This easy 10 Minute Chili Garlic Silken Tofu is a contender for my favorite tofu recipe of all time. Craving a dish that’s quick yet exceptionally flavorful? This recipe requires just a handful of simple ingredients and less than 10 minutes to make from start to finish. Whether you use this silken tofu recipe as a main or side dish, it makes for a great easy weeknight dinner.
Why You’ll Love This 10 Minute Silken Tofu
- It’s quick and easy. This recipe comes together in just a few minutes, but it’s packed with a tremendous amount of flavor!
- It’s made with simple ingredients. You only need a handful of ingredients, always of which are easy to find at your preferred supermarket. No need to travel far and wide to find speciality ingredients. (Though it’s always a good idea to support your local Asian market!)
- It’s delicious. Okay, this one should be obvious. If it wasn’t delicious, it wouldn’t be on the blog. With that being said, given how easy this recipe is, it has no right tasting this amazing! But it totally does. There have actually been times where Eric and I each eat our own block of tofu. The chili garlic sauce is that good!
- It’s a good intro to soft tofu. If you’ve never cooked with silken tofu before, this recipe is the best thing to try out for your first time!
Ingredients for Chili Garlic Silken Tofu
- Soft or silken tofu: Either variety will work great for this chili garlic tofu! Soft tofu and silken tofu have a smooth and custardy texture and a very mild flavor. Personally I prefer the refrigerated varieties of soft/silken tofu as opposed to the shelf-stable ones (such as Mori-Nu tofu). I think the flavor is a bit fresher.
- Other types of tofu such as extra-firm tofu don’t work as well in this recipe because they’re denser and have a slight tofu flavor, unlike the silken tofu. On the other hand, the soft tofu kind of melts into the chili sauce and you don’t taste any tofu-ness.
- Scallions and garlic: Green onions and garlic are both powerful aromatics that do some heavy lifting in this simple recipe. Add as much of each as you like! This is definitely a “measure with your heart” situation.
- Brown sugar: A little sweetness balances out the umami and spice in this recipe, and helps to thicken the sauce into a slightly more syrupy consistency.
- Soy sauce: This provides the umami backbone for the chili garlic sauce. You can either use regular soy sauce or a gluten-free substitute such as tamari or liquid aminos if needed.
- Rice vinegar: Vinegar adds a hint of tartness to add dimension to the sauce.
- Chili crisp: This is my secret weapon when I want to add a ton of flavor to a dish with minimal effort. If you’re unfamiliar, chili crisp is an aromatic chili oil with crispy bits of chili peppers and garlic. It is SO. GOOD.
- Toasted sesame seeds & sesame oil: Both optional, but the sesame seeds add a nice extra crunch, and together they contribute nutty flavor that is really delicious.
How to Make 10 Minute Chili Garlic Silken Tofu
This recipe comes together in a flash! There are just a few steps:
- Drain the tofu. Soft silken tofu has a high water content and will start to shed extra water as soon as it’s removed from the package.
- To avoid too much extra water leeching out onto the serving plate, you can blot it ahead of time. Flip the tofu out onto a clean, lint-free kitchen towel and let it sit for a few minutes while you prep your sauce ingredients! Luckily, you don’t need to press silken tofu like you would with regular tofu (no tofu press or paper towels in sight!). You just want to soak up a little bit of the excess liquid.
- Then just transfer it to a plate, and slice it directly on the plate into roughly 1/2″ slices. (Alternatively, you can poach your silken tofu for a saucier dish. See instructions for that in the next section!)
- Cook the sauce. Technically you can enjoy the sauce uncooked; just whisk all the ingredients together. Personally I don’t love too much raw onion and garlic in my dishes, so I like to mellow out the flavors by simmering all the sauce ingredients together over medium heat for just a few minutes. This allows also allows the sugar to fully dissolve and the sauce to thicken up just a tad.
- Plate and enjoy! You can enjoy this as cold silken tofu, or heat it up by microwaving it for 1-2 minutes or steaming it for 5 minutes (see the next section for steaming tips). Simply pour the sauce over the hot (or cold) tofu, top with some reserved spring onion, and dig in! Personally I love to serve this with steamed rice for a super simple yet satisfying meal, any time of day.
