Tofu Kale Stir-Fry and Green Bean Salad

Tofu Kale Stirfry

So how do you feel about freezing tofu?

Sometimes I like it, sometimes I don’t. Freezing definitely changes the texture of the tofu. It makes it… hole-ier? My totally unscientifically proven theory is that while tofu looks like a homogenous material, it’s not. When it freezes, the water expands in different areas, leaving behind little miniature tofu caves when you thaw it. This makes the tofu rather sponge-like. This can be good or bad, depending.

It certainly makes your tofu easier to press. You can almost wring it out over the sink like a sponge. Squeeze it between your palms and voila, pressed tofu. But it will suck up liquid just as easily as it releases it. If you’re making baked tofu, use a milder marinade than you might normally, and use more of it. It’s going to suck it up like nobody’s business.

Here, I cubed it and stir-fried it. Frozen tofu is an okay candidate for stir-frying, but beware. It’ll soak up oil just like anything else. “Wow, I thought I put oil in the pan.. where’d it go? Better add more!” You’ll find it later. A tofu cube full of hot oil isn’t my idea of fun. I’d recommend using something non-stick here to prevent an unfortunate dining experience.

But it’s okay if it sticks a little. It’s actually preferable. When it sticks, you can scrape off the sticky parts and you get these fun, crispy tofu crumble things in your final dish. The cubes don’t suffer for it, you just get some great added texture.

This recipe isn’t anything earth shattering, but it’s fast, easy, and super adaptable.

Tofu Kale Stir-fry
Serves two

1-2 Tbs Oil
1 Block Extra Firm Tofu, frozen, thawed, pressed, cubed
1 Bunch Kale, deveined and ripped into small pieces
1/2 tsp Chili Flakes
1/4+ tsp Ginger Powder (or a bit of fresh ginger, minced)
2 Tbs Low Sodium Tamari
2 tsp Sugar (for a sweeter version, optional)

Heat the oil on high in a well seasoned wok or large non-stick pan. Add tofu carefully, avoiding hot angry oil splatters. Use a wooden spoon to move the tofu around, until it begins to color.

Add kale, chili flakes, and ginger. Cook well, stirring and scraping bits off the bottom, until tofu is golden and kale is getting brown caramelized spots on it. Add tamari and optional sugar, stir well for a few moments, serve immediately with fresh ground pepper over the top.

What’s that in the background? A little green bean salad from the cookbook. I made the salty version of the stir-fry because the salad was sweet

Glazed Green Bean Salad


  1. Tania

    Thank you for posting this recipe. I’m definitely going to use it as my first foray with kale. Easy and few ingredients :-P
    I still feel badly because I feel like that person guilted you into putting it up. Stick to your guns! We’re all going to buy your book :-)

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  3. Danielle

    Well, I do freeze my tofu. I drain the water, wrap it in plastic, and stick it in the freezer. In fact, I store tofu in the freezer. Then I take a package out to defrost in the fridge. Before I press, I squeeze the water out, then press in a flat-bottomed colander. It works for me–a chewier texture.

  4. Joanna

    Hee, I bought my first ever bunch of kale a few days ago and I’m so excited to use it tonight! I usually gravitate towards spinach but I wanted to try something new, and you mention kale so often that I thought I’d give it a try. The bunch I got is so fresh and tender I wouldn’t even hesitate to eat it raw!

  5. Cathy

    I’m just learning to like tofu, so I don’t have much experience with it yet. I’ve been very interested to try freezing it, because I think I might prefer the chewier texture – at least in some things. How do you think it would be crumbled in something like chili? I’ve used TVP in the past but then read somewhere that it was preferable to use “whole” soy foods, so I was thinking about trying tofu that had been frozen.

  6. VeggieGirl

    I’m a HUGE fan of kale, tofu, and stir-fry dishes, so you can only imagine the magnitude of my excitement when I saw this recipe and the photograph of the meal :0)

  7. Veganista

    I think your theory of what happens to tofu in freezing sounds pretty solid! :) It’s good to get tips on what to do with it–I haven’t always had success with my frozen tofu in the past, probably because I didn’t drain it properly. This stirfry and the green beans look so fresh!

  8. ashley

    your photos are beautiful. :) i didn’t know that much about frozen tofu so i appreciate you writing about it. and the green bean salad looks so delicious.

  9. andreea

    i always somehow stayed away from tofu. this convinces me otherwise. i know one particular vegetarian friend who will be thankfull forever :)

  10. Matt

    Actually, freezing tofu changes the texture because the forming ice crystals force the proteins to line up in a more ordered fashion. As far as I know, it is the only food on Earth that is usefully altered by freezing.

  11. Katie

    I’ve learned from somewhere that freezing tofu is actually an ancient way of preserving during winter time in Northern Asia.

  12. VincentG

    I love freezing my tofu and then marinating it. It really does allow you to add more flavour. I find yu choy is good with tofu if you’re looking to experiment with other greens.

    Love the green beans!

  13. Caitlin

    I am new to your site and I love it. I was just looking for something to make for dinner and this is just right– I have some kale on hand so that’s great. Thanks!

  14. Anna

    Hi, what a nice blog! I stumbled over your knit-cupcakes :) How cute, I have to try and make those. Greetings from Sweden! //Anna

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  16. Rose

    I’m not a huge frozen tofu fan… I get super super firm tofu that isn’t packaged in water, so it’s kinda meaty anyway.

  17. Sara

    I just tried frozen tofu again last night after not having cooked it that way in years. I found it to be totally icky, probably because I’m just not used to it. I used to prefer it to be as chewy as possible, but I stopped freezing it out of sheer laziness (I usually don’t plan my meals so when it’s time to cook, I don’t have time to defrost it and press it.) My boyfriend didn’t say anything about it but he usually raves over tofu, so I’m going to take it as a thumbs down from him as well.

  18. K

    VERY interesting theories. i haven’t frozen tofu yet, even tho i’ve been eating it for 20 years now… never felt like it would improve its regular “state” and was in fear that it might make it “weird” to cook with… Great post, thanks for this.

  19. Kitty

    That tofu looks absolutely delicious! I used to freeze tofu just because I could never finish it before spoilage, but it never quite turned out as nice as that! And I learned a tofu lesson the hard way: freeze them in single servings so you don’t have to cut through hard chunks of frozen tofu everytime you feel like using some!

  20. DeerDominique

    Yes to frozen tofu! Freeze, Thaw, Squeeze, Slice, Press, Cube, Panko, Fry! I am powerless. I usually toss the cubes with some ‘Braggs’ before the Panko. It seems so labor intensive, but so worth it to me.
    Just found you! Beautiful Pics and great recipes. I am not Vegan, but we eat vegan fairly often, so thanks for all the sharing!
    Oh! I also wanted to point out that if you ‘finish’ the fried tofu in the oven, a lot of the oil will move on out, I put my fried tofu on a paper bag on a cookie sheet in a 350 oven.

  21. Minnie

    I’ve also learned that fermenting tofu is a way of preserving tofu which I would like to try due to its more natural preservation of the food ingrediences.

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