This simple bok choy tofu stir fry is easy and quick to make, but shockingly packed with amazing flavor. You will love the combination of crunchy bok choy with crispy (yet tender) pieces of tofu tossed in a sweet and savory teriyaki sauce. Completely vegan, high-in-protein and can be done under 30 minutes. Makes for such a perfect weeknight dinner that's healthy and easy to customize!
I cannot wait for you guys to try this simple vegan bok choy tofu stir fry! We crave this meal all the time now that I made it for the blog.
The way the tofu is cooked is incredibly easy, but SO perfect for this Asian saucy dish: first slightly breaded with cornstarch, then sautéed in the pan until crispy and golden brown. The tofu remains soft and puffy inside, yet surrounded by a nice crunchy little shell. So good. And so uncomplicated, I promise!
Since we LOVE bok choy, I had to include this amazingly good-for-you cruciferous in this recipe too. Compared to my healthy vegetable stir-fry, this version is simpler with a focus kept on this single veggie. But wow, the crunchiness from the bok choy is highly addictive and such a superstar here.
And yet, the sticky teriyaki sauce might be the best part! The sauce combines simple ingredients you probably already have and is super quick to whisk together. It is lightly sweet with a good punch of Asian umami flavor that thickens and coats the ingredients just so perfectly. You can make the sauce while the tofu and veggies are cooking, so this meal really is feasible -start to finish- under 30 minutes.
Not only is it quick, but also fairly high in plant-based protein to keep you nicely full and satisfying for a while, but without feeling super heavy.
Keep this recipe in mind next time you need a healthy and easy weeknight dinner recipe. All your family will love it! ❤️
Ingredients you'll need
- Extra firm tofu: choose your firmest tofu for this recipe. It will crisp and roast better in the pan compared to a softer kind.
- Onion: I used a large sweet onion (Vidalia) for this recipe. I love their milder flavor, which means I can keep the onion slightly under done and crunchier without having too much of a raw pungent flavor.
- Bok choy: choose a large bok choy or about 5-6 baby bok choy. If you use baby bok choy, depending on their size, then you can simply chop their roots and break apart their leaves without slicing them.
- Soy sauce: I love the flavor of this reduced sodium Shoyu soy sauce, but any kind will work.
- Brown sugar: you can definitely use other sweeteners if you prefer (you might need to adjust how much you add if using a different sweetener). Brown sugar gives it a nice caramelized taste that I like for this recipe.
- Rice vinegar: just a little bit of acid to enhance the overall flavor of the sauce. Other vinegar would work, even lime juice in a pinch, if you don't have rice vinegar.
- Sesame oil: if you cook oil-free, then it can be omitted without changing the texture too much, but I find sesame oil to add such an amazing flavor. Just a little bit goes a long way!
- Garlic and ginger: both fresh, definitely don't use powdered. They provide a huge boost in flavor that's essential for the sauce. Don't omit!
- Cornstarch (or arrowroot powder): used to cover the tofu to help it crisp nicely without having to add too much oil. Also used to thicken the teriyaki sauce.
How to prepare the bok choy
If you use a large bok choy (opposed to baby bok choy) as seen in the picture, then you will have to prep the vegetable in a certain way to better cook it:
- First, remove all bruised leaves and clean the bok choy very well as the dirt can get stuck easily closer to the roots in between the leaves. If necessary, you can even submerge the smaller pieces in water after chopped to dislodge all the dirt.
- Once cleaned, slice the base of the bok choy at the root and use your hands to break apart the leaves.
- Then, slice in large chunks from base to the top including the green parts.
- Finally, you will need to roughly divide the white sturdier pieces from the delicate green parts since they will be added at different part throughout the cooking process.
How to make tofu stir fry with bok choy
Make the teriyaki sauce
This is very simple and can be done while the tofu or vegetables are cooking so you can avoid any down time. I also like to whisk the sauce ahead of time to save some prep when dinner time comes.
To make it, simply whisk well all the sauce ingredients together in a bowl (soy sauce, rice vinegar, brown sugar, water, sesame oil, ginger, garlic and cornstarch). The cornstarch tends to clump easily, so be sure to whisk until very smooth before using. Set aside until ready to pour into the pan.
Prepare the crispy tofu
Drain and pat dry very well the tofu using clean towels. Then, chop in cubes of about 1-2 inches. Aim for cubes of all about the same size.
Then, transfer the tofu in a large bowl (or a large plastic bag) and add a little salt. Then, dust the cornstarch over (use about half of the amount to start) and use your hands to toss the cubes around. Add the other half of cornstarch and keep stirring until all the pieces are well covered.
Warm up a large non stick pan (or a wok) over medium-high heat and add a little sesame oil (or avocado oil spray). The sesame oil is optional, but really helps the tofu crisp and adds amazing flavor.
Add the tofu and cook until each side is crispy and golden brown.
Once done, transfer the tofu aside on a plate.
Sauté the vegetables
In the same pan you used to cook the tofu, add the onion and cook for about 2 minutes or until slightly browned. I usually add a little sesame oil before adding the vegetables. Then, add the white parts of the bok choy and cook for about 3-4 minutes stirring often. You want the vegetables to be tender, but still crunchy.
Then, add the green parts and cook for a few more minutes or until the leaves start to wilt.
Combine and finish up
When the veggies are almost done, then turn down the heat to medium-low and pour the teriyaki sauce over (whisk in the bowl before pouring as the cornstarch will be sinking to the bottom). Keep stirring to help the green parts soften while the sauce thickens. Once everything looks done, add the tofu back to the pan and stir to combine and warm up the tofu.
Serve right away with a side of brown rice or noodles.
