Ready to serve hot in less than 30 minutes, this easy Mongolian tofu is a delicious option for a quick weekday or weeknight meal. This recipe is inspired by the popular Mongolian beef stir-fry, using crispy, seasoned tofu and a sweet and salty sauce that will make you want to lick your fingers!
If you thought that tofu was just a bland, flavorless, and boring source of protein, think again! There are countless ways to marinate and serve tofu that will have your taste buds dancing. If the thought of flavor-packed, crispy tofu sounds good, you will surely love our hoisin tofu, sticky baked harissa tofu, and baked chili miso tofu bites.
What to expect?
Believe it or not, Mongolian tofu has nothing to do with Mongolia! On the contrary, it is the vegan version of Mongolian beef, a popular Taiwanese dish commonly served with scallions and vegetables and served over rice or noodles.
In this easy Mongolian tofu recipe, we take firm tofu, hand-shred it, toss it in a sweet and savory sauce, and then pan-fry it to crispy perfection. The torn edges help to make the tofu even crispier, providing the perfect amount of crunch when you sink your teeth into it. It is a simple and easy-to-follow recipe, requiring just 10 minutes of prep time and 15 minutes of cooking time.
The ingredients to make vegan Mongolian tofu are quite simple and do not require that you go out of your way to find them. We have even provided a few alternatives to make it more accessible to everyone!
- Firm tofu – You can also use extra firm tofu.
- Soy sauce – For a gluten-free alternative, use tamari sauce.
- Vegetable oil – Sesame oil is another option.
- Corn starch – You can use tapioca starch as an alternative.
- Water – You will need lukewarm water for the sauce.
- Cane sugar
- Ginger (minced)
- Garlic cloves
- Sriracha – Any other chili paste works just as well.
- Scallions (chopped) – Optional; to top the tofu. You can also use green onions.
- Sesame seeds – Optional; to top the tofu.
🛒 You can find detailed measurements for all ingredients in the printable version of the recipe card at the bottom of this post.
Making Mongolian tofu
- Using your fingers, slowly and gently tear apart the tofu. You can do so by tearing them in half or by tearing off large pieces and then tearing them into bite-size tofu pieces.
- Peel and mince the garlic cloves and ginger.
- Pour the soy sauce over the tofu piece and stir gently, taking care not to break the tofu. Let the tofu rest for a couple of minutes, then drain any excess soy sauce.
- Add two tablespoons of cornstarch and evenly mix it with the sauce, again taking care not to break the tofu.
- In a pan, heat three tablespoons of vegetable oil. Once it is hot, add the tofu and fry each side for 2-3 minutes. Once fried, move them to a paper towel to absorb the excess oil.
- Heat the remaining tablespoon of vegetable oil over medium heat in a separate pan, then add the minced garlic and ginger. Consistently stir for 1-2 minutes, ensuring it does not burn.
- Add the soy sauce, ¼ cup of lukewarm water, sriracha, and sugar. Stir the mixture well and bring it to a boil.
- In a separate bowl, combine one tablespoon of cornstarch with three tablespoons of water, then add it to the soy sauce mixture. Stir constantly until the sauce thickens.
- Add the fried tofu pieces and evenly coat them with the sauce. Serve them hot.
- Coat the tofu while the Mongolian sauce is still hot – The sauce sticks to the tofu more evenly when hot versus when it is cold. If the sauce cools, reheat it in a pot over medium heat. Avoid high heat; it can alter the cornstarch and thin out the sauce.
- Do not overcrowd the pan – Adding too much tofu to the hot oil at once will lower the oil’s temperature, requiring more cooking time. While waiting for the oil to return to the right temperature, the tofu will continue to soak up the oil. If the intensity of the sizzling slows down or stops altogether, you have likely added too much to the pan.
- Coat the tofu in batches – When adding the fried tofu to the sauce, coat them on a per-serving basis, especially if the pan is not large enough to cover them all evenly. We recommend adding one serving of sauce to a warm skillet or pan, then tossing it well with one serving of the fried tofu.
