Lately, I’ve been making crispy, pan-fried tofu on repeat. My favorite way to add flavor is this creamy mango-lime kefir sauce.
If you’ve been following along with my recipes for a while you probably already know my love for crispy tofu runs deep. Often, I bake it (find the tutorial here), but lately, I’ve opted for pan-frying to save a little time.
Cooking tofu in a skillet takes about half of the time as baking it in the oven, but it’s a little more labor-intensive since you have to constantly be on standby to flip the pieces as they brown.
There are always tradeoffs, but here’s another reason to try pan-frying. in addition to saving time, you can also use the same skillet to sauté your veggies and cook a sauce to go with the tofu. Easier cleanup equals weeknight-friendly for me.
You can use this one-pan tofu + vegetable + sauce formula to make all sorts of vegetarian dinners. Lately, I’ve been loving the tart and fruity flavors of mango and creamy kefir. It’s a tasty way to change things up when you feel like you’ve been cooking the same things over and over. Mango and lime always make food feel like a party.
What is kefir?
Kefir is a fermented milk drink that’s a bit thinner in consistency than yogurt. Like most dairy products, you can find it in both whole milk and reduced-fat varieties. I like to use whole milk kefir because it makes sauces extra creamy. Look for plain 3.5% Wallaby Organic® Kefir, which is part of Danone North America®, a Certified B Corporation®.
How to Make Pan-Fried Tofu with Mango Kefir
1) Make the Mango Kefir Sauce.
Before you pan-fry the tofu, blend the mango kefir sauce so it’s ready to go when you need it. Combine mango, kefir, lime, cayenne pepper, and salt, cover, and blend on high until it’s smooth and creamy.
How to Cut a Mango:
To prepare diced mango, slice the fruit about an inch and a half from the center to avoid the pit. Then use a knife to score the mango flesh without piercing the skin. Use a spoon to scrape off the chunks of fruit.
2) Pan-Fry the Tofu
Once the Mango Kefir is prepped, heat oil in a large skillet over low-medium heat. Spread the pieces of tofu in a single layer in the skillet and cook for about four minutes on each side, or until the tofu turns golden brown and easily separates from the pan. Add more oil as needed throughout the cooking process and transfer the cooked tofu to a plate or bowl once it’s fully cooked.
Tofu Cooking Tips
How to Press Tofu:
Pressing the liquid out of the tofu before you cook it helps improve its texture. If you’re in a time crunch, you can do this by draining out the liquid and pressing the tofu firmly with your hands. If you have a few extra minutes, wrap the drained tofu in a towel and place something heavy on top.
When to Flip Pan-Fried Tofu:
You really only need to cook the tofu for a few minutes on each side. If the tofu is sticking to the pan, it means it’s not ready to flip yet. As the tofu cooks, it will naturally separate from the pan and will be very easy to move around with tongs or a spatula.
What’s the best type of oil to use for pan-fried tofu?
Use any type of high heat cooking oil to pan-fry tofu. I like grapeseed oil, but avocado and canola are also good options.
3) Cook the Vegetables and Sauce
Once the tofu is cooked, transfer it to a bowl or plate while you prepare the sauce. You can use the same skillet, just add a little more oil if needed to prevent sticking.
First, add red onion to the skillet and cook 3 minutes, or until it turns translucent. Stir in garlic, ginger, and bok choy stalks and cook for a couple of minutes. Add the mango kefir sauce and bok choy leaves and cook for a couple more minutes, or until bok choy is wilted. Now stir in the cooked tofu and turn off the heat.
You can serve this Mango Kefir Tofu as is, or add rice and some garnishes to make it more like a buddha bowl. Serve it over brown rice (or any grain) and garnish with sliced chile pepper, fresh mango, cilantro leaves, and Thai basil.
What’s the best way to store pan-fried tofu with mango kefir?
Feel free to make this recipe in advance or double the recipe so it makes leftovers. Store the pan-fried tofu and sauce in an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 1 week.
Can you substitute frozen mango?
If you don’t have any fresh mango, substitute a heaping half-cup of thawed frozen mango chunks.
- 2 yellow mangos, diced (see note)
- 1 cup plain 3.5% Wallaby Organic Aussie Kefir
- 1 teaspoon grated lime peel
- 1 tablespoon lime juice
- ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 2 tablespoons grapeseed oil or as needed to coat the pan
- 1 14-ounce block extra-firm tofu, chopped into 1 ½ inch square pieces
- ½ cup diced red onion
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 3- inch piece of ginger, grated
- 1 baby bok choy, chopped (stalk and leaves separated)
- Cooked brown rice
- Sliced chile pepper such as Thai chile or jalapeño
- Sliced mango
- Lime wedges
Add mango, kefir, lime peel, lime juice, cayenne pepper, and salt to a blender container. Cover and blend on high 1 minute, or until smooth and creamy. Set aside.
Heat grapeseed oil in a large skillet over low-medium heat. Cook tofu 4 minutes each side, or until it turns golden brown and easily separates from the pan. Add more oil as needed throughout cooking. Transfer the cooked tofu to a plate or bowl and set aside.
Add red onion to the skillet and cook 3 minutes, or until translucent. Stir in garlic, ginger, and bok choy stalks and cook 2 minutes. Stir in the mango kefir sauce and bok choy leaves and cook 2 minutes, or until bok choy is wilted. Stir in cooked tofu and turn off the heat.
Serve over brown rice and garnish with chile pepper, sliced mango, cilantro, and Thai basil if desired.
Store leftovers in an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 1 week.
Substitute a heaping ½ cup of thawed frozen mango chunks for the fresh mango if desired.
Looking for More 30-Minute Vegetarian Dinners?
Try these quick and easy weeknight recipes:
- Shaved Brussels Sprouts Salad with Crispy Chickpeas
- Spinach Cacio e Pepe
- Easy Edamame Crunch Salad
- Tempeh Burrito Bowls
- Coconut Noodle Soup
Did you try this recipe?
Rate and leave a comment below or tag me (@GratefulGrazer) if you share on Instagram.