Teriyaki tofu recipe: The perfect flavorful & vegan-friendly dish

                by Joost Nusselder | Updated:  March 24, 2021

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When you visit a Japanese restaurant, you’ll notice many tofu dishes and vegan dishes on the menu, but one of the most beloved classics is teriyaki tofu.

In some places, silken tofu is served, and in others, the tofu is very crispy and crunchy, but both versions are delicious. The combination of sticky sauce and crunchy, chewy tofu is a favorite with kids and adults alike.

Bite-sized tofu pieces are covered in sticky teriyaki sauce and baked until crispy. This sweet and savory dish is served with steamed vegetables and rice.

Teriyaki tofu

It’s the perfect flavorful lunch or dinner and vegan-friendly too!

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Teriyaki tofu is the meatless version of the famous Teriyaki chicken, and it has similar seasonings, so you’ll taste the same crunchy sweetness with each bite.

The good news is this recipe is quick and healthy because you don’t have to fry the tofu.

I personally love teriyaki tofu when it’s crunchy, so the recipe I’m sharing is going to show you how to make yummy crispy tofu without any frying!

Teriyaki tofu

Crunchy Teriyaki Tofu Recipe

Joost Nusselder
No ratings yet
Cook Time 35 mins
Course Main Course
Cuisine Japanese
Servings 4 people

Ingredients
  

For tofu:

  • 1 package of firm tofu drain, press, and cut into small 1-inch cubes
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 tbsp cornstarch
  • ¼ tsp black pepper

For sauce:

  • 5 tbsp soy sauce
  • ¼ cup of water
  • 2 tbsp rice vinegar
  • 3 tbsp brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp mirin
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 1 tsp ginger freshly grated
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 tbsp cornstarch

For garnish:

  • 1 tbsp sesame seeds

Instructions
 

  • Start by preheating the oven to 400 degrees F.
  • Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  • Cut up the tofu into 1-inch pieces and place them in a medium bowl. Coat with soy sauce, oil, cornstarch, and pepper. Mix well.
  • Place the tofu pieces on the baking tray and spread them out, so they’re not touching.
  • Bake for 15 minutes, turn the pieces around and bake for another 15-20 minutes until the tofu pieces are browned. They should be crispy, too, at this point.
  • Prepare the sauce. Grab a saucepan and put it on medium heat. Add the soy sauce, water, rice vinegar, sugar, mirin, oil, ginger, and garlic. Wait until it starts to simmer, then turn down the heat to low and let the sauce simmer for 10 minutes.
  • Now it’s time to make the sauce thicker. In a small bowl, mix the cornstarch with 2 tbsp of cold water and pour into the sauce. Stir and let it simmer for another minute.
  • Add in the tofu pieces and mix well. Remove from heat.
  • Garnish with sesame seeds, and the dish is ready to serve.

Notes

Cooking tip: Don’t skip on the cornstarch. This ingredient helps coat the tofu, which makes the sauce thicker and stickier. Without it, the teriyaki sauce might melt off the tofu, which is less than ideal.
Keyword Teriyaki, Tofu
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How to store teriyaki tofu for meal prep

You can store the tofu in the fridge for three days and reheat it in the microwave.

You should not store this dish in the freezer because it loses the texture and goes all mushy once thawed.

You can store the tofu in separate containers for meal prep, away from the rice and vegetables. Otherwise, the tofu becomes mushy and sticks to the other ingredients.

I usually keep the tofu in smaller plastic or glass containers, and then in the morning, before I want to have the tofu, I assemble it with rice and broccoli or other veggies.

Teriyaki tofu: nutritional information

1 serving of teriyaki tofu (without rice and vegetables) contains:

Teriyaki tofu is high in calcium (160mg), iron (2.2 mg), and fiber (1.195 g).

Tofu is a healthy source of protein with a bland and slightly tangy flavor. It contains nine essential amino acids as well as the following vitamins and minerals:

You can make teriyaki healthier depending on what you pair it with when serving. If you’re on a diet or weight plan, skip rice or noodles and have a salad or steamed vegetables only.

Low-calorie side dishes like cauliflower rice and quinoa are all great options to balance out the high-sodium content of teriyaki sauce.

Teriyaki tofu recipe variations

This recipe is vegetarian and vegan-friendly.

