How to Pan-Fry Tofu with Crust is Simple | Hong Kong Food Blog with Recipes, Cooking Tips mostly of Chinese and Asian styles | Taste Hong Kong

How to Pan-Fry Tofu with Crust is Simple

How to Pan-Fry Tofu with Crust is Easy

With one table spoon of oil, we will be able to fry these tofu and yield crisp golden crusts. I did not coat it with egg, batter or any flour. It is just naked firm tofu (bean curd). A non-stick pan is neither necessary.

‘Be gentle and don’t rush’ may best describe how we are going to cook this.

The tricks are, if I have to put it in that way, simply blot dry tofu, heat pan enough, and flip tofu only when the first side is done. After frying, the pan will still look clean, also meaning that cooking could also be a graceful task.

I like pan-fried tofu cause it is always good on its own. The one you see here is served with spring onion, toasted white sesame seeds, and with some soy sauce for dipping. Be honest, I just love having tofu in my different dishes.

Tomatoes Stew with ToFu Tofu with Dried Shrimp Roes Mapo Tofu Tofu with Century Egg and Spring Onions

  • Ingredients
  • 2 pcs firm tofu, ~200g
  • 1 tbsp oil for frying
  • ~1/4 tsp salt

Salting TofuBolting Tofu Dried


Salting tofu
Slice tofu into about 1 cm thick. Sprinkle salt over both sides of tofu slices, and let them stand for about 15 minutes.

Salting tofu though not necessarily helps build a crust, it does help draw moisture and firm up the texture a little bit while seasoning the tasteless tofu . This step is recommended especially you are going to serve the fried tofu on its own.

Blot dry tofu
Moisture is both the enemy for oil and for forming a golden crust. Right before frying, blot dry tofu with clean towel or paper towel. Do not do this too early as tofu continues exudes water.

Heat pan enough
We don’t need a thermometer for measuring heat like this, because there are clues here telling us when the pan and oil are heated enough for frying the tofu.

Over medium flame, heat pan to the point when your palm, resting several cm above it, can feel the heat. Then add oil and distribute it evenly by swishing the pan.

Wait till you see some wave-lines (gentle ripples) in the oil along the edge of the pan (see the top left picture below). Turn to low flame, gently place in tofu slices. As tofu is landed to the pan, do not flip it immediately until the down side turns golden, which takes about two minutes.

Use a turner and flip to the other side and keep pan-frying, again till golden.

How to Pan-Fry Tofu with Crust is EasyHow to Pan-Fry Tofu with Crust is Easy
How to Pan-Fry Tofu with Crust is EasyHow to Pan-Fry Tofu with Crust is Easy

Serve hot or continue cooking the fried tofu with in other dishes. Say, cook it with a meat sauce, or simply to put it in a soup for further cooking… Whichever, enjoy!

When putting tofu into pan, do not throw them from height because that will cause oil to splash. Just gently land them to the pan.

Instead of measuring the salt in an exact amount, I actually sprinkle it with a grinder over both sides of the tofu slices.

How to Pan-Fry Tofu with Crust

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  1. Claire @ Claire K Creations

    That’s the only way I like tofu. I guess it would work the same if you cut it into little pieces? Thanks for the lesson.

  2. Lori

    You just made my night. I’ve not cooked with tofu at all, and I’ve just come around to enjoying it. I fell in love with the fried variety we had in SE Asia. It’s the only way I like it and now I can make it at home. Thanks!

  3. TasteHongKong

    Yes, it works for little pieces. I’d however still recommend this size cause less flips are required and it is easier to have every piece yielded the golden crust. Anyway, have fun and enjoy!

  4. Tastes of Home (Jen)

    Great tips on pan-frying tofu! I love pan-frying too although it may be a little bit more time-consuming but totally worth it 🙂

  5. TasteHongKong

    @Tastes of Home (Jen),
    Just takes a couple of minutes, though is longer than deep-frying yet uses less oil which is also healthier : ).

