Make this easy tofu and bok choy stir-fry for a quick, healthy, and delcious meal! The tofu is super flavourful and perfectly crispy, then tossed with tender bok choy in a sticky, lightly sweet and salty sauce. Absolutely delicious served with coconut rice.
Are you an anti-tofu-er? Or maybe you aren’t thaaat anti but never had any that made you crave it? Tofu has a bad reputation for being bland and having a weird texture but when done right, it is downright addictive. Though I now have many tofu recipes that I love, this tofu stir fry with bok choy, loaded with Asian umami-flavoured ingredients, remains a huge favourite. It is the one that converted me, and all the tofu-haters I have served it to. You get substance from the tofu, freshness from the bok choy, a touch of heat from the red peppers, and some crunch from the cashews and sesame seeds. It is absolutely delicious and I love that it makes you feel very satisfied and full but not heavy.
If, like me, you under-appreciated this Asian ingredient for years, it’s time to run to your nearest health food store and grab a package, or two. This recipe is about to change your life. Once you taste tofu this way – perfectly crispy on the outside, tender and soft on the inside, drenched in a salty-spicy-sweet sauce – you will be dying to eat it again, and again. So good, I would serve it to company. So good, I could honestly eat it every day.
What Is Tofu And Is It Healthy?
Tofu is made by coagulating soy milk and pressing it into blocks. It is an excellent source of plant-based protein, iron, and calcium and has been used in traditional Chinese cuisine since ancient times. Tofu comes in different forms (extra firm, firm, soft, silken, and even smoked) and there are endless way to prepare it. It has a neutral flavour and is very spongey which makes it great for marinating and absorbing sauces.
Being a complete protein (containing all essential amino acids), tofu is a great addition to a plant-based diet. But is it healthy? For years there has been a lot of controversy surrounding processed soybean products which have been linked with hormone disruption. I, for one, avoided soy products for years. However, many studies over the years have disputed and debunked these concerns. Most, in fact, claiming that consumed in moderation, soy could actually be beneficial to our bodies. I am also a huge fan of fermented soy such as tempeh which is easier to digest.
That said, soybeans are notorious for being heavily sprayed with chemicals so I limit the amount of soy products I consume and I make sure to always buy organic, or non-GMO soybeans. This is the brand I always buy which you can find at any health food store or major supermarket.
Does Tofu Need To Be Pressed?
I used to always wrap my tofu in paper towels and place a heavy pan over it for at least 30 minutes to press out all the moisture. Now I no longer bother doing this. I like to squeeze the tofu block gently over the sink until no longer dripping. I then wrap it in paper towels, or a clean tea towel, squeeze out a little more moisture with my hands, and that’s it. Slice it, marinate it, and cook. Crispy every time.
Baked Or Fried Tofu?
For this tofu and bok choy stir-fry we are using organic tofu that is extra-firm and smooth and gets marinated with soy sauce before getting tossed with a little cornstarch. Marinating the tofu for just a few minutes helps it get really flavourful and the cornstarch helps it get crispy. I prefer to bake tofu because frying it requires quite a bit of oil and it is simply too messy for me for a weeknight dinner.
Baked tofu can be just as crispy and delicious, it just requires a little more time in the oven. I make good use of that time by prepping all the other ingredients so when the tofu comes out of the oven, the rest comes together super fast.
Do I Need A Wok?
Absolutely not. I have a wok but rarely use it. It just isn’t large enough and I find it takes long to cook the ingredients in batches. A large, well-seasoned cast iron skillet works great for stir-fries. If you don’t have a cast iron skillet, you can use a large non-stick pan.
Ingredients For Tofu And Bok Choy Stir-Fry
It doesn’t take much to make a really good Thai-style stir-fry. They should, however, always have a balance of sweet, sour, salty, spicy and bitter flavours.
- Tofu: Extra-firm tofu will get really crispy so it is best for this stir fry.
- Cornstarch: Tofu has a lot of moisture so the cornstarch helps it get crispy. You can also use arrowroot powder if you prefer.
- Fresh ginger, garlic, and scallions: These ingredients will make the stir fry explode with flavour. If you don’t have scallions, shallots are a great substitute.
- Small red chili: I don’t like this stir fry to numb my mouth with heat but I do like it spicy. Thai red chilis add great flavour and heat. 2 thinly sliced give me the perfect amount of heat. Use as little or as much as you’d like. You can also use a 1/2 a tablespoon of chili sauce such as sambal oelek, if you wish.
- Baby Bok Choy: I love using baby bok choy in stir-fries. They are very tender and juicy without the bitterness of some dark green leafy vegetables. Also known as Chinese cabbage, bok choy is low in calories and rich in good-for-you vitamins. The white parts are super crunchy which add great texture to the dish. Any variety of bok choy works. If you use a large variety of bok choy, be sure to chop it smaller so it cooks faster.
