What is Mongolian Tofu: An In-Depth Guide to the Dish

Disclosure: As Amazon Associates we earn from qualifying purchases. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission at no additional cost to you.

Mongolian tofu is a vegan spin on the classic Mongolian beef dish, featuring crispy fried tofu and a savory sauce. In this article, we’ll explore the recipe for this delicious and healthy dish, and share tips on how to make it at home.

what is mongolian tofu

What Is Mongolian Tofu

Mongolian Tofu is a delightful, vegan alternative to the popular Chinese takeout dish, Mongolian Beef. Originating from Mongolia, this tofu-based meal incorporates an array of flavors, using crispy tofu as the main ingredient. The tofu is typically made from soybeans that are ground into a paste and shaped into blocks, creating a firm and flavorful product source.

A key feature of Mongolian Tofu is its savory-sweet sauce, which combines ingredients such as ginger, garlic, vinegar, sugar, hoisin, and soy sauce. The sauce is often enhanced with cornstarch for added thickness, and it may include spicy elements like Asian garlic chili paste source. This memorable, mouthwatering sauce is used to coat the tofu, ensuring a scrumptious blend of flavors in every bite.

To prepare Mongolian Tofu, the tofu blocks are first coated with cornstarch and then pan-fried, resulting in a crispy exterior and tender interior. The tofu is subsequently smothered in the signature sauce, melding the flavors together. The dish is often garnished with green onions and shredded carrots for a colorful and nutritious touch source.

This versatile dish also pairs well with a variety of accompaniments, such as:

  • Brown rice
  • Soba noodles
  • Steamed vegetables
  • Stir-fried veggies

Mongolian Tofu is a delicious meal choice for vegans, vegetarians, and anyone looking for a healthier option without sacrificing taste. Its unique blend of sweet, savory, and spicy flavors, along with its satisfying texture, makes it a dish that one would want to enjoy time and time again.

Origins and Variations

Mongolian tofu is a popular dish inspired by the well-known Mongolian beef, which is a classic Chinese-American dish often found in restaurants. The major difference between the two lies in the fact that Mongolian tofu is a vegetarian and vegan-friendly alternative, replacing beef with tofu as its main ingredient. Thus, it appeals to those seeking healthier or plant-based options in their Asian cuisine.

Traditionally, Mongolian beef is a combination of thinly sliced beef cooked with a delicious mix of sauce and vegetables. When creating the vegan version, tofu replaces the beef component, providing a similar texture and the ability to absorb the flavorful sauce. This substitution creates a tasty, nutritious, and satisfying dish that can be enjoyed by a variety of dietary preferences.

Tofu, also known as bean curd, is a versatile ingredient made by coagulating soy milk and pressing the curds into solid blocks. The texture can range from silken, soft, firm, extra firm, to super firm, making it appropriate for various dishes, including Chinese, Japanese, Taiwanese, and other Asian cuisines. In Mongolian tofu, it’s essential to choose a firm or extra firm tofu variety, as these types can maintain their shape and crispiness when cooked.

When it comes to preparation, Mongolian tofu requires shallow frying to render the tofu crispy and golden-brown. Afterward, it’s coated in a mouth-watering sauce that often combines sweet, savory, and umami flavors. Some common ingredients in Mongolian tofu sauce are soy sauce, garlic, ginger, and a sweetener such as sugar or maple syrup. The dish is then completed with vegetables like green onions and shredded carrots, giving it a vibrant color and extra nutrients.

Mongolian tofu can be easily customized to suit personal taste preferences or regional variations. For example, Taiwanese-style dishes may incorporate the use of different sauces, spices, or cooking methods. In terms of serving, this dish is typically accompanied by a generous serving of rice or noodles, bringing balance and satisfying one’s appetite.

To summarize, Mongolian tofu is a delightful and appealing dish, offering a vegan and vegetarian alternative to the classic Mongolian beef. Its versatility in preparation and regional variations make it an exciting and fulfilling meal option for everyone.

Ingredients and Preparation

Tofu Selection and Preparation

Mongolian Tofu is a delicious and healthy alternative to the popular Chinese takeout dish, Mongolian Beef. The key ingredient for this vegetarian delight is extra-firm tofu. It’s essential to press the tofu using a tofu press to remove excess liquid. This process helps the tofu achieve a crispy texture when cooked. After pressing, cut the tofu into cubes or strips, depending on your preference.