  6. Lia Chen

    Love the crispy crust on tofu skin. Even better with the pan-fry method. Thanks a lot for sharing the tips!

  7. tigerfish

    Always enjoy your great tips on great food! The pan-fried tofu looks perfect!

  8. pigpigscorner

    I like tofu with crispy crust too but frying tofu is a pain! The oil splatters like mad.

  9. TasteHongKong

    This is no pain : ). Blot dry tofu enough and, with low heat and minimal oil shall cause little or no splatters. Hope you will soon get a chance to enjoy this.

  10. Mei Teng

    Yummy! I love tofu dishes.

  11. Juliana

    What a perfect time…I got tofu from Costco and was wondering how to fry them as I love the crispy crust when served in restaurant…will definitely try your recipe. The pictures are awesome, very inviting…yummie! Have a great week 🙂

  12. Christine@Christine's Recipes

    Great tip! Yes, agree with you. Panfrying tofu really tests our patience. Cannot rush.

  13. babe_kl

    I always pan fry them before using it in my stir fries. Perhaps I should just served it like the way you did.

  14. mycookinghut

    I love crispy crust on tofu and this is great!

  15. penny aka jeroxie

    I seldom coat mine too. The key is to blot the tofu dry like yours.

  16. Angie's Recipes

    I always love this kind of tofu..tender yet very crisp..lovely to dip with some chilli soya sauce.

  17. noobcook

    I tried frying tofu once but the skin did not brown at all… so really grateful for your tutorial which will come in handy to me next time 🙂

  18. Alice

    It looks so golden, I shall try it! Thanks for sharing! :_

  19. mumusings

    Didn’t know that salt was the factor in making it crispy. I usually just blot dry and pan-fry it over a little oil. Just bought some tofu and will try it later:)

  20. TasteHongKong

    Salt helps draw moisture from tofu while acting as a seasoning, but not necessarily makes it crispy. Just to clarify.

  21. Life for Beginners

    ‘Be gentle and don’t rush’ – this is a good philosophy even for life and all the good things we enjoy. 🙂

  22. milkitchen

    Your tofu recipe is lovely as always. I have tried two of them so far and have cooked them for friends and family…so far I have received compliments of the dishes and nothing else. 🙂 And recently I have cooked a dish of pan fry firm tofu with sesame sauce too. My daughter loves it. The pan fry tofu without any garnishing or sauces smell really nice by itself. I am glad you are sharing this recipe. Thanks!!

  23. TasteHongKong

    Thanks for writing and keeping me informed of how you enjoy this. I bet you must have made great adaptations. Wish you enjoy more with your friends and family.
    As long as I blog here, I do hope to share more recipes on tofu, which is one of my favorite ingredients, to be honest.

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  25. Inside Nine

    I have been cooking naked pan fried tofu for years. I have always used nonstick pans and added different simmer sauces at the end for flavor . I am now moving to carbon steel and find its a whole other technique. The description here is the best. I found it worked without sticking even with soft/medium tofu. My other attempts did not. I will be playing with the flavoring sauces I used on my nonstick though I know I must be careful with anything acidic.

    It makes sense that “Taste of Hong Kong” would get it right!

  26. rubin427

    Simple, healthy, delicious, and cheap. Thank you for sharing your method!

  27. TasteHongKong

    @Inside Nine,
    Great! Happy to learn that you could even tackle the soft tofu with this.
    Best description? Thank you for your kind compliment!

    You are welcome!

  28. Lyndsey

    When would be the best time to add a little flavor? Marinate it or during cooking?

  29. TasteHongKong

    After pan-fried, accompany the tofu with a dipping sauce if you serve it on its own. That way, you would be able to enjoy the fried tofu crisp. We don’t marinate it before pan-frying; only salting, as above, is needed. In stir-fries or in stews, you may need to briefly simmer the tofu with other ingredients to infuse the flavors before adding seasonings in the last 1 to 2 minutes. Do take this as a rough guide; details highly depend on the type of ingredients that are cooked together with the tofu.
    Hope this helps.

