Caramel-Cooked Tofu

This sweet and sour Vietnamese style of pan-fried Caramel-Cooked Tofu is from Michael Natkin’s cookbook Herbivoracious.

Caramel-Cooked Tofu

Print This Recipe Total time Yield 4Source Michael Natkin: HerbivoraciousPublished


  • ¼ cup rice wine or dry sherry
  • 2 teaspoon rice vinegar
  • ¼ cup soy sauce (use a wheat-free version for gluten-free)
  • 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 teaspoon minced fresh ginger
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 1 pound extra-firm tofu, patted thoroughly dry and cut into 2 x 2x ⅓‑inch pieces
  • 2 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 4 or more dried small red chilies (optional)
  • 5 scallions, white and light green parts only, thinly sliced
  • ½ cup thinly sliced white onion


Whisk together the rice wine, rice vinegar, soy sauce, sesame oil, garlic, ginger and sugar until the sugar dissolves.

Heat the vegetable oil in a large, heavy skillet (preferably cast iron) over high heat. Lay the tofu squares in the skillet in a single layer (or as close to a single layer as possible). Fry until golden brown on one side, about 4 minutes.

Flip the tofu and immediately pour in the sauce; add the white onions and chilies, if using. The sauce will sputter and begin to caramelize. Keep a close eye on it, and move the tofu around a little bit to let the sauce get under it. Continue cooking until the sauce has thickened and become a fairly thick glaze coating the tofu, about 4 minutes more.

Serve immediately, topped with the scallions.