Sauce Components

The savory sauce brings out the best flavors in Mongolian Tofu. To create this tasty mixture, you’ll need:

  • Soy sauce (low sodium is a healthier option)
  • Hoisin sauce
  • Rice vinegar
  • Sugar (or a substitute like brown sugar)
  • Ginger (fresh is recommended, finely minced)
  • Garlic (finely minced)
  • Cornstarch for thickening the sauce

You can adjust the proportions of each ingredient depending on your taste preferences, but a typical recipe includes about 3 tablespoons of soy sauce, 2 tablespoons each of hoisin sauce and rice vinegar, and 2 teaspoons of sugar (Veganiac). Be sure to mix all the sauce components well before combining them with the tofu.

Veggies and Garnishes

Mongolian Tofu is best served with a variety of vegetables that add color, texture, and nutrition. Some popular additions include:

  • Shredded carrots
  • Sliced red bell pepper
  • Finely sliced green onions (also known as scallions)

These vegetables can be cooked separately or in the same pan as the tofu, then combined when serving. Do not forget to add garnishes such as sesame seeds, which enhance the visual appeal and add a nutty flavor to your dish.

When it comes to the nutritional profile of Mongolian Tofu, one serving contains around 250-350 calories with approximately 9-12 grams of fat (depending on the amount of oil used during cooking) (Slender Kitchen). Most of the calories come from the tofu and sauce, while the veggies contribute essential vitamins and fiber.

In summary, Mongolian Tofu is a flavorful and healthy vegetarian take on the classic Mongolian Beef dish. By selecting the right type of tofu, creating a savory sauce, and adding vegetables and garnishes, you can prepare a delicious meal that everyone will enjoy.

Cooking Techniques

Frying Tofu

Mongolian tofu is created by first frying the tofu until it becomes crispy. To achieve the perfect texture, it’s crucial to press the tofu for at least 30 minutes or up to 2 hours to remove as much water as possible. Cut the tofu into bite-sized cubes and coat them with cornstarch or another type of flour, such as tapioca flour1. Heat vegetable oil in a pan or wok over medium heat, ensuring that there’s enough oil to cover the bottom of the pan. Carefully place the tofu cubes into the hot oil, making sure they don’t stick together or overcrowd the pan. Fry them until they turn golden brown and crispy, turning them occasionally for even browning. Once done, remove the tofu from the oil and set them on paper towels to absorb any excess oil2.

Preparing Sauce and Veggies

The sauce for Mongolian tofu is characterized by a delightful balance of sweet, savory, and spicy flavors. To prepare the sauce, gather ingredients such as ginger, garlic, vinegar, sugar, hoisin sauce, soy sauce, cornstarch, and Asian garlic chili paste3. In a separate pan or wok, combine the garlic, ginger, dried chilis, and brown sugar, frying until the sugar has melted and caramelized4. Deglaze the pan with the soy sauce and water, then add the remaining sauce ingredients and simmer until the sauce has thickened.

Mongolian tofu is often accompanied by vegetables, such as green onions and shredded carrots, which add a touch of freshness and crunch to the dish1. Depending on your preferences, you can either quickly stir-fry the veggies or simply toss them with the finished dish.

Combining Ingredients

After the tofu has been fried and the sauce has been prepared, the next step is to combine the two. Gently mix the crispy tofu with the sauce, ensuring that each piece is well-coated3. Serve your Mongolian tofu over a bed of noodles, such as soba or brown rice noodles, or steamed rice for an authentic and satisfying meal1. Garnish the dish with some sliced green onions and toasted sesame seeds for extra flavor and texture. Enjoy your delicious and wholesome Mongolian tofu!


  1. <a href=”https://www.slenderkitchen.com/recipe/mongolian-tofu”>Slender Kitchen</a> 2 3
  2. <a href=”https://www.foodnetwork.com/how-to/packages/food-network-essentials/How-to-cook-tofu”>Food Network</a>
  3. <a href=”https://veganiac.com/mongolian-tofu-recipe/”>Veganiac</a> 2
  4. <a href=”https://chejorge.com/2020/07/06/crispy-mongolian-tofu/”>Chez Jorge</a>

Helpful Tips and Tricks

Achieving Crispy Tofu

Mongolian tofu is a delightful vegetarian alternative to the traditional Mongolian beef dish. This Chinese-inspired creation involves crispy tofu smothered in a delectable sweet and savory sauce made with green onions and shredded carrots. It can be served alongside brown rice or soba noodles for a wholesome meal experience.

To achieve that perfect crispy tofu texture, it is vital to press the tofu properly to remove any excess moisture. After pressing, cut the tofu into 3/4 to 1-inch cubes. Next, coat the cubes evenly by tossing them with cornstarch or tapioca flour. This step is crucial as it helps create a crisp outer layer when frying the tofu.