  30. PamelaB

    This is just the recipe I was looking for! Can’t wait to try it tonight. Thank you!

  31. Lisa Mahony

    I have never been able to make fried tofu.
    I didn’t know all these little secrets. 🙂
    Your other recipes look great too.

  32. DerekB

    what type of oil should be used?

  33. TasteHongKong

    Oils good for frying will do, I usually use grape seed oil, canola oil, or sunflower oil.

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  37. Merry Wanderer

    This is wonderful! I’ve tried for months to get my tofu to come out right, this really helped me! Thank you!

  38. TasteHongKong

    @Merry Wanderer,
    Am happy to hear that this helped you, thanks for your feedback.

  39. Sunny

    Thanks for posting this. My son loves tofu like this, and I wanted to make it without deep frying it. 😉

  40. TasteHongKong

    You are welcome! Hope you and your son will soon enjoy this lighter, healthier version : ).

  41. Lauren

    thank you… thank you … thank you I can’t wait to try your method for crispy crusted tofu. I’m confident now that I can prepare a recipe with delicious fried tofu.

  42. zach

    This recipe is missing cornstarch…That makes it crispy in such a wonderful way.

  43. TasteHongKong

    Excuse me, I thought I had effected an reply to you but just noticed that it was missing here! Just want to tell you that I’d love to hear how yours had turned out.

  44. TasteHongKong

    Right, we don’t need any cornstarch for making that crust.

  45. Drake

    As I cooked the tofu, I put chili garlic sauce on it. Then I ate it with spiced vinegar. So good! 🙂

  46. Dennis

    I wish I read this BEFORE dinner. I will do this simple method next time!
    Thank you !

  47. TasteHongKong

    You hot and sour style sounds nice.

  48. TasteHongKong

    Enjoy next time!

  49. TammyB

    What is the best oil for pan frying tofu? thanks!

  50. TammyB

    Nevermind…I just reread everything and see you mentioned canola. Sorry!

  51. Catherine Cameron

    I love the pan fried tofu but the krill should be left alone for whales and other marine life.

  52. Linda S

    I am trying to incorporate tofu into my diet so I tried this naked-fry recipe. OMG, it is horrible! It looked as pretty as the picture but tasted worse than its usual tastelessness.
    This was my last hope. My dog won’t even eat it.

  53. TasteHongKong

    @Linda S,
    Yes, the fried tofu is rather tasteless, so I served it with soy sauce, sesame seeds and spring onion. And, recommended to cook it with a meat sauce, or simply to put it in a soup. Am afraid I don’t have the experience that it tastes worse after fried.

    Or, like Drake suggested, serve it with chili garlic sauce.

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  56. Ths

    This was fabulous! Thank you so much for posting this so a novice like me can do a beautiful fried tofu.

  57. TasteHongKong


  58. H

    I used to serve my fried tofu scrambled with the golden crust scraped off and sprinkled on top. 🙂 Your tips have been invaluable. I was amazed when my tofu seemed to glide in the fring pan.

  59. TasteHongKong

    Bingo, you did a great job : )!

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  61. Bobbi Ysmael

    Who are you? What’s your name? I love fried tofu just like you do. Thank you

    Bobbi Ysmael

  62. TasteHongKong

    @Bobbi Ysmael,
    This is Maureen at

  63. mochi

    thank you so much! been wanting to know how to do this for awhile and so glad to find an easy way to do it. success in first try. thank you so much tastehongkong. pls keep up good work. looking forward to trying more of your recipes. yipeee!

  64. Hema

    Thanks so much. Simple and clear and we got to enjoy great toasty tofu. Best, Hema

  65. Marilyn

    Oh, my gosh! I’ve been preparing (if you could call it that) tofu for 30yrs, and it was ALWAYS awful! Used your instructions this evening, and what a delight! It tastes GOOD! I mean, REALLY GOOD!!!
    Thank you so much!

  66. DeAndra

    Yes! This method works perfectly! Thank you so much!