You’ll love this simple stir fry that uses everyday ingredients like block tofu and carrots with red cabbage and shiitake mushrooms. It’s a 15-minutes-or-less dish to get dinner on the table quickly. Skip the chili sauce if you prefer it mild.
Brick tofu can be challenging to stir fry because it’s soft and wobbly. You can’t fry the tofu in hot oil before adding the veggies as you do in the Easy Tofu Cabbage & Mushroom Stir Fry Everybody Loves. The cubed block tofu would stick to the wok and/or break apart.
However, since brick tofu is the most common type of tofu you’ll encounter at the grocery store, it’s important to learn how to stir fry it. Luckily, it’s really easy! In this recipe, we’ll tackle the special technique of how to deal with stir frying block tofu to avoid a mushy tofu stir fry.
RELATED: Learn How to Stir Fry
How to Stir Fry Tofu Without Destroying It
Because block tofu is the most common, it’s worth learning to stir fry it correctly. Here are my tips for how I stir fry this type of tofu without my dish turning into a mushy mess.
- The trick to stir frying block tofu is to add it at the end after the vegetables are cooked: If you add the tofu after the aromatics and before the vegetables, you’ll likely break the tofu a lot from the process of tossing the vegetables. But if you don’t toss the veggies, they will burn and cook unevenly. So, I add the cubed block tofu at the end, after the vegetables and sauces. The goal is to heat the tofu before serving, not to cook it thoroughly.
- You can use baked tofu, pressed tofu, or even defrosted tofu for a firmer texture: If you like your tofu firmer and chewier, you can prep the tofu before adding it to the hot oil in the wok. This will make the tofu sturdier so it can handle more tossing before it breaks down.
- After adding the tofu, gently fold the vegetables to avoid breaking the tofu: The trick to turning the vegetables and tofu is to lift from the bottom and fold to the top, similar to how you combine beaten egg whites in cake batter.
Tips for Success
- Umami-rich ingredients are key to this dish: Because this recipe doesn’t blister the tofu in hot oil to fry it, you need to add umami-rich ingredients to make this stir fry taste good. We use dark soy sauce and shiitake mushrooms to boost the savory flavor. The chili sauce gives it an extra kick. If you want to enhance the savory flavor of this stir fry, you could add oyster sauce, tamari, or nutritional yeast.
- Add water to steam the cabbage if it’s too raw: This recipe allows more time for the cabbage to cook and the block tofu naturally releases water. However, if you find the cabbage too raw for your tastes, you can add 2 tablespoons of water to the wok and cover it with a lid. Allow the cabbage to steam until it is cooked to your preferred doneness.
- Make sure all your ingredients are chopped and ready before you heat the oil: Read How to Stir Fry to understand the process of stir frying and how to avoid burning the garlic and green onions.
How to Substitute Ingredients
This recipe uses block tofu, the most common kind of tofu, so it should be easy to find. You can substitute five-spice tofu or a firmer kind of tofu. You can also replace it with sirloin beef strips, ground beef, or boneless chicken thigh cut into cubes.
You can use any kind of cabbage, including green cabbage or Napa cabbage, if you don’t have red cabbage. Other vegetables like sliced zucchini/courgette, chopped kale, spinach, and broccolini.
Shiitake mushrooms add a lot of flavor to this stir fry, which is critical because block tofu is unflavored. If you don’t have fresh shiitake mushrooms, use button mushrooms, porcini, or oyster mushrooms.
If you hate mushrooms, add some meat because it’s rich in umami. If you’re vegan or vegetarian, you can add meat substitutes like meatless burger patties and soy-based sausages to give the dish a meaty texture and flavor.
Soy sauce is key to this dish for enhancing the umami taste. If you don’t have soy sauce, try to replace it with another umami-rich sauce rather than salt, such as nutritional yeast, tamari, oyster sauce, fish sauce, or miso paste thinned with water.
TIP: Add this tofu and cabbage stir fry to your meal planning, food inventory, and reverse shopping lists because it’s a great recipe for times when you need to cook quickly while making delicious and nutritious food.
- Chopping Board
- 8 oz. Tofu (firm or extra-firm block tofu works best)
Stir Fry Vegetables
- 1/2 head Cabbage (red or green cabbage, whole cabbage if it is small)
- 2 Carrots
- 6 Shiitake Mushrooms
- Gather the ingredients.
- Slice the cabbage, carrot, and mushrooms into similar-sized pieces.
- Cube the tofu. Keep the cubes the same size.
- Heat the wok on high heat. Add the canola oil to the wok. Once the oil begins to shimmer, add the chopped green onion and garlic to the wok. Allow the aromatics to cook until golden, about 1 minute.
- Add the sliced cabbage, carrot, and mushrooms to the wok. Toss continuously to ensure the vegetables cook evenly and don't burn. Stir until the cabbage has softened, about 4 minutes.
- Add the sriracha and dark soy sauce. Stir to mix. If you want softer cabbage, add 2 tablespoons of water and cover the wok with a lid for 2 minutes to steam.
- Add the cubed tofu to the wok. Use a spatula to toss the vegetables. Gently fold the vegetables from the bottom of the wok to the top, from the outside in. Keep an eye on it to make sure it doesn't burn.
- Remove the wok from the heat and plate the stir fry. If you want to garnish the stir fry with cilantro, roughly chop the cilantro and sprinkle over the stir fry before serving.
- Enjoy your tofu stir fry!