Main Course/ Vegetarian

Tofu Fried Rice

May 9, 2020 (Last Updated: July 24, 2020) by Chef Molly

Tofu Fried Rice is a fantastic vegetarian recipe that cooks in under 20 minutes. Just fry tofu, eggs, garlic, ginger, carrots, scallions, peas with rice and toss with an easy sesame-soy sauce. 

tofu fried rice in bowl next to small bowl of scallions and bottle of sriracha

We’re cooking a lot more vegetarian dishes in my house these days, and I’m not missing the meat at all. We haven’t fully given up eating meat and fish, but I’m trying to convert everyday meals into vegetarian form whenever possible. Take this Tofu Fried Rice dish. In the past, I’ve made this dish with chicken, or leftover pork, or shrimp, but I’ll tell you, the tofu in this dish is a winner. If you’re looking for more easy ways to reduce your meat consumption, I encourage you to check this out. 

This fried rice recipe is super easy. Once you have your ingredients chopped and your sauce prepped, it takes under 20 minutes to cook. And once you have the technique down, you’ll find yourself coming back to this recipe again and again. It’s absolutely perfect for using up leftovers, like the last bit of sautéed greens or the contents lurking on the bottom of your crisper drawer.

And, for you meat eaters out there, it’s easy to stretch one serving of meat into four. Add in the tail end of that pork tenderloin from the other night or the last bit of a rotisserie chicken. It’s not vegetarian, of course, but if I’m going to buy and eat meat, making it stretch over more than one meal makes me feel a bit better. Maybe you feel the same. 

peas, tofu, sriracha, rice vinegar, sesame oil, vegetable oil, eggs, carrots, garlic, scallions, and white rice

How do you make Tofu Fried Rice?

1. Start by preparing your ingredients, so they are all ready to go before you start cooking. Peel and chop 2 large carrots into very small pieces or julienne into thin strips. (Larger pieces will not cook through by the time you are done cooking the rest of the ingredients.)

2. Peel, then mince 2 cloves of garlic and a 1/2-inch piece of fresh ginger.

3. Slice 3 scallions thinly, separating the white/light green parts from the dark green parts.

4. Drain one package of extra-firm tofu and pat dry with a paper towel. Cut into small cubes.

bowl of chopped carrots, bowl of chopped ginger, plus chopped tofu, garlic, and scallions

5. Scramble 2 eggs in a small bowl with a fork.

6. Make the sauce by stirring together 3 tablespoons soy sauce, 1 1/2 teaspoons of rice wine vinegar, 1 teaspoon of sesame oil, and 1/4 teaspoon sriracha. 

sesame-soy sauce in small bowl with measuring spoon in it

7. Add 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil to a large nonstick skillet or wok. Bring to medium-high heat. Add tofu and stir occasionally until lightly browned on all sides (about 5-8 minutes).

browned tofu in large wok

8. Remove from pan and add another tablespoon of oil, then add eggs. Scramble eggs for 2 minutes, or until fully cooked, breaking into pieces with a spatula.

scrambled eggs in large wok with wooden spatula

9. Remove from pan and add another tablespoon of oil. Add garlic, ginger, carrots, and the white and light green parts of the scallions.

10. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Carrots should be approaching crisp-tender.

ginger, garlic, scallion whites, and chopped carrots in large wok with wooden spatula

11. Add 4 cups of cold, pre-cooked rice and stir with a wooden spoon or spatula until fully incorporated, breaking up any chunks of rice.

rice, chopped carrots, chopped scallions, garlic, and ginger in wok with wooden spatula

