Chili Sauce Tofu & Broccoli

Crispy pan-fried tofu and tender broccoli coated in a spicy chili sauce. Serve with rice for a quick & easy healthy plant-based meal!

This chili sauce tofu is a spin-off of a Japanese chili sauce shrimp dish, called ebi chili (ebi means shrimp in Japanese) — which is actually a spin-off from Chinese cuisine. I used to eat this a lot growing up and decided it was time to make a plant-based version. We start off with regular ol’ tofu and pan-fry it to get it crispy on the edges, then coat it in a sweet and spicy garlic chili sauce. The broccoli is technically optional; I just added it so I wouldn’t have to cook a separate veggie dish, plus I love adding broccoli to my stir fries. This is a simple, healthy dish that pairs perfectly with steamed rice for a quick weeknight meal. Ready? Let’s get started.

ingredients & substitutions

This chili sauce tofu & broccoli requires 13 ingredients:

  • chili bean sauce (Doubanjiang): This is where all the heat comes from. In a pinch, I’ve also used black bean sauce mixed with chili flakes.
  • ketchup: The sweetness of the ketchup cuts the spiciness of the chili bean sauce.
  • kombu dashi: Traditionally chicken stock is used, but to keep it vegan I’m using kombu dashi. You could also use vegetable broth. To make kombu dashi you can either use instant dashi granules or soak kombu in water for 2-3 hours.
  • garlic & ginger: These are the aromatics that give a lot of flavor to the sauce.
  • sake: Just a little bit for deeper flavor.
  • sugar: Also helps cut the spiciness.
  • corn starch: Thickens the sauce.
  • rice vinegar: I like to add some at the end before serving for a little tangy flavor.
  • firm tofu: Pan fry first to get the edges crispy.
  • broccoli: Technically you can omit, but I love broccoli.
  • green onion: For flavor and color.
  • sesame oil: For that wonderful Asian flavor.
  • You’ll also need some pantry staples such as salt, pepper, and neutral cooking oil.

how to make chili sauce tofu

  1. First, press the tofu to get rid of excess water. Pat dry and heat oil in a pan. Fry tofu until crisp and golden on all sides, turning as needed. Remove from pan and set aside when done.
  2. Meanwhile, steam broccoli until crisp-tender. You will be cooking it a bit more in the sauce later, so you don’t want it to be too soft yet.
  3. Prepare the chili sauce by combining oil, garlic, ginger, chili bean sauce, and ketchup in the pan over low heat. Add in a little water as needed to thin the sauce. Stir constantly.
  4. Once fragrant, add in dashi, sake, and sugar. Simmer for a few minutes, then add tofu, broccoli, and green onions. Stir to coat, then add corn starch slurry. Continue stirring until the sauce has thickened, then turn off the heat.
  5. Taste and add salt/pepper if needed. Drizzle sesame oil and rice vinegar on top.

cooking tips

how to press tofu

If you don’t have a tofu press, you can wrap the tofu in a kitchen towel or paper towel, place in between 2 plates, and place a heavy object (such as a bowl or cutting board) on top of the top plate. Let the tofu sit for at least 30 minutes. Make sure the bottom plate has a rim so the water released from the tofu doesn’t spill over.

If you don’t have time to press the tofu, you can technically skip this step but the tofu will not be as flavorful. To quickly remove some of the moisture, microwave the tofu on a plate for 1-2 minutes. Drain the water leftover on the plate.

how to make kombu dashi

Kombu dashi powder can usually be found in a Japanese/Asian grocery store, or online. If you can’t find the powder you can make your own dashi from kombu and water (follow this guide from Just One Cookbook) and use this liquid to replace the water + dashi powder called for in the recipe. If you can’t get your hands on kombu, replace with vegetable broth.

don’t skip the oil

The oil makes the tofu crispy, and sesame oil adds great flavor to Asian dishes.

you don’t really need the broccoli

For a saucier dish, you can use just 1/2 head of broccoli or omit it entirely.

how to serve chili sauce tofu

Serve with a big bowl of steamed rice. You could try other grains, such as quinoa, if rice isn’t your thing, but personally I would only eat this with rice. I’m a rice girl ♡

helpful kitchen tools

still hungry?

Check out these other tofu recipes!

I hope I’ve inspired you give this recipe a try! If you do try it out, don’t forget to tag me in your photos on instagram @ellielikes.cooking and/or leave a comment down below and let me know how you liked it! I love seeing you recreate my recipes in your own kitchen 🙂 Happy cooking!

Chili Sauce Tofu & Broccoli

Crispy pan-fried tofu and tender broccoli coated in a spicy chili sauce. Serve with rice for a quick & easy healthy plant-based meal!
Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time25 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Japanese, Vegan
Servings: 4

Ingredients

  • 14 oz block firm tofu pressed
  • 1 small head of broccoli cut into florets
  • 2 green onions chopped
  • 1 tbsp garlic minced
  • 1 ½ tbsp ginger minced
  • 1-2 tbsp chili bean sauce*
  • 3 tbsp ketchup
  • ½ cup kombu dashi or vegetable broth
  • 1 tbsp sake
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 2 tbsp corn starch
  • 2 tbsp water
  • 1 tsp rice vinegar
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 2 tbsp neutral cooking oil divided
  • salt & pepper to taste

Instructions

  • Press the tofu to get rid of excess water. Pat dry and cut to desired size/shape. Heat half of the cooking oil in a pan. Fry tofu until crisp and golden on all sides, turning as needed. Remove from pan and set aside when done.
  • Meanwhile, steam broccoli until crisp-tender. You will be cooking it a bit more in the sauce later, so you don't want it to be too soft yet. Set aside.
  • Mix together corn starch and water to make a slurry and set aside.
  • Prepare the chili sauce by combining remaining cooking oil, garlic, ginger, chili bean sauce, and ketchup in the pan over low heat. Add in a little water as needed to thin the sauce. Stir constantly.
  • Once fragrant, add in dashi, sake, and sugar. Simmer for a few minutes, then add tofu, broccoli, and green onions. Stir to coat. Give the corn starch slurry a quick mix and add to the pan. Continue stirring until the sauce has thickened, then turn off the heat.
  • Taste and add salt/pepper if needed. Drizzle sesame oil and rice vinegar on top.

Notes

*Adjust to desired level of spiciness. 

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