In this recipe, we use hand-shredded tofu, mix it in the sauce, then pan-fry it. However, there are many different ways to prepare and cook your tofu. Here are a few variations you can try:
- Different preparation methods – Instead of hand-shredding your tofu, you can make tofu steak, thin-sliced tofu, or cut your tofu into cubes or triangles. Find more techniques in our list of 10 ways to prepare tofu.
- Different cooking methods – There are a few alternative ways to make crispy tofu, including air-fried, baked, and deep-fried. See our guide on making crispy tofu for the pros and cons of each method. For even more cooking methods, refer to our guide with 11 ways to cook tofu.
- Different marinated tofu recipes – There are countless ways to marinate your tofu. Our marinated tofu favorites are harissa tofu, teriyaki tofu, and chili miso tofu. You can find even more ideas in our list of tofu marinade recipes.
Once your tofu is seasoned, fried, and coated, the next step is figuring out what to serve it with! Here are several delicious serving ideas for your Mongolian tofu:
- With vegetables – This dish pairs great with stir-fried broccoli, yellow or red bell peppers, yellow onion, or green beans. You can also try it alongside our roasted asparagus and mushrooms, sauteed julienned carrot, or roasted cauliflower.
- With grains – Serve over steamed or fried rice, brown rice, quinoa, buckwheat, or cauliflower rice.
- With noodles – Serve it with a side of noodles of your choice. Try it with our miso soba noodles or Thai glass noodle salad.
- With a salad – A fresh and crisp green salad is a nutritious side to serve with Mongolian tofu.
- With heat – If you like heat, sprinkle on some cayenne pepper or red pepper flakes.
Crispy, sticky Mongolian tofu is best served fresh and hot on the same day. However, in case you have leftovers, here is the best way to store and save it for later:
In the refrigerator: Once cooled, store the leftover tofu in an airtight container in the fridge for up to three days. For the crunchiest texture, use it within 24 hours, as it will become dry and soggy over time.
In the freezer: Although it is okay to freeze tofu before cooking it to achieve a “meaty” texture, we do not recommend freezing it after cooking it.
Reheating: To maintain a crispy texture, reheat marinated tofu on a baking sheet in the oven or a toaster oven. We do not recommend reheating it in a microwave.
You can prepare the sauce in advance and freeze it until you are ready to use it. Once the sauce is cooled, store it in an airtight container and place it in the refrigerator for 1-2 weeks or in the freezer for up to three months. When ready to use it, reheat it on the stove over low heat, stirring frequently.
The cornstarch coating is not necessary. However, it helps the seasonings to stick more, helps prevent dryness, and adds to the tofu’s crunchy texture. If you do not have cornstarch, you can use tapioca flour or arrowroot starch as an alternative.
You can marinate the tofu in the sauce overnight, but we do not recommend adding the cornstarch coating until the day you plan to cook it.
More marinated tofu recipes
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- Use a firm tofu and press it.
- Use your fingers and tear the tofu slowly and gently. You can tear them first in half or tear off larger pieces, then create bite-size tofu at the end.
- Peel and mince garlic and ginger.
Marinating and frying
- Pour 2 Tbsp soy sauce on tofu pieces. Stir gently not to break the tofu. Let them rest for a couple of minutes. Drain any excess soy sauce.
- Add 2 Tbsp cornstarch and mix it evenly; again, try not to break the tofu.
- In a pan heat up 3 Tbsp vegetable oil. Once it is hot, add tofu pieces. Fry each side for 2-3 minutes. Once ready take them out to a paper towel to absorb excess oil.
Making Mongolian tofu
- In a pan add 1 Tbsp vegetable oil. On medium heat add minced garlic and ginger. Stir constantly for 1-2 minutes. Make sure it doesn’t burn.
- Add soy sauce, ¼ cup water, sriracha and sugar. Stir well and bring it to a boil.
- Combine 1 Tbsp cornstarch with 3 Tbsp water. Then, add it to the sauce. Stir constantly until it thickens.
- Add in the fried tofu and coat them with the sauce evenly.
- Sprinkle some chopped scallions and sesame seeds on top.