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This easy vegan chili garlic tofu is made with extra-firm tofu, seared brussels sprouts and a sweet and spicy sauce. Serve with rice or cauliflower rice!
Who else here absolutely loves brussels sprouts?
Every single one of you? That’s what I thought.
We love honey balsamic brussels sprouts, shaved brussels sprouts (in a salad!), brussels sprouts gratin, and roasted and tossed with apple cider vinegar.
Give me brussels sprouts in all the things!
Recently, I’ve been eating this chili garlic tofu with brussels sprouts on repeat. It’s a little bit spicy, a little bit sweet, with just a hint of bitter from the sprouts.
Want more bitter green vegetables in your life? Try a brussels sprouts and persimmon salad, salmon kale salad, air fryer kale chips, arugula and roasted grape pizza and an arugula smoothie.
What Does Tofu Taste Like?
Tofu has a very mild flavor.
Basically, tofu tastes like whatever it’s cooked with. In this recipe, we’ll be tossing the tofu in an easy, homemade chili garlic sauce.
Where to Buy Tofu (+ What Kind)
Tofu is usually sold in the refrigerated produce area in the grocery store.
You’ll likely see two kinds: silken and extra-firm. Some stores might have even more kinds, like extra-silken.
You need extra-firm tofu for this recipe.
Silken tofu is great for soups (like this vegan kimchi soup or this seafood kimchi soup), but it will not work in this recipe.
How to Press Tofu
You’ll need to press liquid out of the tofu before cooking it. Pressing tofu helps make it easier to crisp up in the pan!
If you eat a lot of tofu, you may want to invest in a tofu press.
Otherwise, you can simply wrap the tofu in a towel, set it on a plate, and then press it with something heavy (like a heavy bowl).
Homemade Chili Garlic Sauce
To make the tofu taste AMAZING, whisk together the chili garlic sauce ingredients. I like to do this part while pressing the tofu.
You’ll need rice vinegar, minced garlic, grated ginger, maple syrup, soy sauce, sesame oil and sambal oelek (red chili paste). I usually buy Huy Fong Sambal Oelek.
Simply whisk together the sauce ingredients and set them aside.
How to Prepare the Brussels Sprouts
Thinly slice all your brussels sprouts, discarding the woody ends.
Optionally, peel off the outer leaves and leave those whole.
How to Make Chili Garlic Tofu
Start by cubing the (already pressed) tofu.
Next, toss the tofu with a little cornstarch.
The cornstarch is going to help the tofu get nice and crispy in the pan.
Add the tofu in a single layer to a large, heavy pan. I use this Lodge 12″ carbon steel skillet.
Cook the tofu in oil for a few minutes without stirring. If you try to toss the tofu at this point, it will probably fall apart.
Once the bottom of the tofu cubes gets crispy, toss the tofu and cook for a few more minutes.
You want the tofu to be lightly toasted. It won’t be golden yet, so don’t worry if it looks too light!
Once the tofu is toasted, remove it from the pan.
Add the brussels sprouts and cook them until they start to blacken.
Add the toasted tofu back into the pan with the brussels sprouts. Top the tofu and veggies with the homemade chili garlic sauce and toss it all together.
Keep cooking until the tofu is golden and crispy.
I like to scoop the tofu and brussels sprouts onto Instant Pot jasmine rice, but cauliflower rice works perfectly too for a low-carb side.
Serve this veggie dish while everything is still hot, along with rice (or not!), and enjoy!
Chili Garlic Tofu with Brussels Sprouts
- large heavy skillet (12-inch minimum)
Seared Tofu + Brussels Sprouts:
- 15 ounce block extra-firm tofu Use certified gluten-free if needed
- ⅛ cup cornstarch, plus more if needed
- 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
- ½ pound Brussels sprouts
- jasmine rice or cauliflower rice (to serve, optional)
Chili Garlic Sauce:
- ¼ cup rice vinegar
- 3 garlic cloves, finely minced
- 2 teaspoons grated ginger
- 1 tablespoon sambal oelek (red chili paste) Use 2 tablespoons for more heat
- 1 tablespoon maple syrup
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce Use certified gluten-free if needed, or swap gluten-free tamari or coconut aminos
- 2 teaspoons sesame oil
- ½ teaspoon red chili flakes (optional, for heat)
- If serving with rice, begin preparing rice according to package directions.Wrap the tofu in a towel, set on a plate, and press for at least 10 minutes. (Use a tofu press or place a heavy dish or pan over the tofu.) If pressing the tofu longer than 10 minutes, press in the refrigerator.Thinly slice the Brussels sprouts, discarding the woody ends.Add all the sauce ingredients to a bowl and whisk together.
Cook the Tofu:
- Cube the tofu into ½-inch cubes.Add to a bowl with the cornstarch and toss to coat. If your tofu is still slightly wet, you may need more cornstarch.
- Add 1 tablespoon olive oil to a large, heavy pan. (Use 12" or larger.)Heat oil over medium heat. When the oil begins to shimmer, add the tofu in a single layer. Cook 3-4 minutes without touching the tofu, and then cook 3-4 minutes more, tossing occasionally, until the tofu is toasted on all sides.Remove the tofu from the pan and set aside for later.
Finish with Brussels Sprouts + Sauce:
- Add the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil to the pan.Add the brussels sprouts and cook, tossing occasionally, until the sprouts begin to blacken (about 3 minutes).
- Add the tofu and the sauce to the pan. Toss about 2 more minutes, until the tofu is golden. Serve immediately. If desired, serve with rice (or cauliflower rice).
Thanks for recommending the tofu press! Didn’t even though they made those. Can’t wait to try this recipe.
They’re neat right?! No prob, hope you enjoy!
When do you add the sauce?
Hello! You add the sauce near the end; it’s in the recipe card under “Finish with Brussels Sprouts and Sauce.”
Hope that helps!
-Alisha at Champagne Tastes
I loved the texture of the tofu before mixing with the sauce! A tad too much vinegar for my taste, but will be riffing on this recipe in the future. This took me about 50 minutes to put together, including prep.