- Soy sauce: I always use a low-sodium soy sauce, or Tamari. I also like Shoyu which is a Japanese-style soy sauce. If you happen to have dark soy sauce, add 1/2 a teaspoon. It doesn’t not have much flavour but gives a lovely colour to the stir fry.
- Rice Vinegar: For a bit of tang.
- Shaoxing wine: This is a Chinese rice wine. It is a key ingredient that helps add that authentic restaurant flavour you may have found difficult to replicate at home. But no, you don’t need to make a special trip to buy this ingredient. If you don’t have it replace it with mirin, dry sherry, fish sauce, or simply use water.
- Sweetener: For the sweet component I use coconut sugar. Feel free to use cane sugar, honey, maple syrup, or any other sweetener of your choice.
- Toasted cashews and sesame seeds: These are optional but I love the bit of crunch. You can use peanuts, if you prefer.
How to Make Tofu And Bok Choy Stir-Fry
TIP: As with most stir-fry recipes, make sure to prep all the ingredients beforehand. The cooking part goes very quickly so you need to have everything ready to go. If you’re serving with a side dish, such as rice, you can make it while the tofu bakes.
Cooking the tofu and bok choy str-fry is super simple. Here is how:
- Bake the cubed, marinated tofu
- Cook the bok choy for 3 minutes, then remove it
- Add the baked and crispy tofu to the pan along with ginger, garlic, scallions, and thai chilis
- Add the sauce
- Stir in the bok choy and toss well to coat
- Serve topped with toasted cashews
Simple, delicious, fantastic, and slightly addictive!
To Serve And Store Leftovers
We love this tofu and bok choy stir-fry with coconut rice. It would also be delicious with rice noodles or quinoa.
This tofu and bok choy stir-fry will have the best texture and flavours when served immediately. That said, I am giddy when there are leftovers for lunch the next day. Leftovers are best reheated in a saucepan over medium heat, until just warmed through.
- Replace the bok choy with kale, chard, snap peas, or green beans.
- Use chicken instead of tofu.
- Add mushrooms, red peppers, broccoli, or any other vegetable that works in a stir fry.
- Add two shallots sliced thinly – a little more work but delicious!
Similar Recipes You Might Enjoy
- Quick Asian-Flavoured Beef with Rice
- Chicken and Noodle Lettuce Wraps with Nuoc Cham
- Quick Thai Green Curry with Chicken and Vegetables
If you give this Tofu and Bok Choy Stir-fry a try, please feel free to leave a comment and/or a star rating below. We appreciate and welcome all your feedback. Thank you!
Tofu And Bok Choy Stir-Fry
For the Sauce
- 3 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce (use Tamari for gluten-free)
- 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
- 2 tablespoons shaoxing wine or dry sherry
- 1 tablespoon honey or any other sweetener such as maple syrup, brown sugar, cocnut sugar, etc.
- 1 tbsp water
For the Stir-Fry
- 1 14-oz pkg extra firm tofu (*see notes)
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce (use Tamari for gluten-free)
- 1 teaspoon sesame oil
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch
- 2 tablespoons neutral-flavoured oil, divided I use avocado oil
- 1 pound baby bok choy (**see notes for cleaning)
- 1 -inch piece of ginger root, peeled and minced
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 3 green onions/scallions
- 2 red chilis, seeded and sliced thinly
- 1 cup toasted cashews or peanuts (optional)
- 2 tablespoons sesame seeds for garnish (optional)
- Whisk together all the sauce ingredients. Set aside. (***See notes if you like the stir-fry saucier)
- Preheat oven to 400ºF. Drain, pat dry, and cube the tofu. Mix 1 tablespoon soy sauce and 1 teaspoon sesame oil in a large bowl, or ziplock bag. Add the cubed tofu and toss to coat. Let sit for about 3 to 5 minutes to marinate.
- Spread the tofu out evenly onto a parchment-lined baking sheet and sprinkle the cornstarch over top, tossing it with your hands to coat evenly. Use a little more if the tofu still seems wet. Bake until edges are crispy and golden brown, flipping once, for about 20-25 minutes.
- Meanwhile, place a large skillet over medium-high heat and add 1 tablespoon of oil. Add the bok choy, and cook for about 2 to 3 minutes, or until bok choy is just tender. Transfer to a plate.
- Once tofu is ready, return the skillet to medium-low heat and add the remaing tablespoon of oil. Add the crispy tofu, ginger, garlic, scallions, and thai chilis. Cook, stirring frequently, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Stir in the soy sauce mixture into the skillet, toss for 30 seconds then add the bok choy. Toss again until everything is well coated in the sauce. Serve, topped with cashews and sesame seeds, if using.
- Trim a thin slice off the bottom core.
- Halve the baby bok choy lengthwise and place in a large bowl filled with water.
- Swish the halved heads in three changes of water.
- Spin them dry to avoid adding too much water to the pan.