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Vietnamese Fried Tofu & Tomato Sauce

Vietnamese fried tofu is a gloriously simple and tasty dish that combines a hot, salty, sweet and sour tomato sauce with crispy tofu!

I have also added air fryer cooking instructions for those that want to avoid frying and it tastes amazing!

Crispy fried tofu with a spicy Vietnamese tomato sauce.

Vietnamese Crispy Tofu.

This recipe sees two rarities combined here on my site… The first is a recipe that uses tofu and the second sees me cook a recipe from a book.

A book that so enamoured me, it has me working away on my own Vietnamese variations. My Vietnamese chicken curry, is very much a follow on from this recipe.

I have been fairly rude about tofu here, it is an ingredient I find difficult, principally because it has little flavour.

It has only started to appear here fairly recently and I am a definite convert! My Chinese hot and sour soup uses it in a very different way. But my sweet and sour tofu, salt and pepper tofu and teriyaki tofu recipe embrace the fried or seared tofu idea.

My gochujang tofu takes another different approach and simmers it in a sauce. This is a similar approach to the one that I use in both my matar paneer and palak paneer recipes!

I even have a breadcrumbed tofu katsu curry and tofu satay too!

The earthiness of the tofu is amplified by frying it in this recipe. It is the perfect complement to the delicious spicy tomato sauce.

The second rarity is me cooking from a cookbook. This recipe comes from a book called the food of Vietnam by Luke Nguyen. 

I do cook from my large collection of cookbooks occasionally, but usually, those recipes go through many manifestations before they end up here.

Overhead crispy fried tofu with a spicy Vietnamese tomato sauce featuring a title overlay.

Frequently Asked Questions.

What sort of tofu should I use?

Tofu can be a difficult ingredient to buy if you are uninitiated. This recipe does not aim to initiate you but allow you to make this recipe.

So go to the store and buy extra firm tofu. No flavours, not smoked, not marinated! Just plain old tofu, it will likely be in the refrigerator section.

Should I press the tofu?

Many recipes call for you to press tofu, it was not mentioned in the recipe I used as a source for this. Being the curious soul that I am I did test pressing and it made no discernable difference. It is however important to dry the tofu well!

Can I use fish sauce rather than soy sauce?

The source recipe for this recommended using fish sauce rather than soy sauce. I wanted to keep this recipe vegan and vegetarian so opted for soy sauce and it works wonderfully.

However the fish sauce variant is exceptionally good and if meat free is less important to you then you absolutely should give it a try.

Is it better cooked in the fryer or air fryer?

I think that this recipe is better cooked in an air fryer, the tofu is more crispy and feels lighter. But it is also spectacularly good fried in oil too!

Close up crispy fried tofu with a spicy Vietnamese tomato sauce.

Serving Suggestions.

I typically serve the deep fried tofu recipe with plain white rice, it is the perfect vehicle to carry the spicy tomato sauce and not fight with it.

But it would also be great with either my stir fried broccoli or asparagus stir fry.

It is also particularly good with pickles on the side, adding some pickled daikon or pickled cucumber makes a glorious addition.

If you wanted a salad then something like this carrot and courgette salad would be perfect! It features crispy peanuts and a fantastic Vietnamese influenced dressing.

Crispy fried tofu with a spicy Vietnamese tomato sauce with fresh coriander.
Yield: 2 Servings

Vietnamese Crispy Fried Tofu Recipe

Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 25 minutes

This Vietnamese fried tofu recipe with a spicy tomato sauce converted this tofu sceptic into an enthusiast, even if it just for this recipe!


  • 350g (12 oz) Extra Firm Tofu
  • 3 Garlic Cloves
  • 15g (1/2 Thumb Sized Piece) Ginger
  • 50g (1/3 Cup) Shallots
  • 2 Thai Birds Eye Chilli Peppers
  • 250g (2-3 Small-Medium) Tomatoes
  • 3 Spring Onions
  • 2 Tsp Sugar
  • 2 Tbsp Light Soy Sauce (Use fish sauce if you are not vegan)
  • 1 Tsp Black Pepper
  • 125ml (½ Cup) Water
  • Fresh Coriander
  • Oil for frying


  1. Cut the tofu into bite-sized 2.5 cm pieces and dry on kitchen towel.
  2. Dice the shallot and chilli as finely as you can.
  3. Mash the garlic.
  4. Grate the ginger.
  5. Cut the tomatoes into a 1cm dice.
  6. Cut the spring onions into 1cm lengths.
  7. Heat the oil in a wok to 180°C or 350°F.
  8. Batch fry the tofu until golden, this should take 10 minutes in total.
  9. When cooked drain on kitchen towel and transfer to a warm oven to keep warm.
  10. Drain off all but about a tablespoon of the oil and turn the heat down to medium-high.
  11. Add the garlic, shallots, chilli and ginger, then stir fry for a minute.
  12. Add in the tomatoes, soy sauce, black pepper and sugar.
  13. When the tomatoes begin to break down add the water and cook for 7 or 8 minutes to reduce to a sauce.
  14. Throw in the spring onions and cook for a further minute.
  15. Sprinkle over fresh coriander leaves when ready to serve.

Air Fryer Cooking Instructions:

  1. Preheat the air fryer to 200°C or 400°F.
  2. Spray the diced tofu and the base of the air fryer basket with oil.
  3. Add the tofu and cook for 15-17 minutes until nicely crisp making sure that you give the basket a shake every 5 minutes

Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:


Amount Per Serving: Calories: 425Total Fat: 31gSaturated Fat: 3gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 25gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 1115mgCarbohydrates: 23gFiber: 6gSugar: 13gProtein: 22g

Calorific details are provided by a third-party application and are to be used as indicative figures only.

Did you make this recipe?

If you made this recipe, I'd love to see what you did and what I can do better, share a picture with me on Instagram and tag me @krumplibrian and tell me how it went!

Kelly Anthony

Thursday 15th of August 2019

I have to admit that I have never tried cooking tofu but after reading your post I'm interested. I think you brought up a good point that it is a simple ingredient and should be cooked that way.

Brian Jones

Friday 16th of August 2019

Give it a try and let me know how you get on :)


Thursday 15th of August 2019

The texture that you get from the tofu in this dish is divine! So good!

Brian Jones

Friday 16th of August 2019

Ain't it so!

Danielle Wolter

Thursday 15th of August 2019

i absolutely LOVE fried tofu. This recipes sounds just incredible - I definitely have to try frying the tofu on my own (I usually buy it that way). Loving the tomato sauce with thai chilies and fish sauce - YUM!

Brian Jones

Friday 16th of August 2019

The sauce is superb, completely unlike any other tomato sauce I have tried or found and I love it!


Thursday 15th of August 2019

I have to admit I've never tried tofu before - it's not something I've ever fancied trying! But I think this recipe could make me change my mind! That sauce sounds incredible! Pinned and Yummed :-)

Brian Jones

Friday 16th of August 2019

It is an ingredient that I keep on trying with, this is my favourite recipe so far!

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