The oven can also be employed for a healthier approach to crispy tofu. When using this method, preheat the oven to 425°F (218°C) and line a baking tray with parchment paper. Place the tofu cubes on the tray and bake until they reach the desired level of crispiness.

Pressing Tofu Properly

To press tofu effectively, follow these steps:

  1. Choose super or extra firm tofu because it holds its shape better during cooking.
  2. Drain the tofu and remove it from its packaging.
  3. Place the tofu between a few layers of paper towels.
  4. Position a weighted object, such as a plate with a heavy object on top or a specific tofu press, over the tofu.
  5. Allow the tofu to rest for 15-20 minutes to ensure that excess liquid is absorbed by the paper towels.

By following these helpful tips and tricks, one can now successfully create their own mouthwatering Mongolian tofu dish. With crispy tofu and an irresistible sweet and savory sauce, this meal is sure to become a new favorite for vegetarians and non-vegetarians alike.

Substitutions and Modifications

Mongolian tofu is a popular dish that features tofu as its main ingredient, cooked in a savory sauce with flavors like soy sauce, garlic, and ginger. While delicious and satisfying, some people may want to explore substitutions or modifications to suit their dietary needs or preferences. In this section, we will discuss several substitution options and ways to modify the recipe while keeping its essence intact.

One option for substituting tofu in a Mongolian tofu recipe is tempeh. Like tofu, tempeh is made from soybeans but has a different texture and a slightly nuttier flavor. Marinate your tempeh in a similar sauce as the Mongolian tofu sauce, and then pan-fry or bake it to achieve crispy edges that complement the dish.

For those looking to avoid soy-based products altogether, seitan is another excellent alternative. Made from wheat protein, seitan has a meaty texture that pairs well with the bold Mongolian sauce. Marinade and cook the seitan according to your desired method, such as pan-frying, baking, or even grilling.

In search of a healthier, plant-based option with a protein-packed punch? Try using kidney beans or quinoa in place of tofu. These ingredients offer a different texture compared to tofu but can absorb the flavors of the Mongolian sauce and add a nutritious spin on the traditional recipe.

For those following a gluten-free diet, modify the sauce ingredients in Mongolian tofu by using gluten-free soy sauce or tamari. This simple swap will allow you to enjoy the dish without any gluten concerns.

Additionally, making healthier modifications to Mongolian tofu is simple by opting for reduced-sodium soy sauce, using a smaller amount of oil, and incorporating more vegetables into the recipe. Steaming or stir-frying your veggies will maintain their nutrient content and give your dish a vibrant pop of color and texture.

In summary, the following substitutions and modifications can be made in a Mongolian tofu recipe:

  • Tempeh as a soy-based alternative to tofu
  • Seitan for a non-soy, protein-rich ingredient
  • Kidney beans and quinoa for a plant-based, protein-packed option
  • Gluten-free soy sauce or tamari for a gluten-free version
  • Healthier modifications, such as reduced-sodium soy sauce, less oil, and added vegetables, to enhance the dish’s nutritional value

Experimenting with these substitutions and modifications allows you to customize your Mongolian tofu dish to suit your personal dietary preferences, without losing the essence of the flavorful and satisfying classic.

Serving Suggestions and Pairings

Mongolian tofu is a delicious, flavorful dish that incorporates essential elements of Mongolian cuisine. While the term “Mongolian tofu” may not be as common, it generally refers to dishes that include tofu cooked with various Mongolian-style sauces or seasonings.

Preparing a succulent Mongolian tofu dish usually takes about 15 minutes, making it an ideal choice for a quick yet satisfying dinner. When cooking this dish, it is essential to use high-quality tofu and the right blend of seasonings to achieve a genuinely Mongolian taste.

You can serve Mongolian tofu with several delicious accompaniments to enhance its flavor and create a well-rounded meal. Here are some pairing suggestions:

  • Brown Rice: This healthy whole grain provides a subtle, nutty flavor that complements the Mongolian tofu. The chewy texture of brown rice also pairs nicely with the tender tofu. Cook the brown rice according to package instructions, and serve alongside the tofu dish.
  • Vegetable Stir-Fry: Enhance your Mongolian tofu with a colorful and nutritious vegetable stir-fry. You can create a variety by choosing different vegetables, such as bell peppers, snow peas, broccoli, carrots, and zucchini. Sauté the veggies with a touch of oil and add some Mongolian-style seasonings to tie the side dish to the tofu’s flavor.
  • Noodle Dishes: You can never go wrong when pairing tofu with noodles. Try serving Mongolian tofu over a bed of your favorite noodles, such as rice noodles or soba, tossed in a light soy sauce or even a touch of the Mongolian sauce used in the tofu dish.