The recipe is NOT gluten-free. Suppose you want to make it gluten-free, substitute tamari for soy sauce. It has a similar flavor but doesn’t contain gluten. If you can’t find tamari, you can use coconut aminos or liquid soy.

To reduce the high sodium content of this dish, use low-sodium soy sauce. However, even with low sodium soy sauce, this dish still contains a lot of salt.

You can swap brown sugar with maple syrup or honey. However, don’t use white sugar because it doesn’t have the same sticky caramelized texture as brown sugar.

Mirin is a Japanese alcoholic cooking wine. You can substitute it with sake or sherry.

If you want to make the tofu even crispier, you can cook the tofu in a pan on the stovetop. With this method, you sear and fry the tofu in oil until it starts to burn and caramelize in the pan, but the flavor is amazing.

The tofu should cook for approximately 10 minutes, and you must turn each piece over once after 5 minutes.

The classic topping for teriyaki tofu is sesame seeds, but you can also use black sesame seeds, green onions, or Japanese parsley and cilantro.

How to serve teriyaki tofu + what to pair it with

I recommend serving teriyaki tofu with cooked white or brown rice and steamed broccoli. This combination is a Japanese favorite.

However, you can steam carrots, cauliflower, green beans, or snap peas if you want.

You can skip the rice for a healthier meal and enjoy this tofu with cauliflower rice, buckwheat, or quinoa. Check out our post about the best rice substitutes.

Simply place the tofu on a plate beside rice and vegetables, or plate it in bowls (Japanese style). Serve hot while the tofu maintains its crunchiness.

What is teriyaki tofu?

Teriyaki tofu is a simple recipe made by baking (or frying) tofu pieces and then smothering them in sweet and savory teriyaki sauce.

The sticky tofu is then sprinkled with sesame seeds. It resembles chicken in texture but retains the refreshing, light flavors of tofu.

It’s the kind of recipe that doesn’t require too many ingredients and makes a good dish you can combine with rice and steamed veggies.

Usually, teriyaki tofu is a popular meal choice for vegetarians and vegans when dining out. Like meat, tofu is a great source of protein and quite a filling food, so a serving of teriyaki tofu with rice and veggies is a complete meal.

Japanese cuisine is known for umami (savory) flavored dishes, and teriyaki tofu is no exception. It has a sweet flavor from the teriyaki, saltiness from soy sauce, and then the tangy yet bland taste of tofu all combine to make this dish “umami.”

If you’re cooking this dish at home, it’s excellent for meal prepping because you can make a big batch and store it in the fridge.

Then, once you’re ready to serve, simply mix the tofu with rice and veggies.

Also read: Miso vs Tofu: how they’re made, differ, and how to use them

Origin of teriyaki tofu

No one can really say much about the exact origin of teriyaki tofu. Sure, there are many teriyaki dishes, such as teriyaki chicken, beef, and pork.

Yet, we don’t know much about teriyaki tofu. I’m guessing vegetarians wanted to enjoy a flavorful meal, similar to the chicken teriyaki but without the guilt.

Many people believe that teriyaki came to America with Japanese immigrants living in Hawaii. Teriyaki was made using local Hawaiian ingredients, and it underwent some changes.

Soy sauce was mixed with local fruits like pineapples and combined with brown sugar. The flavor closely resembled what we call “teriyaki” sauce these days.

But some people say America’s love for Teriyaki is all due to Korean immigrants who brought this delicious sauce with them.

Who knows the real origins? The important thing to note is that teriyaki tofu became an instant classic and is still enjoyed by foodies worldwide.

Takeaway

When you’re craving vegan Asian food, teriyaki tofu is one of the best crunchy and healthy foods.

Most sauce-heavy dishes can make you feel bloated, but tofu is a good plant-based protein, so you don’t feel heavy as if you’re eating meat. And even if you’re not vegan, this dish is perfect for meatless Monday and meal prepping.

It’s just so delicious and easy to make; it’ll surely end up in your recipe collection.

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Joost Nusselder, the founder of Bite My Bun is a content marketer, dad and loves trying out new food with Japanese food at the heart of his passion, and together with his team he's been creating in-depth blog articles since 2016 to help loyal readers with recipes and cooking tips.