Tofu Recipes Around the World

Tofu is likely one of the common pantry items found in a Chinoy household. Some might not like it because of how bland it is, but its blandness is what makes it such a versatile ingredient. It’s pretty much a blank canvas, and when cooked right, it can essentially absorb any flavor like a sponge. It can be used in stir-fry dishes, serve as meat substitutes, and can even be incorporated into dessert. There are always new ways to enjoy tofu, and even though it originated from China, it has since become a staple ingredient in many different cuisines. So if you’re on the lookout for new recipes to try or if you want to give tofu another chance, here are 6 tofu recipes around the world.

Mapo Tofu (China)

Photo From Serious Eats

Mapo tofu is arguably one of the best tofu recipes out there, which is understandable, since no one can do it better than the country that invented tofu. Mapo Tofu originated from Sichuan province, and it is typically made with cubed soft tofu, ground beef, and a spicy sauce that consists of doubanjiang or fermented chili blackbean paste and Sichuan peppercorns, which gives the dish a numbing kind of spice. The world “Ma” (麻) means “pock marks” while “Po” comes from 婆婆, which means “grandma,” and this explains why the dish is sometimes hilariously translated to“pock-marked grandma’s beancurd.” There are also many versions of Mapo Tofu. In Japan, it’s made with miso and mirin and is typically less spicy, while in Korea, it contains gochujang instead of doubanjiang.

Agedashi Tofu (Japan)

Photo from Just One Cookbook

When you hear “Japanese tofu dish,” the first thing you would think of would probably be miso soup, but Japan has many other tofu recipes that deserve some recognition, one of which is Agedashi Tofu. It’s a side dish that consists of soft tofu that is coated in potato starch and deep fried. It is then drenched in a sauce made with dashi, soy sauce, and mirin (typically referred to as Tsuyu sauce), and topped with daikon radish, green onion, and bonito flakes. It’s a deceptively simple dish, but it packs a lot of flavor.

Sundubu-jjigae (Korea)

Photo from The Mini Chef

Sundubu-jjigae, meaning “soft-tofu stew,” is one of the many heavenly stews that Korea is known for. It might seem complicated to make at first glance, but it’s actually a very flexible dish that can be made with any ingredients available in your fridge. The only non-negotiables are the soup base, which is made with either gochujang (fermented red pepper paste) or gochugaru (Korean pepper flakes) and soft tofu because that’s what makes it Sundubu-jjigae. Other than that, you can add anything you want into the soup, but the most common ingredients are mushrooms (either shitake or enoki), onions, zucchini, clams, shrimp, and sometimes ground beef or pork belly.

Martabak Tahu (Indonesia)

Photo from sajiansedap

If you’re a crepe-lover and want to try it in a different form, Martabak Tahu is Indonesia’s version of a savory crepe. It’s a popular street food that’s made with spring roll wrappers, stuffed with crumbled firm tofu, eggs, onions, chili, and corned beef ( you can skip the meat if you want it to be vegetarian-friendly). It can then be pan fried for a crepe-like finish on the skin, or it can be deep fried, which almost makes it resemble Lumpiang Shanghai. It is often served with a sweet chili sauce.

Awara (Nigeria)

Screenshot from Beryl Shereshewsky’s “Tofu Recipes From 5 Countries” video on YouTube

Awara comes all the way from Northern Nigeria, and it’s fascinating to see an ingredient that originated from China become a household staple in a country so geographically distant and culturally different. Awara looks like a typical stir-fried dish that you can find at a Chinese restaurant, but the ingredients vary greatly. First, the tofu is battered in an egg mixture before it’s pan-fried, and then it will be stir-fried together with bell peppers and onions. It does not contain soy sauce or oyster sauce like you would expect, but instead it is sprinkled with Maggi seasoning cubes. It might seem like another simple dish, but the Maggi seasoning turns it into a flavor bomb.

Tofu Scramble (USA)

Photo from Mindful Avocado

If you’re thinking of going vegan but can’t imagine giving up eggs or if you’re just finding ways to cut down animal products from your diet, then you might want to try tofu scramble. It’s relatively easy to make. All you have to do is to dry a block of silken tofu using paper towels and crumble it straight into the pan (you can use soft tofu if you prefer the curds to be a bit more firm). Then add salt, black pepper, a teaspoon of turmeric powder, which makes the tofu yellow and also lends it an “eggy” flavor, and any vegetable of choice. And there you have it, breakfast is served!

For all the tofu lovers out there, have you tried all these recipes yet? And for the tofu skeptics, have you been converted yet?

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