t have any. My proportions may have been off; it was late.

rice bowl with tofu

Asian spices and flavor profiles just aren’t as familiar to me, so I am thinking about finding a good cookbook (perhaps at the library) so I can learn to mix these things up a bit more intuitively. Or maybe I should stop eating meals that late. Oof.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

JodyM June 13, 2009 at 3:36 pm

I have tried tofu and I like it, but for some reason I just never think to buy any. Love the frying idea, I will add it to my next shopping list. Thanks!!

Jody in PA


stacy June 14, 2009 at 2:32 pm

Fried is the first way I tried tofu. It’s also delicious with sweet-and-sour sauce. I should really try marinating and grilling it, but I almost automatically fry it up!

Some people swear by freezing their tofu which changes the texture and makes it much easier to drain. I tried that for the first time last week and found that I prefer it unfrozen, personally.


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