Bite size sticky tofu pieces in a tangy and sweet lemon sauce. This Chinese inspired lemon tofu is ready in less than 30 minutes and is plate licking good!
Our vegan lemon tofu is:
- An awesome plant-based version of Chinese lemon chicken
- Zingy, sweet and sticky
- A quick weeknight dinner that’s deliciously satisfying
- Easily made gluten free if you use tamari sauce instead of soy sauce
- AND better than takeout!
Choose extra firm tofu for this recipe. You can use less firm tofu if you press it first to remove the excess water.
Silken tofu will not work – if you have some, we recommend using it for this gorgeous Vegan Tiramisu instead!
To make it more flavourful the tofu is first marinated in some soy sauce, then covered in a coating of cornflour seasoned with salt and pepper. It’s then shallow fried in a large frying pan to give it a golden, crispy crust.
We often make this recipe with homemade tofu, made with lemon juice as the coagulant. For even more lemony flavour!
The lemon sauce
Sweet, sour and umami flavours combine into a mouthwatering sauce that coats the tofu.
The sauce starts with garlic and ginger as a base, then adds lemon juice, zest, vegetable stock, soy sauce and sugar. Cornflour mixed with a bit of water thickens it up into a sticky sauce which generously covers the tofu.
Step by step
- Cube the tofu and drizzle over the soy sauce
- Cover in cornstarch and season with salt and pepper
- Fry until golden brown
- Fry the finely chopped or minced garlic and ginger for a minute
- Add the lemon juice, zest, stock, soy sauce and sugar, then mix in the cornstarch and water
- Simmer and stir until the sauce has thickened to a sticky texture
Variations and substitutions
Don’t fancy tofu? This recipe also works great with diced mushrooms too!
Want a change from lemon? Try orange juice and zest instead. YUM!
No cornflour? Cornflour/cornstarch can be substituted with the same amount of arrowroot powder. If you can’t get hold of either, then try plain flour as a coating for the tofu. If you use it in the sauce, use double the quantity flour, as it doesn’t have as much a thickening effect as cornflour.
Don’t want to fry the tofu? Bake until crisp in the oven at 200C for around 30 mins or air fry for 10-15mins.
Want a refined sugar free option? Just replace the sugar in the recipe with agave or maple syrup. Taste the sauce to get the level of sweetness that you prefer.
Serve it with
Our vegan lemon tofu goes great with plain white or brown rice, or noodles and some lightly cooked seasonal veggies. Carrots and pak choy are our favourites. Some crispy sugar snap peas would also be yummy!
A sprinkle of sesame seeds and some chopped spring onions goes really well on top of the tofu.
It’s also amazing with our Vegan Egg Fried Rice!
We hope you enjoy this recipe as much as we do!
Sophie & Paul
Sticky Lemon Tofu
For the crispy tofu
- 1 pack extra firm tofu
- 1 tbsp soy sauce
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp black pepper
- 1/4 cup cornstarch
- 2 tbsp vegetable oil
For the lemon sauce
- 1 tbsp vegetable oil
- 4 cloves garlic finely chopped or minced
- 1 piece ginger 1 inch/3cm long, finely chopped or grated
- 1/4 cup water
- 1/4 tsp stock powder
- 1/4 cup lemon juice (1 lemon)
- 1 tsp lemon zest
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1 tbsp soy sauce
- 2 tsp cornflour mixed with 2 tsp water
- Drain the tofu and cut it into bite size cubes
- Place the cubes in a mixing bowl, drizzle the soy sauce over them and stir gently
- Then add the cornstarch, season with salt and pepper, and stir until the tofu is coated
- In a large frying pan, heat up the oil. When it's hot add the coated tofu cubes and fry until they are golden brown. Turn them over using tongs or a spatula to get them evenly cooked.
- When the tofu is cooked, transfer it to a plate so you can use the pan to make the sauce.
- Heat up the oil, then add your minced garlic and ginger and fry for 1 minute.
- Then add the water, stock powder, soy sauce, lemon juice, zest and sugar and stir together
- Finally add in the cornstarch mixed with some water, and simmer the sauce until it's thick and sticky. Stir frequently.
- Combine the tofu with the sauce and serve with rice, noodles or veggies of your choice. Garnish with spring onions or sesame seeds.