Crispy on the bite, yet delicately soft, this pan-fried Teriyaki Tofu is incredibly flavorful! Enjoy this Japanese dish as an appetizer, or even as the main dish accompanied with rice and a few of your favorite sides. It’s a dynamic recipe for anyone to try, with easy options to turn the dish into vegan or gluten-free!
There are so many delicious ways to enjoy tofu in Japanese cooking. We stir-fry, simmer, deep-fry, or steam tofu. We even eat it as Cold Tofu in the summer. One of the most popular tofu dishes you may already know is Agedashi Tofu, which is tender creamy tofu bites in a crunchy deep fried shell soaked in dashi broth.
Today, I’m sharing another fried tofu recipe with this pan-fried Teriyaki Tofu (照り焼き豆腐). This is the game-changer recipe to make for that person in your family who is so certain they do not like tofu. It looks elegant – but it is surprisingly easy to create – with a crispy, crunch on the outside to sell it at first bite, and a melt-in-your-mouth smoothness to make it memorable. This pan-fried Teriyaki Tofu is incredibly flavorful, and fun to serve as an appetizer, side dish, or even the main dish.
Easy 3-step Teriyaki Tofu
First time cooking tofu at home? Here are 3 easy steps to make delicious teriyaki tofu:
Step 1: Drain tofu well and slice
The first thing you want to do is open the tofu package and start draining the tofu. If you drain for 15 minutes, it’s plenty. Cut the tofu into half inch slices.
Step 2: Coat with potato starch and pan-fry
Prepare a tray/dish with potato starch. If you don’t have potato starch, you can use cornstarch.
Heat the oil over medium heat, and start dredging tofu in potato starch. Shake off any excess starch and place the tofu in the frying pan. Be patient as you pan-fry the tofu. Try not to keep flipping the tofu. Wait until one side is firmed up and nicely seared before you flip it around to cook on the other side.
Step 3: Add homemade teriyaki sauce and coat the tofu
Once all sides of the tofu are evenly browned and crisp, pour in the teriyaki sauce. You should hear some nice sizzles from the hot frying pan. The moisture in the sauce will evaporate as the sauce thickens. Gently coat the tofu with the sauce, and sprinkle katsuobushi over for an extra umami boost! To serve, garnish the tofu with green onion and red pickled ginger.
Delicious Variations for Japanese Pan-Fried Tofu
When this pan-fried teriyaki tofu becomes part of your regular rotation, you will probably want to try it with different types of sauces. Here are my quick and easy variations that my family loves!
1. Homemade Ponzu
Okay, if you are not into homemade ponzu, you can purchase it too (but you will be surprised how easy and SUPER delicious homemade ponzu is, trust me). Instead of teriyaki sauce, use ponzu sauce and sprinkle grated daikon and green onion. Sprinkle shichimi togarashi (Japanese seven spice) for a kick.
2. Tonkatsu Sauce
Give this tofu dish a street food vibe reminding you of delicious okonomiyaki or takoyaki. Season with tonkatsu sauce and sprinkle aonori (green nori), zigzag some Japanese mayo, and garnish with green onion and red pickled ginger. Kids love it!
3. Sesame-Soy Dipping Sauce
This is another versatile sauce that goes with a wide variety of Asian finger foods or appetizers. Whisk together soy sauce, rice vinegar, a pinch of sugar or honey, sesame oil, chopped green onions, chopped garlic and toasted sesame seeds, you’d have a marvelous sauce for the pan-fried tofu. Feel free to add in some fresh chopped chili peppers if you like.
4. Garlic-Chili Sauce
If you like things spicy, you can smother the pan-fried tofu with a quick homemade garlic-chili sauce. It’s as easy as chopping up some garlic and mixing it with Sriracha sauce or sweet chili sauce, soy sauce, rice vinegar, honey/ sugar and a generous squeeze of lime juice. This version will really kick-start your palate.
Make It Vegetarian, Vegan or Gluten-Free
For those of you who are vegetarian and vegan, all you need to do is to omit the last ingredient – katsuobushi or dried bonito flakes. Super easy conversion.
If you are gluten-free, simply swap soy sauce with gluten free soy sauce.
Japanese Ingredient Substitution: If you want to look for substitutes for Japanese condiments and ingredients, click here.
- 14 oz medium tofu (momen tofu)
- ¼-⅓ cup potato starch/cornstarch
- 1-2 Tbsp neutral-flavored oil (vegetable, rice bran, canola, etc)
- 1-2 packs katsuobushi (dried bonito flakes) (3-6 g, more if you like; skip for vegan/vegetarian)
- 1 green onion/scallion
- pickled red ginger (beni shoga or kizami beni shoga) (to garnish)
- Gather all the ingredients.
- [30 Minutes Before Cooking ] Wrap the tofu with a paper towel and place it between two baking sheets or plates. Then put a heavy object on top in order to press and drain water from tofu for 20-30 minutes. Discard the water. Alternatively, you can wrap the tofu with a paper towel and microwave it for 2-3 minutes.
- To make teriyaki sauce, combine 2 Tbsp sake, 2 Tbsp mirin, and 2 Tbsp soy sauce in a measuring cup or small bowl.
- Cut Tofu into small square pieces. The thickness should be about ½ inches.
- Chop green onion. In a non-stick frying pan, heat 1-2 Tbsp oil on medium to medium-high heat.
- When the oil is hot, put potato or cornstarch in a tray or bowl. Coat the tofu with the starch.
- Shake off excess starch and gently place tofu pieces in the pan. Cook the tofu until the bottom side is crispy and golden brown. Flip and cook the other side.
- When both sides are nicely brown, pour in the Teriyaki Sauce.
- Flip tofu and shake the pan to evenly coat the sauce over the tofu. Sprinkle katsuobushi (dried bonito flakes) before turning off the heat.
- Serve the tofu on the plate and garnish with green onions and pickled red ginger. Serve immediately.
Editor’s Note: The post was originally published on March 28, 2011. The images and content have been updated in May 2018.