12. Add back crispy tofu and eggs along with frozen peas. Stir for 1 minute, then pour in sauce.

13. Stir until sauce is incorporated and peas are cooked, about 1-2 more minutes.

14. Garnish with green onion slices, and extra sriracha, if desired. 

tofu fried rice in wok with wooden spatula

Ingredient Substitutions for Tofu Fried Rice

  • Carrots: You can use frozen carrots as well as fresh. If you have carrots that are frozen in small pieces, just put them in at the end when you add the frozen peas. If they are frozen in bigger slices, thaw before adding with the peas at the end. A super easy idea is to use the frozen combination carrot/pea bags rather than chopping fresh carrots. If you don’t have carrots at all, add in a bit of celery for that crunch factor. 
  • Peas: You can use fresh peas as well as frozen. For fresh peas, add with the carrots, ginger, and garlic. You could also replace the peas with greens like kale, spinach, Swiss chard, or collard greens. Just make sure to either use baby kale or baby spinach, or else chop your greens into small pieces so that they cook quickly. 
  • Scallions: Feel free to replace the scallions with chives or with minced red onion or white onion. Yellow onions would be fine too. If you’re using a type of onion though, just cook it all in the fried rice rather than using it for a garnish as well. 
  • Tofu: This is a vegetarian recipe, but if you prefer to make a meat version, you can replace the tofu with cooked cubed pork or rotisserie chicken or even shrimp. If your meat is already cooked, just add it with the ginger and carrots. Otherwise, follow the instructions for the tofu and cook your protein fully before removing it from the pan and adding the eggs. 
  • Eggs: Totally fine to leave these out if you don’t have any eggs (or if you want a vegan version—see below). 
  • Rice wine vinegar: If you don’t have rice wine vinegar, you can substitute lime juice instead. Since lime juice is a bit more acidic than rice wine vinegar, you may want to add a bit of sugar to the sauce as well. 
  • Rice: See below for the kind of rice recommended for this recipe. If you don’t have rice, you can also substitute cooked quinoa, farro, or barley. 

What kind of rice should you use to make fried rice?

The best fried rice has rice grains that are separate, and not in sticky clumps. As a result, choose a medium to long grain rice. I often use Thai-style jasmine rice or basmati rice. Avoid using short grain rice like sushi rice or arborio rice, which is made to stick together.

Why is cold rice better for fried rice?

Precooked (and chilled) rice is much better behaved in this recipe than warm rice. Cooking the rice in advance and chilling it helps the rice grains dry out and firm up so they do not get mushy in your fried rice. That said, I’ve made fried rice with a fresh, warm batch of rice, and it’s not terrible. If you’ve got a fried rice craving and no cold rice, cooking a fresh pot won’t completely ruin your dish. And, you can try using a little bit less water to cook your rice, which can reduce the stickiness of the freshly made rice. 

Keep in mind that rice freezes beautifully. So the next time you make a pot of rice, double it and freeze half. That way, you’ll always have some on hand when your next fried rice craving hits. 

Can you make this dish vegan?

Yes, easily! To make this a vegan tofu fried rice dish, you’ll just need to leave out the eggs. In the past, there was some concern about soy sauce being made with fish products. However, the vast majority of current commercial soy sauce products now do not contain any fish. Still, please check the label of your ingredients if you are at all worried. 

Is Tofu Fried Rice gluten-free?

This recipe is gluten-free with the exception of the soy sauce in the sauce. But there are gluten-free soy sauces on the market, and also Tamari, which is quite close to soy sauce but made without wheat. Just make sure your soy sauce or Tamari bottle says gluten-free, and you’re good to go!

Can you make Tofu Fried Rice in advance?

Fried rice is a dish that I think tastes best right off the stove. If you’re serving guests and want top-notch fried rice, I wouldn’t recommend making it in advance and reheating it. That can cause the rice to steam a bit more upon reheating (especially if you microwave it), which will lead to a more mushy texture. But for everyday eating, I say have at it. Reheated fried rice is better than none, and it will keep in your refrigerator for at least a couple of days. 

Can you freeze fried rice?

Yes, absolutely. Cooked rice freezes well on its own, and fried rice does too. Just store it in an airtight container or in freezer bags with any air pressed out. You can freeze for up to 3 months. To reheat, thaw in the refrigerator overnight, and then toss into a hot skillet for a few minutes to reheat. You may want to add a little bit of water to the skillet to steam the rice a bit—this is a trick I use when reheating frozen plain rice, and the principle is the same here. The freezer will take some of the moisture out of the rice, so adding a little water in when you reheat helps it come back to life. 

Other Vegetarian Main Course Recipes

If you’re looking for some other vegetarian dinner options, I’ve got you covered.

close up of tofu fried rice in bowl

Tofu Fried Rice

Yield: Serves 4
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 35 minutes

Tofu Fried Rice is a fantastic vegetarian recipe that cooks in under 20 minutes. Just fry tofu, eggs, garlic, ginger, carrots, scallions, and peas with rice and toss with an easy sesame-soy sauce.