How to Steam Silken Tofu
You can easily warm up your silken tofu by microwaving it for 1-2 minutes. However, if you don’t have a microwave or prefer to use the stove, you can also steam it.
To steam, make sure your tofu is on a heat-safe plate. Place a steaming rack into a wide, shallow pan with a lid, and add about half an inch of water. Place the plate of tofu on the steaming rack. Bring the water up to a gentle simmer over medium-high heat, cover, and allow to steam for 5 minutes. Keep an eye on the pot and add extra water if needed.
Remove the pot from the heat. *Very carefully* remove the plate of tofu and pour the sauce over top. The plate will be very hot, so please be cautious!
How to Poach Silken Tofu
My favorite way to enjoy this silken tofu dish is actually poached! I cut a crosshatch pattern about 1″ deep into the surface of the tofu, then carefully lower it into a pot of gently boiling water. Reduce the heat to low and all the tofu to poach for about 5 minutes. Then use a slotted spoon or spider to carefully lift the tofu out of the water, letting extra water drain off before transferring it to a bowl.
If you poach the tofu, the resulting dish will be slightly brothy as the tofu will retain some of the boiling liquid. However, I find this quite satisfying, as it leaves some extra sauce for my steamed rice to soak up! If you prefer a dryer tofu, I recommend simply microwaving or enjoying it cold.
Our favorite way to enjoy this chili garlic silken tofu recipe is with fresh steamed white rice (jasmine rice or short-grain sushi rice are our faves) and a stir-fried vegetable of some kind.
Usually we end up just making some simple stir-fried broccoli or cabbage on the side, but vegetables like green beans or baby bok choy also go wonderfully with this dish.
Storaging and Reheating Chili Garlic Silken Tofu
Silken tofu has a delicate texture that is best enjoyed within a few hours of preparing it.
If you (somehow) have leftovers of your silken tofu, you can put them in an airtight container and pop them in the fridge for up to 3 days, but the tofu will continue to shed liquid. When you’re ready to eat, you can either microwave it or just eat it cold! Nothing like a little spicy cold tofu on a hot day.
More Tofu Recipes
- Spicy Gochujang Tofu (Korean Inspired)
- Crispy Baked Tofu
- Tofu Lettuce Wraps (Better Than PF Chang’s)
10 Minute Chili Garlic Silken Tofu
- 1 (14-16 oz) block soft or silken tofu
- 2 scallions finely sliced, white and green parts separated
- 1 tablespoon minced garlic
- 2 teaspoons brown sugar
- 3 tablespoons soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
- 1 tablespoon chili crisp
- 1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds optional
- 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil optional
Drain the Tofu
- Pour out the liquid from the tofu container, then flip the block of tofu onto a clean, lint-free kitchen towel to blot off some of the extra moisture. You can let it sit and drain on the towel while you prepare the sauce.
Prepare the Scallion Sauce
- In a small skillet, combine white parts of scallions, garlic, brown sugar, soy sauce, rice vinegar, toasted sesame seeds, and chili crisp. Heat over medium-high, stirring often, until the mixture begins to bubble.
- Let the sauce simmer for about 1-2 minutes, until sugar has dissolved. The sauce will thicken slightly. Stir in the green parts of the scallions (reserving a few to use as a garnish) and cook for about 1 more minute. Remove from heat and stir in the optional toasted sesame oil.
Plate the Tofu
- Now transfer the drained tofu to a plate and cut it into 1/2" slices. Gently fan it out on the plate. (Another fun option is to cut a crosshatch pattern about 1" deep into the surface of the tofu.)
- The silken tofu dish can be enjoyed cold or hot. To enjoy cold, simply pour the sauce over the tofu, top with the reserved green parts of the scallions, and serve!
- If you prefer to enjoy the dish hot, you can easily heat the tofu by microwaving it for 1-2 minutes. Alternatively, you can steam the tofu for 5 minutes. Place it on a heat-safe plate, then place the plate on a steaming rack in a wide, shallow pot with a small amount of water in it. Cover and steam. Be extremely careful when removing the tofu from the pan, as the plate will be very hot! Pour the sauce over the tofu, top with reserved green parts of the scallions, and serve.