This simple Chilli Tofu recipe has to be one of my favourite ways to cook with tofu. It transforms the humble ingredient into something exciting and creates an explosion of flavours. It’s ideal for people who love crispy tofu but also great for the people who like a softer texture – because the tofu is coated in a delicious spice-infused batter, it’s crispy on the outside but retains the soft texture inside. Perfect!
Although tofu is traditionally widely used in Japanese and Chinese cuisines, for this dish I was inspired by an Indo-Chinese recipe for Chilli Paneer. If you haven’t heard of Indo-Chinese food before, I’m not surprised – it’s a cuisine wildly popular in India but relatively unknown elsewhere. It incorporates traditional Chinese flavours and cooking techniques into Indian food with delicious results. I thought it would be incredible to veganize this dish, as tofu goes incredibly well with East-Asian flavours. I used my incredibly easy homemade tofu for this recipe, but you can use store-bought too. The result was astounding.
In this recipe both the batter that coats the tofu and the sauce itself are heavily flavoured. The batter is light but crunchy and perfectly clings to the tofu, creating a sublime crisp. Flecks of black pepper and red chilli powder mixed through the batter give a sharp, fierce spice. And then the sauce – it’s sticky, clinging to every crispy bit of batter and coating it with flavour. Fresh minced ginger, garlic and red chillis combine with sauces perfectly caramelized to glossy perfection. Sesame seeds, julienne ginger and sliced spring onions flirtatiously sprinkled on top complete the dish.
This dish is Vegan, Gluten-Free and Nut Free!
Because the batter is made with rice flour and cornflour, it’s entirely free of gluten and makes for the lightest, crispiest batter you’ll ever taste. Do be careful to check the soy sauce ingredients for Gluten though, as some brands contain wheat. Also be sure to check the ingredients in your Chilli Sauce.
If you are interested in more Indo-Chinese style dishes, why not check out my recipe for Gobi Manchurian – a similar recipe for battered cauliflower pieces in a delicious sauce, perfect for serving over rice. Now onto the recipe…
Chilli Tofu - Indo-Chinese battered Tofu in a Spicy Batter & Sticky Sauce
- 160g Extra Firm Tofu , cubed
- 2 tbsp Rice Flour
- 2 tbsp Cornflour/Cornstarch
- 1 tsp Ginger-Garlic Paste
- 1/2 tsp Red Chilli Powder
- 1/4 tsp Ground Black Pepper
- Pinch of Salt
- 1/4 tsp Lime Juice (Lemon Juice will do too)
- 50ml Water
- Sunflower Oil, for deep frying
- 1 tbsp Sesame Oil
- 1 tbsp Sunflower Oil
- 3 Garlic Cloves, minced
- 1 tbsp Ginger, minced
- 1 Heaped tbsp fresh Red Chilli, chopped
- 40g Green Bell Pepper, cubed
- 40g White Onion, cubed
- 2 tbsp Ketchup
- 2 tbsp Hot Chilli Sauce
- 1/2 tsp Vinegar
- 2 tbsp Dark Soy Sauce
- 1/4 tsp Salt, or to taste
- 50ml Water
- Spring Onion, optional to garnish
- Sesame Seeds, optional to garnish
Cornflour Slurry Ingredients:
- 1 tsp Cornflour/Cornstarch
- 2 tsp Water
- Make a batter for the tofu. Add rice flour, cornflour, ginger-garlic paste, red chilli powder, black pepper powder, a pinch of salt and lime juice to a small bowl. Add water slowly, whisking as you go to create a smooth batter.
- Fry the tofu*. Heat sunflower oil in a large kadai or deep frying pan over medium-high heat. Once the oil is hot, dip the tofu pieces in the batter one by one and coat completely. Carefully drop into the hot oil and fry gently until golden-brown and crispy. Be careful not to overcrowd the pan or the pieces will stick together. Once done, carefully remove from the oil using a slotted spoon and drain on kitchen paper.
- Make the thickening cornflour slurry. Whisk together 1 tsp Cornflour and 2 tsp Water in a small bowl. Set aside until needed.
- Make the sauce. In a medium wok, kadai, or even non-stick frying pan, heat sesame oil and sunflower oil together over medium-high heat. Once the oil is hot add the garlic, ginger and chilli. Stir fry together quickly for a few seconds and then add the cubed bell pepper and onions. Cook for 30 seconds to 1 minute, stirring frequently, until just cooked but still with a little crunch. At this stage add the ketchup, chilli sauce, soy sauce, vinegar and salt. Mix to combine and cook for a few seconds, then add the cornflour slurry. Sitr continuously and slowly add the extra 50ml of water to the pan. The sauce will become thick but flowing and with a shine. Finally add the battered tofu to the pan and cook for 1 minute extra, coating the tofu in the sauce. Once down turn off the heat.
- Serve garnished with chopped spring onion and optionally sesame seeds.
Note: For a healthier alternative to deep frying, you can also shallow fry or saute the tofu pieces in minimal oil. It won’t create the same ultra-crispy batter coating, but will still be delicious.
How to Serve Chilli Tofu?
You can serve Chilli Tofu as an appetizer or starter and eat it directly as it is.
Alternatively, you can serve the chilli tofu on top of a bed of rice. Steamed rice, egg fried rice or vegetable fried rice all taste great here. Sticky rice is another wonderful option. Stir-fried noodles or vegetable noodles are also a wonderful accompaniment to make up a whole meal.
If you made this recipe, please let me know in the comments down below how it came out. If you have a picture to share, I would love to see it – share on any of my social media channels by messaging me or tagging @ohmyvegofficial! Likewise, if you have any doubts or questions don’t hesitate to get in contact and I will be more than happy to help you.