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Marinated Tofu Tempura

Posting Date: 02/04/17

Marinated Tofu Tempura

Marinated Tofu Tempura is a recipe I created for tofu haters. There are 2 complaints about tofu from tofu haters. The first one is the texture and the second one is how bland it is. I love tofu, so I always try to make people like it. To solve texture problem, I use soft tofu since most tofu haters seem to be partial to soft tofu possibly because the texture is more like soft cheese. In addition to using soft tofu, I also fry the tofu using tempura batter. I found even meat lovers will eat vegetable if it is fried with batter. So, that's the reason for frying it with a tempura batter. The batter also solves the texture issue because it will give crunchy texture at the outside. To solve the bland issue, I marinate the tofu. This will give the flavor it needs. Another thing people may not know about how to work with tofu is to drain the liquid as much as possible from inside of the tofu. To do that, it is left on top of the colander with some weight on top of it so that it is pressed to get out of most of the liquid. This liquid is the reason why tofu is bland even after you marinate it. By removing most of the liquid, the marinade will not be diluted with the liquid and you will get strong flavor of the marinade on it. This dish is good as an appetizer or finger food. It will also make your vegetarian friends happy. Don't forget your vegetarian friends when entertaining. I always make at least 2 vegetarian dishes in my party so that everyone can have something to eat.

For the tempura batter, the recipe calls for sparkling water. This makes the batter light. I also make sure the sparkling water is cold so that the batter is lighter and crispier. I serve it with sweet chili sauce. It adds the sweetness.

This recipe serves for 2 people.


  • 1 19 oz soft tofu. You can also use firm tofu. Firm tofu is easier to handle; however, if you don't like tofu, it is better to use soft tofu because of its texture. You will need to handle soft tofu gently since it is easier to break apart. The tofu will be marinated for 24 hours, so don't make the tempura batter until you are ready to fry the tofu.
  • For marinade: 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • For marinade: 1/2 of lemon, juiced
  • For marinade: 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • For marinade: 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • For marinade: 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • For marinade: 2 teaspoon sugar
  • vegetable oil
  • To coat tofu: 1/4 cup corn starch
  • For tempura batter: 1 cup cold sparkling water. You need to use unopened bottle of sparkling water so that the batter will be light.
  • For tempura batter: 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • For tempura batter: 1/2 cup ice cold water
  • For tempura batter: 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • For tempura batter: 1 cup flour
  • sweet chili sauce


  1. If you use soft tofu, handle it gently since it is easier to break apart. Drain and rinse the tofu. Pat it dry using paper towel. Place colander on top of a container while making sure the bottom of colander doesn't touch the bottom of the container. The container will be used to catch all the liquid coming out of the tofu so that it has less liquid inside it. That's why you don't want the bottom of the colander to touch the bottom of container. Place the tofu on top of colander. Place something heavy on top of the tofu and leave it there until at least 30 min. This will press the tofu so that it can drain more liquid from the inside. By draining liquid from tofu before marinating it, the marinade will not get diluted with the liquid. This will make it more flavorful.
  2. Add soy sauce, lemon juice, pepper, garlic powder, red pepper flakes, and sugar into a ziploc bag that is big enough to fit the tofu. Move the liquid inside the bag around so that the dry seasonings are mixed well with the liquid from the soy sauce and lemon juice.
  3. Pat the tofu dry with paper towel. Cut it into 1.25" cubes. Place them in the ziploc bag filled with the marinade. Do your best to remove the air out of the bag and seal it. Move the marinade around in the bag so that it coats the tofu. Leave it in the fridge for 24 hours. If you are pressed with time, you can marinate it for at least 2 hours. I found 24 hours make the tofu more flavorful than 1 hour. When you place the tofu inside the fridge, don't forget to put the unopened sparkling water bottle in the fridge as well. If you only marinate the tofu for 2 hours, you can place the sparkling water bottle in the freezer to speed up cooling it.
  4. Do not make the tempura batter until you are ready to fry the tofu.
  5. Turn on the stove to medium high heat. Place frying pan on the stove. Pour vegetable oil in the frying pan.
  6. Put corn starch on a plate. Put lightly beaten egg, sparkling water, cold water, salt, and flour in a bowl and whisk the batter. Do not over-stir the batter when you whisk it. It is okay to have some lumps. Drain the tofu cubes from the marinade.
  7. Coat each cube with corn starch. Shake off excess corn starch. Dip tofu cubes in the batter. Let the excess batter drip. Drop tofu cube slowly in the frying pan. Repeat this step for the other tofu cubes. Make sure you don't overcrowd the pan. Fry it until all sides are golden brown. Remove it from the pan using slotted spoon so that you can get rid of most of the vegetable oil. Place it on a plate lined with paper towel. While frying tofu cubes, keep the batter chilled in the fridge.
  8. Serve them with sweet chili sauce.


  • Always drain liquid from inside tofu before working on it. This will make tofu less bland. To drain liquid from inside tofu, place it on top of colander. Place something heavy on top of tofu to press it. Don't forget to put container underneath the colander while making sure the bottom of colander doesn't touch the bottom of the container. You should drain the liquid for at least 30 min.
  • Do not make the tempura batter until you are ready to fry the tofu. Always use icy cold water and cold sparkling water when making tempura batter to make the batter light and crispy. Keep the batter chilled in the fridge while you are frying tofu cubes.

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