double cooked tofu

notes :: steamed and fried goodness

one day i walked into an unfamiliar chinese restaurant and ordered szechuan tofu. the nice lady behind the counter asked me if i wanted it steamed, fried… or both. at that moment my mind was blown. and the idea of double cooked tofu was born. it’s a simple recipe for anyone new to cooking tofu. this article is meant to teach you how to cook tofu, not flavor it. tofu is known for taking on the tastes of whatever it’s cooked with. after cooking the tofu in this method you can coat or sauté it in a sauce of your choice, or eat it plain. 

things needed:
1 block of tofu (i prefer firm or extra firm)
vegetable oil
frying pan
paper towels
tongs (or metal slotted spoon)
oven mitt


tofu comes packages in ‘water’. but it’s gross bean flavored water. the first step in preparing tofu is pressing this water out of your block of tofu. this step is necessary in *any method* of preparing tofu. and it can be easily overlooked by a first timer.

tofu - block

start by laying out 5 or 6 pieces of paper towel on a cutting board. position the tofu in a corner.

tofu - wrapped

wrap the tofu in the paper towels. try and have the thickest part of the paper towels on the bottom to collect maximum moisture.

tofu - press

put a stack of heavy books on top of the wrapped tofu. leave them there for 3-5 minutes. repeat this process 2 or 3 times until the paper towels are dry after pressing.


the method in which you cut your tofu is really up to you. but try and keep the pieces thin and a bit large. tofu shrinks when it's fried. here's my method:

tofu - cut

start by cutting the entire block in half.

tofu - filet

evenly filet each half of the block into 3 pieces, then stack them back on top of each other.

tofu - triangles

cut your rectangle in half short-ways. then cut and 'X' into each half.


this step is the real secret to double cooked tofu. we just removed the liquid from the tofu by pressing it. now we're going to add some back and cook the center of the tofu in the process. this makes for fuller, spongyer tofu.

tofu - steamer

place your tofu pieces in the steamer. make sure they're not touching.

tofu - steaming

steam your tofu using distilled water for 15-30 minutes. (i personally only cook it for 15)

tofu - steamed

when the timer is up, open the lid and let your tofu cool for a few minutes.


now we're going to add a crispy exterior to our already steamed tofu. this will also alter the flavor of the tofu slightly depending on the type of oil you choose (e.g. vegetable, peanut, or olive oil, etc).

tofu - utensils

get a plate and cover it with 2 or 3 sheets of paper towel. this will be using the remove the oil from the tofu during the drying process.

tofu - oil

get a non-stick frying pan and fill it with vegetable oil (i enjoy the smart balance brand) deep enough to submerge the tofu in. set the heat to medium/medium-low. add 1/3 of your tofu pieces to the oil using tongs or a metal (frying safe) slotted spoon.

tofu - frying

the actual frying can be quite violent because of the water we introduced into the center of the tofu. if the bubbling is too fierce, turn down the heat.

tofu - stuck

tofu is notorious for getting suck back together when cooking. make sure your moving the pieces around while frying. they will naturally be attracted to one and other. this process with also inadvertently flip and rotate the tofu under the oil, cooking it more thoroughly.

tofu - half-done

this piece of tofu is about half done. notice the white marks.

tofu - finished

this piece of tofu is almost finished. notice the even golden color. but you can leave this in for another minute or two for increased crispness.

tofu - double-cooked

as you take the tofu out of the oil place them on the paper towels. after a minute or so flip them to remove the oil from the opposite side.

you're done!

that's it! now you can add this tofu to stir-fry, a noodle bowl, a salad, or anything else you desire. enjoy!