Watch how to make it
- You may want to prepare all the ingredients before starting, meaning whisking the sauce, chopping the tofu and prepping the onion and bok choy. It goes fast once you start!
- I find the overall texture so much better when incorporating the white and green parts of the bok choy at different times during the cooking process. The white parts simply need a little more cooking to tenderize compared to the green parts that only need a minute or 2 to wilt without getting mushy. Again, if you use baby bok choy, then no need to divide white vs green.
- Don't overcook the veggies! That's important, you want them to be nicely crunchy and not super soft and mushy. That's why a large sweet Vidalia onion is amazing for stir fries as you can keep it crunchy while avoiding a raw flavor. I usually taste the bok choy after 2-3 minutes of cooking to check on texture.
- As for the tofu, be patient and try to get EACH side roasted and browned. You can use tongs to help flip them individually.
- Add the crispy tofu only at the end when ready to eat for best texture as it will eventually absorb some of the sauce and become less crispy.
I think a large classic bok choy is great for this recipe, but if you don't like bitterness from greens, then use baby bok choy instead. They are sweeter and more tender in texture too. Use about 5-6 baby ones depending on their size.
But, this recipe is so easy to customize using other cruciferous vegetables, such as broccoli, Chinese broccoli, Napa cabbage or simply regular cabbage. I think zucchini, shiitake mushrooms or cauliflower would also work well for this recipe.
To make it spicy, feel free to add a finely sliced hot chili pepper or simply drizzle a generous amount of sriracha sauce over at serving of you don't want the whole dish to be spicy.
This saucy teriyaki dish goes well over brown rice, but other whole grains such as quinoa, farro or barley would work great and make this dish super filling too.
Also, serve over Asian style noodles such as soba, udon or simply vermicelli rice noodles. We love the noodles from the company Lotus Foods, they are so much healthier than regular white noodles and can easily be bought online. I often buy them through Amazon.com and I know that Whole Foods Market keeps some in store as well.
Try serving this stir fry over my coconut pineapple rice for a perfect pairing in flavor and top with roasted cashews for added crunch. I usually simply top with sesame seeds and sometimes green onions.
We usually eat the whole thing at one sitting, but this stir fry definitely makes for great leftovers. Keep in an air-tight container for up to 3 days and reheat using the microwave. The tofu won't be very crispy after reheating, but will be super tender and still delicious.
No, I don't think you need to press it. It is quicker that way and this recipe does not require a marinade. What I do is nicely pat it dry using towels before tossing into the cornstarch.
Yes, it is easy to make it completely gluten-free by swapping the soy sauce for a GF tamari sauce and making sure to serve over GF noodles or rice.
More vegan Asian recipes to try
- Vegetable stir fry
- Sweet and sour tofu
- Spicy garlic ramen noodles
- Basic vegan ramen miso soup
- Baked teriyaki cauliflower
- Cabbage miso soup
- Vegan bean sprout chow mein
- Vegan kimchi ramen soup
- Asian cucumber carrot salad
- Easy sticky tofu
- Orange cauliflower
I hope you like this tofu stir fry as much as we do! If you try it, please leave a comment below and rate the recipe to let me know how it was. Your feedback is so helpful!
Bok Choy Tofu Stir-Fry
- 454 g extra firm tofu - drained and patted dry
- 2 tbsp cornstarch
- 1 large sweet Vidalia onion - yellow onion works too
- 1 large bok choy - cleaned and sliced
- sesame oil - as needed for cooking
For the stir-fry sauce
- ½ cup soy sauce
- ¼ cup brown sugar
- 1 tbsp rice vinegar
- 2 large cloves of garlic - crushed
- 1 inch fresh ginger (or about 1 tablespoon) - grated or finely chopped
- 1 tsp sesame oil
- ¾ cup water or vegetable broth
- 2 tbsp cornstarch
- Pat dry the block of tofu and slice in cubes of about 1-2 inches. Then, transfer to a large bowl and add a little salt. Then, sprinkle about half of the cornstarch over and use your hands to toss the cubes around. Add the other half of cornstarch and keep stirring until all cubes are well covered.
- Also clean and slice the bok choy (see blog post and video for tips). You will need to divide the white and green parts of the vegetable.
- Warm up a small amount of sesame oil in a large non-stick pan (or a wok) on medium-high heat.
- Add the tofu and cook for a few minutes on each side. You want each side to be roasted and golden brown, so flip them once in a while. This can take 10-15 minutes. Once done, transfer on a plate and set aside.
- While the tofu is roasting, whisk all the stir-fry sauce ingredients together in a medium bowl (soy sauce, rice vinegar, brown sugar, garlic, ginger, water, cornstarch and sesame oil). Set aside.
- Quickly wipe the pan and transfer back on the stove. Add a little more sesame oil and then add the onion. Cook for about 2 minutes on medium-high heat stirring often and then add the white parts from the bok choy. Stir often and cook until softened, but still crunchy, for about 3-4 minutes.
- Then, add the green parts of the bok choy to the pan and stir to help the leaves slightly wilt. Pour the sauce over, stir right away and keep cooking for about 2 minutes or until the sauce is thicker and the leaves nicely soft. Then, add the tofu back to the pan and stir well to warm up everything together.
- Serve warm with brown rice, quinoa or farro and sesame seeds. Can also be served over Asian style noodles such as soba, udon or vermicelli rice noodles.
- Keep leftovers in the fridge for up to 3 days in an air-tight container.
- Serve garnished with sesame seeds, green onions or sriracha sauce.
- You can also use about 5-6 baby bok choy. In that case, you won't need to separate the white and green parts of the vegetables. Other cruciferous veggies can be used in place of the bok choy such as broccoli, Napa cabbage, green cabbage, cauliflower or Chinese broccoli.