Recipes/ Rice, Grains, Noodles & Pasta/ Vegetables

Crispy Tofu Fried Rice

Crispy-Tofu-Fried-Rice /

I know my Crispy Tofu Fried Rice looks loaded with more vegetables than is the norm. That’s because it’s meant to be a one-bowl meal. I love it. It has that salty umami that we love in Asian food and the added bonus of crisp-outside, juicy-inside chunks of tofu. This Crispy Tofu Fried Rice is a texture and flavour bomb, all in one bowl.

How to cook the tofu to be crisp-soft without deep frying

I used firm tofu. It’s important to drain the block of tofu of all the liquid and wrap it in a paper kitchen towel for 30 minutes. This way, all the excess water gets absorbed. Tofu is quite bland but we want it to add flavour to the Crispy Tofu Fried Rice; so we have to marinate it. Once the Tofu is dry, dice it into bite-sized cubes. Toss them in soy, cornflour and (my secret ingredient), five-spice powder, which adds a smoky, salty kick to arouse those salivary glands. You can make your own five-spice powder (see recipe card) or use store-bought. After marinating the tofu, we pan fry them in a single layer, turning every few seconds to evenly brown all sides of these juicy nuggets of umami.

Crispy-Tofu-Fried-Rice /

Get your rice right

Crispy Tofu Fried Rice, like any fried rice, is best made with day-old rice, straight from the fridge. If you don’t have leftover rice, cook some the day before and let it sit in the fridge to dry and take-on that pleasantly chewy texture we all love. Fridge-cold rice also fries really well as opposed to freshly-cooked rice, which can turn pasty and overcooked. Use any short-grained or jasmine rice.

Brighten it up with vegetables of every colour 

Colourful vegetables bring vibrance to the Crispy Tofu Fried Rice. Your eyes feast before you even take that first bite. A handful of 3-4 vegetables such as carrots, French beans, red cabbage, red and yellow peppers make this meal delicious, nutritious and pretty. Needless to say, any or all of these can be substituted by vegetables of your choice. Just make sure to cut them in the same size so that they cook evenly.

Crispy-Tofu-Fried-Rice /

As I mentioned earlier, this isn’t a traditional recipe. Most of the time I just eyeball the ingredients, adding more or less of what I’m craving at that moment. You can be completely creative with it –  add fried bacon, or green peas, or fried shallots, lemongrass for extra aroma, peanuts for a touch of Thai flavours….make it different every time if you so desire. Try this fun fried rice. It’s happiness food.


Crispy Tofu Fried Rice

A rainbow coloured fried rice with golden nuggets of crispy tofu
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 35 minutes
Course Main Course
Cuisine Chinese
Servings 2


  • 180 g cooked, fridge-cold,1-day old, short grain rice
  • 200 g firm tofu, drained and cut into 1"x1" cubes
  • 5-6 topped, tailed and diced small
  • 1 large carrot, peeled and diced small
  • ½ red bell pepper, diced small
  • ½ green bell pepper (capsicum) diced small
  • A handful red cabbage, chopped small
  • 1 spring onion, chopped small, white and green parts separated
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 1-inch piece of ginger, minced
  • 1 fresh red chilli, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp light soy
  • 2 tbsp olive or peanut oil
  • 1 tsp toasted sesame oil (optional)

Marinade for the tofu

  • ½ tbsp light soy
  • ½ tbsp dark soy
  • 1 tbsp cornflour
  • tsp five spice powder
  • ¼ tsp salt

To make five-spice powder

  • 1 tbsp Sichuan peppercorns
  • 4 star anise
  • 1 tsp cloves
  • 1 tbsp cassia bark powder (also called Chinese cinnamon)
  • 2 tbsp fennel seeds


  • To make the five spice powder, lightly toast the spices in a dry pan on low heat till fragrant. Cool and grind to a fine powder in a spice grinder.
  • To marinate the tofu, mix all the ingredients into a smooth mixture, toss the tofu cubes in it and set aside for 30 mins.
  • Heat a tbsp of oil in a pan (or wok) on medium high heat. fry the tofu cubes, in a single layer (take care not to overcrowd the pan or the tofu will stem instead of frying), turning them after a few seconds to brown on all sides. Do this in a couple of batches till all the tofu is fried. remove and set aside. You can flash fry the tofu if you're using a wok, since it is wider and has a larger surface area.
  • Heat the remaining oil in the same pan or wok till hot. Add the vegetables and fry for 4-5 minutes, stirring to prevent them from burning. The vegetables should be cooked yet crunchy without changing colour.
  • Now drop in the garlic, ginger, chilli and white parts of the spring onion. Fry for a minute till aromatic .
  • Add the rice, breaking up and lumps and fry for 2 minutes, stirring vigorously till the rice is lightly fried.
  • Add the sauces and sesame oil, followed by the fried tofu. Combine everything till it's mixed evenly. check and correct the seasoning and add the spring onion. Serve hot.

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  • Reply
    Bhargavi Ajit
    March 4, 2024 at 6:17 pm

    What an interesting recipe. Will try this weekend and let you know how it turns.
    Keep posting. Always look forward to your posts.

    • Reply
      March 18, 2024 at 12:44 pm

      Thanks Bhagi.

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