Ingredients

  • 2 large carrots
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1/2-inch knob fresh ginger
  • 3 scallions
  • 250g (8.8 oz.) extra-firm tofu (or whatever package size you have)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3 T. vegetable oil, divided
  • 4 cups cold cooked white or brown rice (from 1 cup dried rice)
  • 1 cup (5 oz.) frozen peas

Sauce

  • 3 T. soy sauce
  • 1 1/2 t. rice vinegar
  • 1 t. sesame oil
  • 1/4 t. sriracha

Instructions

    1. Start by preparing your ingredients, so they are all ready to go before you start cooking. Peel and chop carrots into very small pieces or julienne into thin strips. (Larger pieces will not cook through by the time you are done cooking the rest of the ingredients.)
    2. Peel, then mince the garlic and ginger.
    3. Slice the scallions thinly, separating the white/light green parts from the dark green parts.
    4. Drain tofu and pat dry with a paper towel. Cut into small cubes.
    5. Scramble eggs in a small bowl with a fork.
    6. Make the sauce by stirring together soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, sesame oil, and sriracha.
    7. Add 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil to a large nonstick skillet or wok. Bring to medium-high heat.
    8. Add tofu and stir occasionally until lightly browned on all sides (about 5-8 minutes).
    9. Remove from pan and add another tablespoon of oil, then add eggs.
    10. Scramble eggs for 2 minutes, or until fully cooked, breaking into pieces with a spatula.
    11. Remove from pan and add another tablespoon of oil.
    12. Add garlic, ginger, carrots, and the white and light green parts of the scallions.
    13. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Carrots should be approaching crisp-tender.
    14. Add rice and stir with a wooden spoon or spatula until fully incorporated, breaking up any chunks of rice.
    15. Add back crispy tofu and eggs along with frozen peas.
    16. Stir for 1 minute, then pour in sauce. Stir until sauce is incorporated and peas are cooked, about 1-2 more minutes.
    17. Garnish with green onion slices, and extra sriracha, if desired.

Notes

  1. Precooked (and chilled) rice is much better behaved in this recipe than warm rice. Cooking the rice in advance and chilling it helps the rice grains dry out and firm up so they do not get mushy in your fried rice.
  2. To make this a vegan tofu fried rice dish, you’ll just need to leave out the eggs. In the past, there was some concern about soy sauce being made with fish products. However, the vast majority of current commercial soy sauce products now do not contain any fish. Still, please check the label of your ingredients if you are at all worried.
  3. Feel free to make lots of ingredient substitutions with this dish, as this recipe is very flexible! Tofu can be replaced with leftover cooked pork, chicken, or steak, or fry up some shrimp instead. For the vegetables, try using celery or any kind of greens (spinach, kale, Swiss chard, collard greens). Just be carefully to finely chop any greens that don't cook quickly on their own (or use pre-cooked greens).
  4. Leftovers will keep in the refrigerator for 2-3 days, or can be frozen in an airtight container or a freezer bag for up to 3 months.

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 4 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 448Total Fat: 18gSaturated Fat: 2gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 14gCholesterol: 93mgSodium: 724mgCarbohydrates: 56gFiber: 5gSugar: 4gProtein: 17g

Nutrition information is provided as a general reference for users courtesy of the online nutrition calculator Nutritionix.

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4 Comments

  • Reply
    Jeff the Chef
    May 9, 2020 at 1:41 pm

    This sounds delicious! And thank you for your notes. The one about rice is particularly helpful.

    • Reply
      Chef Molly
      May 15, 2020 at 2:10 pm

      Glad to hear it! I try to give whatever pointers I can!

  • Reply
    Katerina
    May 19, 2020 at 12:05 pm

    Tofu fried rice is such a great idea – we love classic fried rice over here with some meat and it would be so fun to switch it up sometimes! What a fabulous idea for tomorrow night dinner. Thanks so much for the inspiration, Molly!

    • Reply
      Chef Molly
      May 20, 2020 at 2:21 pm

      You’re so welcome! Tofu is a fun little twist. I love recipes that you can keep the same base for, and just switch up the ingredients here and there.

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