Some other serving ideas include:

  • Simple green salad: Balance your meal with a fresh salad incorporating mixed greens, cucumber slices, cherry tomatoes, and a light vinaigrette.
  • Steamed dumplings: Add a taste of Asian cuisine by serving steamed dumplings or potstickers alongside your Mongolian tofu.

Remember to focus on including a variety of flavors and textures when pairing your Mongolian tofu with different side dishes. This will ensure each aspect of the meal complements the tofu, resulting in a well-rounded and unforgettable dining experience.

Storage and Leftovers

Mongolian tofu is a delicious dish featuring crispy tofu in a sweet and spicy sauce, often accompanied by shredded carrots and green onions, offering a satisfying vegetarian meal reminiscent of takeout dishes1. Proper storage and handling of leftovers are essential to maintain the dish’s quality and avoid potential food safety issues.

When it comes to storing leftover Mongolian tofu, it’s vital to transfer any uneaten portions into an airtight container. Refrigerate promptly, preferably within two hours of preparation2. Properly stored, the dish should retain its freshness for up to three to four days in the fridge3.

If you need to store leftover Mongolian tofu for a longer period, freezing is a viable option. To freeze, separate the tofu and sauce into separate freezer-safe containers or bags, then seal tightly to prevent freezer burn4.

When it’s time to enjoy leftovers, remember to reheat them properly. A microwave or stovetop are good options for reheating as they help maintain the dish’s crispy texture and saucy consistency5. Make sure to stir the tofu and sauce occasionally during reheating for even heat distribution6.

To summarize, proper storage and handling are crucial when it comes to Mongolian tofu leftovers. Refrigerate in an airtight container for up to three to four days, or freeze for longer storage. Reheat using a microwave or stovetop, ensuring even heat distribution, and enjoy your dish’s delicious flavors once more.


  1. https://www.slenderkitchen.com/recipe/mongolian-tofu
  2. https://www.fda.gov/food/buy-store-serve-safe-food/serving-safe-buffets
  3. https://www.foodsafety.gov/food-safety-charts/cold-food-storage-charts
  4. https://www.thekitchn.com/how-to-freeze-tofu-230442
  5. https://www.eatbydate.com/vegetables/fresh-vegetables/tofu-shelf-life-expiration-date/
  6. https://www.livestrong.com/article/535894-what-is-the-safest-healthiest-way-to-cook-reheat-tofu/

Mongolian Tofu vs. American Chinese Takeout

Mongolian Tofu is a popular vegetarian dish that delivers a burst of flavor from a unique combination of sweet and savory ingredients. Inspired by the classic Chinese takeout option, Mongolian Beef, this tofu-based alternative is simple to make and provides a fresh take on the traditional dish.

American Chinese takeout has a distinct taste, blending elements of Chinese and Western cuisines to create dishes that appeal to a broad range of taste buds. While many Chinese-American recipes keep the fundamental components of their counterparts from China, they often incorporate a modified flavor palette, catering to local preferences. With Mongolian Tofu, the essence of the beloved Mongolian Beef dish remains, yet it is adapted to suit the preferences of vegetarian and vegan diners.

To create a delicious Mongolian Tofu dish, there are several key components, as outlined in this recipe:

  • Crispy tofu: Medium-firm tofu is ideal, delivering a distinct texture
  • Sweet and savory sauce: A mouthwatering blend of dark brown sugar, soy sauce, ginger, and garlic
  • Vegetables: Green onions and shredded carrots add a pop of color and freshness
  • Base: Serve over brown rice or soba noodles for a satisfying, hearty meal

When comparing Mongolian Tofu to other dishes commonly found in American Chinese takeout establishments, a few distinct features stand out:

  • Healthier option: Mongolian Tofu is an excellent alternative for health-conscious diners, as it often contains less salt, sugar, and oil than other dishes
  • Vegetarian-friendly: The use of tofu in place of beef or chicken caters to those with dietary restrictions or different taste preferences
  • Versatility: The dish can be easily customized, with diners able to add their desired sauce ingredients, vegetables, or protein substitutes

In summary, Mongolian Tofu not only holds its own among other Chinese-American takeout options, but also offers a nutritious and customizable dining experience. By satisfying both sweet and savory cravings, it’s no surprise that this vegetarian-friendly dish continues to grow in popularity.