Crispy Tofu with Black Pepper Basil Sauce

Black plate filled with rice, tofu, broccoli, red bell peppers, and basil.

If you are a tofu skeptic, I get it. I was too until I tried this recipe. The key here is crispy tofu. Making it this way adds so much texture and makes for a crunchy crunchy outside and soft inside. Not to mention that this sauce would make just about anything taste good! I love the flavor that the basil gives it and is ready in about 30 minutes!

Crispy Tofu


  • 1 block of firm or extra firm tofu

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil

  • 2 tablespoons corn starch


Note: The key to crispy tofu is pressing it first and using firm/extra firm tofu!

  1. Cut the block of tofu in half, like you was cutting a hamburger bun in half.

  2. Layer the slabs of tofu between paper towels on a plate and top with something heavy (like a recipe book) so that you are pressing out the extra moisture in the tofu.

  3. Leave that sit 30-60 minutes (or longer)

  4. Next, preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

  5. Once you are done pressing the tofu, cue and toss with soy sauce, olive oil, and corn starch.

Now you have two choices:

Toss together and put on a baking sheet. Bake in the oven until golden and crispy. About 30 minutes.

  • This one takes less effort because you can throw it in the oven and forget about it. However, it seems to dry out the tofu more than the frying method.

OR you can fry in a pan over medium high heat with 1 tablespoon olive oil. Allow to cook on each side until golden brown on all sides of the tofu.

  • This is my favorite method. It takes a little more effort because you will need to closely watch the tofu and turn to cook on each side but I find it comes out perfect crisp while still being soft in the middle this way.

Black Pepper Basil Sauce


  • 1 bunch of green onion

  • 1 large carrot diced

  • 1/2 red bell pepper, sliced in thin strips

  • 1/2 cup basil, roughly chopped

  • 1/4 cup soy sauce/tamari

  • 1 1/2 tbsp. maple syrup (or honey)

  • 2 tbsp. lime juice

  • 2 tbsp. water

  • 2 tsp corn starch

  • 1 tbsp. toasted sesame oil

  • 1 tsp black pepper

  • 1 tbsp. ginger, minced

  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced


  1. Mix together the soy sauce, lime juice, water, black pepper, and corn starch and set aside.

  2. In a pan over medium heat, add the sesame oil and sauté the green onion, bell pepper, carrot, ginger, and garlic for about 2 minutes to slightly cook the carrot and bell pepper.

  3. Next, add your soy sauce mixture to the pan with the vegetables. Let simmer for another 5-10 minutes on low-medium heat. The sauce will start to thicken. Thin with water if needed.

  4. Remove from heat and stir in the basil

To serve: add the crispy tofu on top of jasmine rice. Top with the veggie/sauce mixture. Garnish with extra basil or cilantro & enjoy!

NOTE: I added steamed broccoli and water chestnuts to my sauce. Play around with it, you can add whatever veggies you like. For some added spice, try red pepper flakes or chili garlic paste.