Think Tofu is Bland? These 14 Asian Recipes Prove Otherwise

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Tofu is an exceptionally versatile ingredient that comes in several forms to suit different cooking methods. Its subtle flavor and ability to absorb flavors make it an excellent canvas for Asian cuisines.

This collection showcases the versatility of tofu in various Asian cuisines. You will find healthy recipes where tofu is cooked alongside other proteins like seafood and meat as well as flavorful vegetarian tofu recipes that even meat eaters will enjoy. The recipes are categorized by texture, highlighting how each type of tofu suits well with different cooking methods to enhance their unique characteristics.

a collage of Asian tofu dishes.

Soft and Silken Tofu

Silken tofu has a high water content, making it very smooth, creamy, and delicate. Soft tofu is slightly firmer than silken tofu but still has a high moisture content and a tender, smooth texture.

Both soft and silken tofu are great additions to soups, hot pots, or steamed and braised dishes where they can be handled gently to prevent breaking. Some soft tofu can even be pan-fried. Here’s how you can use silken tofu and soft tofu in Asian cooking.

a plate of steamed tofu with ground pork
Steamed Tofu with Ground Pork
a plate of steamed tofu and vegetables, mushrooms in oyster sauce
Steamed Tofu with Mushrooms & Veggies

Steamed Tofu with Ground Pork – This under 30-minute recipe combines tofu and savory ground pork seasoned with soy sauce and oyster sauce, steamed together while keeping the delicate texture of tofu.

Steamed Tofu with Mushrooms and Veggies – A healthy dish where smooth tofu is steamed alongside a variety of mushrooms and seasonal vegetables with a savory garlic oyster sauce. You can make this dish vegetarian-friendly by using vegetarian oyster sauce.

a plate of steamed tofu in fermented black bean sauce.
Steamed Tofu with Black Bean Sauce
a pot of seafood and tofu casserole
Braised Tofu and Seafood

Steamed Tofu with Black Bean Sauce – This quick recipe features tofu steamed until heated through, then topped with a homemade Chinese black bean sauce that adds a salty and umami flavor. Sprinkle some ground Sichuan pepper before serving for an extra kick.

Braised Tofu and Seafood – A luxurious Asian casserole where delicate silken tofu is layered with shrimp, scallops, and other seafood, then cooked in a savory sauce. It sounds complicated but this dish is very simple and easy to make.

a bowl of braised tofu and eggs with soy sauce, served with rice on the side.
Braised Tofu and Eggs
a plate of crispy silken tofu in salted egg sauce
Silken Tofu with Salted Egg Sauce

Braised Tofu and Eggs – This is a simple yet flavorful and comforting vegetarian dish. Tofu cubes and whole eggs are braised in a soy sauce liquid infused with star anise and cinnamon sticks.

Silken Tofu with Salted Egg Sauce – In this restaurant-style dish, soft silken tofu cubes are fried and then tossed with a rich and creamy sauce made from mashed salted duck eggs.

a plate of slices of Vietnamese vegetarian egg meatloaf (cha trung chay) with rice and soy sauce on the side.
Vietnamese Vegetarian Egg Meatloaf
a lacquer bowl with Japanese suimono clear soup with tofu, mushroom and vegetables.
Suimono Clear Soup with Silken Tofu

Vietnamese Vegetarian Egg Tofu Loaf (Chả Trứng Chay) – A blend of mashed tofu, wood ear mushrooms, glass noodles, and seasonings is formed into a loaf. We then steam it until heated through. Both vegetarians and meat eaters will enjoy this Vietnamese tofu loaf.

Japanese-style Clear Soup with Silken Tofu – Suimono is a classic Japanese soup known for its clarity and simplicity. In my version, silken tofu is simmered in a dashi-based broth, then garnished with blanched spinach, carrots and mushrooms.

Firm Tofu

Firm tofu has a denser texture and lower moisture content compared to silken and soft tofu. As a result, it can withstand more vigorous cooking methods such as frying, grilling, and sautéing.

Popular types of firm tofu include regular firm, medium-firm, and extra-firm tofu. I often prefer regular and medium-firm tofu over extra-firm one. Below are my favorite recipes for this category of tofu.

a plate of cucumber tofu salad
Fried Tofu and Cucumber Salad
A crispy slice of tofu that has been dipped in scallion fish sauce, served over rice
Vietnamese Fried Tofu with Scallion

Fried Tofu and Cucumber Salad – This is a light and refreshing dish, perfect for warm weather. It combines sliced cucumbers and golden fried tofu dressed with a simple Vietnamese-style vinaigrette. The recipe is vegetarian and vegan friendly.

Vietnamese Fried Tofu with Scallion Fish Sauce (Đậu phụ rán tẩm hành) – Crispy on the outside and soft on the inside, freshly fried tofu is dipped into a sauce made from scallions and fish sauce, creating a simple yet flavorful dish. This is one of the simple and rustic dishes we grew up with in Vietnam.

a plate of Vietnamese Lemongrass Chili Tofu (Dau Hu Chien Sa Ot).
Vietnamese Lemongrass Chili Tofu
a bowl of stuffed tofu in black bean sauce
Stuffed Tofu with Black Bean Sauce

Vietnamese Lemongrass Chili Tofu (Đậu hũ chiên sả ớt) – This Vietnamese restaurant-style dish features tofu marinated with lemongrass and chili, then fried until the exterior is crisp. This recipe is vegetarian and vegan.

Stuffed Tofu with Black Bean Sauce – Tofu is stuffed with a mixture of minced meat or seafood paste, then cooked in a savory black bean sauce that infuses the tofu with deep flavors.

a bowl of Vietnamese turmeric braised ribs, eggplants and tofu.
Vietnamese Braised Eggplant, Ribs, and Tofu

Vietnamese Turmeric Braised Eggplant, Ribs, and Tofu (Cà Tím Om Sườn Đậu Phụ) – This dish may be unheard of to people living outside of Vietnam, but the flavor combination is a classic of Northern cuisine. Pork ribs and eggplants are braised with fried tofu until tender in a flavorful broth infused with turmeric and shrimp paste. It is topped with julienned perilla leaves and betel leaves.

Dessert

two bowls of soybean pudding
Tofu pudding (douhua/tào phớ)

Tofu Pudding – This dessert features very soft tofu served with a sweet ginger syrup. It’s incredibly smooth, with a melt-in-your-mouth texture offering a satisfying way to end a meal. this dish is actually made directly from soy milk, which coagulates to form the pudding. You may also call it soy milk pudding.

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