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Stir-Fried Japanese Tofu

Japanese Tofu

This Japanese tofu that I’m talking about isn’t Japanese, strictly. It’s actually a tofu that’s made with egg added to the soybean milk before it is packed into little tubes and allowed to curdle. I know that doesn’t sound all that appetizing, but actually, this soft and creamy tofu is one of my favorite kinds of tofu. The egg makes the tofu especially silky and smooth, with a richness that normal silken tofu doesn’t have.

This stir-fry is a variation on a common dish that we eat in the Chinese restaurants in our neighborhood, known as riben doufu (Japanese tofu). Sometimes it is braised in a clay pot with mushrooms, wood ear fungus, and (I know this is unexpected) sliced up hot dogs. Sometimes it’s stir-fried with green chilies and a hong shao sauce, a delicious red sauce that is one of my favorite ways to eat almost anything. Almost always, when we order Japanese tofu, it is double fried – first pan-fried to give the silken chunks of tofu a deliciously browned skin, and then stir-fried with the rest of the ingredients and the sauce.

This version is a simple but savory stir-fry with the tofu, green peppers and fresh shiitake mushrooms, coated with a rich brown sauce. If you want it a bit more spicy, use green chilies instead of bell peppers, and if you want some meat in it, add some sliced pork. By the way, I know that often tofu is considered a vegetarian dish, but in Chinese cooking it’s freely mixed into meat dishes. I’m not sure how the oyster sauce used in the brown sauce fares on the vegetarian front, so if you’re in doubt, you can substitute something else – perhaps some more soy sauce or some savory-spicy fermented bean sauce.

Japanese Tofu close

Stir-Fried Japanese Tofu (Egg Tofu)

250g Japanese Egg Tofu
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 green bell pepper, cut into chunks
12 medium fresh shiitake mushrooms, sliced
1 tsp dark soy sauce
1 tbsp oyster sauce
½ tsp MSG-free granulated chicken powder (or vegetable bouillon)
1 scant tsp cornstarch
2 tbsp water (and more for thinning sauce)
Neutral tasting cooking oil (not olive oil)

In a small bowl, stir together soy sauce, oyster sauce, chicken powder, cornstarch, and water. Set sauce aside.

Remove tofu from package and cut into ¾ inch chunks. Heat 2 tbsp of cooking oil in a skillet over high heat. When oil is hot (it should shimmer), add the tofu. Panfry, stirring occasionally, until tofu is browned on all sides, about 4 min. Remove the tofu with a slotted spoon and set aside.

In the skillet with the remaining oil, reduce heat to medium-high. Stir-fry the mushrooms until they start to soften, and then add the green bell peppers and minced garlic. Toss the mixture around a few times to cook the peppers, but make sure they’re still crisp, about 30 seconds. Add the fried tofu and stir-fry carefully, making sure you don’t break the chunks of tofu, just until heated through, less than 1 minute.

Add the sauce, and stir into the mixture until bubbly and thickened, less than 30 sec. If sauce is too thick, add a little more water and stir it in thoroughly.

Serve immediately with steamed white rice.

10 comments to Stir-Fried Japanese Tofu

  • I really love tofu and would love to try this type! The stir fry sounds delicious especially with the green peppers.

  • I LOVE tofu!! Of course I’m in the minority in my house, which is a shame. This recipe looks amazing, it’s a goal of mine to get better at cooking asian-inspired dishes. Thank you for giving me a new recipe to try!

    Found you @ foodgawker, by the way!

  • Jennie

    Ah thanks so much! My bf loves Japanese tofu, but i didn’t know how to cook it. Now i know. :)

  • Camilla

    Mrs Jen – it’s a goal of mine to put more Asian inspired recipes up on the site! I grew up eating Asian, but don’t end up cooking Asian dishes as often as I’d like.

  • ada

    thank youu!! i’ve always wanted to be able to cook japanese tofu coz i reaally love them! thanx again for the recipe!

  • Camilla

    you are very welcome =).

  • Kevin

    I just had a dish similar to this tonight here in Sydney, but the tofu was coated in beaten egg then deep-fried, and served with seafood.

    It. Was. Delicious.

    Would you know how to coat the tofu in egg? S:

  • This was my favourite dish when I lived in China. I can’t find this type of tofu anywhere in London but now I’ve learned it’s quite simple to make it at home I know exactly what I need to buy tonight!!

  • Ashley

    Just made this tonight. I didn’t have mushrooms, so I subbed some zucchini that I had a ton of and also added some jalapeño and siracha (I like it spicy). This was absolutely DELICIOUS :) Thank you for the recipe!

  • Sarah

    Best egg tofu recipe. Extremely accurate recipe. I tried with all sorts of green Vegs and it works. Thank u!