This Tofu fried rice is a vegan, easy one-pot meal made with onions, carrots, and rice (no eggs). It’s savory, filling, packed with healthy plant protein, and perfect as a main or side dish for lunch or dinner.
The Vegan Tofu Fried Rice Recipe
The classic and popular Japanese fried rice dish (Yakimeshi/Chahan) calls for rice, green onions, eggs, and Char Siu (Chinese BBQ Pork), seasoned simply with soy sauce, salt, and pepper.
In this vegan version of the recipe, I used Tofu (豆腐) instead of eggs and Char Siu. Tofu, bean curd made from soybeans, is a great meat substitute because unlike animal products its protein is healthy plant-based, plus it’s filling because rich in unsaturated fats. To add sweetness, I used onions.
Fried Rice vs Chahan vs Yakimeshi
Chahan (炒飯) is a Japanese word for “fried rice” derived from the Chinese word Chao Fan (炒飯), Chinese fried rice which was introduced to Japan from China between the 7th and 9th centuries. Yakimeshi (焼き飯) is also a Japanese word for “fried rice.”
Both Chahan and Yakimeshi are dishes in which rice is stir-fried with vegetables and other ingredients in oil to a light and fluffy consistency. It is said that the timing of adding eggs is different between Chahan and Yakimeshi, but there is no clear difference; they are basically the same thing.
Today, fried rice is enjoyed in many different arrangements.
Vegan Tofu Fried Rice Ingredients
This plant-based fried rice with Tofu is healthier than the original. For the ingredient measurements, please see the printable recipe card at the bottom of this blog post.
- Tofu: Firm or silken Tofu. A filling meat substitute with healthy plant protein and unsaturated fat.
- White rice (cooked): or use brown rice for extra nutrition and fillingness, and for WFPB.
- Onion: add sweetness
- Carrot: add sweetness
- Scallion: for cooking and fresh garnishing
- Garlic & ginger: I almost always use these two in savory dishes to add basic flavor.
- Soy sauce: I like Japanese soy sauce. Swap with Tamari for gluten-free.
- Salt & pepper: basic seasonings
- Sesame oil: I like to use sesame oil for Japanese and Asian food for its flavor. Omit for WFPB.
How To Make Japanese Tofu Fried Rice
Here is how to make Japanese-style fried rice using Tofu, provided with step-by-step instructions with photos.
STEP 1: Drain Tofu
First, drain the Tofu using one of the following two methods.
- Wrap Tofu in a paper towel, place a weight (plate, frying pan, etc.) on top, and let stand for 30 to 60 minutes.
- Quick method: wrap Tofu in a paper towel and place it on a microwave-safe plate, then place a microwave-safe bowl (weight) on top of the Tofu. Then, microwave for 2 minutes. This method is commonly used in Japan. I do this way because it is a lot quicker.
STEP 2: Mince Onion
Mince onion as finely as possible to easily cook off the excess liquid.
STEP 3: Sauté Onion
Heat sesame oil in a frying pan, and add the onions and sauté until tender. Cook gently over low heat to bring out the sweetness of the onions without burning them. I like to cook onions over very low heat for 10 to 20 minutes. The onions don’t burn over very low heat.
Tip: once the onions are spread out, rather than sautéing them with a spatula, do not move the onions, leave them alone and let them cook through.
STEP 4: Mince Vegetables
In the meantime, mince ginger, garlic, carrots, and scallion.
Divide scallion: we will stir in the white part of the scallion near the root in the beginning. Divide the green part for cooking in the end and for garnishing raw.
STEP 5: Stir in Vegetables
Stir in ginger, garlic, carrots, and the white part of the scallion, and cook and stir over medium heat.
STEP 6: Stir in Tofu
Move the ingredients to the side of the pan, leaving half the space empty.
Dice Tofu on your hand with a knife and put it in the pan. Stir-fry Tofu until dry, then pour the soy sauce over Tofu and stir-fry until Tofu is slightly crispy.
STEP 7: Stir in Rice
Add rice and stir-fry, breaking it up as you cut it with a spatula. Stir-fry until light and fluffy.
STEP 8: Final Seasoning
Lastly, stir in the green part of the scallion, and cook and stir lightly. Season with salt and pepper.
Fluffy, savory Tofu fried rice is ready.
Sprinkle with fresh scallions for a fresh flavor.
How to Serve Tofu Fried Rice
Light and filling, Tofu fried rice is ideal as a main or side dish for lunch or dinner. It can also be used in rice bowls and salads. It is also delicious served with marinated or roasted vegetables and fruits. I like to put Umami-filled Japanese-style spicy miso sauce on it.
- Silken Tofu for fried rice? Firm Tofu (Momen) is more suitable for fried rice because it does not fall apart easily, but Silken Tofu (Kinugoshi) can also be used without problems. This time, I used Mori-Nu Silken Tofu to show that it works. So, don’t give up on making fried rice with silken Tofu. In Latin America, Morinaga Silken Tofu is often sold at Walmart and other stores even in suburban cities, but Firm Tofu is not readily available unless you are in the capital. I was so lucky to find Mori-Nu Silken Tofu in the suburbs of Costa Rica and Mexico.
- A-day-old rice for fried rice? Old rice is said to be dry and easy to stir-fry, but it has lost its flavor and is not as good as fried rice made with freshly cooked rice. Transfer freshly cooked rice to a plate and cool it at room temperature for about 2 to 5 minutes to allow the moisture to evaporate and make it easier to stir-fry.
- By using Tofu instead of meat, calories can be cut significantly. In addition, reducing the amount of rice and using Tofu as a substitute, or replacing white rice with brown rice, will increase the nutritional value and make the dish even healthier.
- Add about 1/4 teaspoon of Garam Masala along with salt and pepper at the end of the cooking stage for extra flavor.
How to Store Tofu Fried Rice and How Long does it Last
As with rice, fried rice should be eaten immediately or stored in the refrigerator or freezer to prevent the growth of Bacillus cereus.
It will keep for up to 1 day in the refrigerator and 1 month in the freezer.
Best frozen immediately!
Is This Tofu Fried Rice Recipe Vegan, WFPB, Gluten-Free?
This fried rice is vegan, substituting animal-based eggs and meat with Tofu.
For WFPB (Whole Food Plant-Based), replace white rice with brown rice and omit the oil. Cook in water, etc. instead of oil or use a non-stick pan.
For Gluten-Free, replace soy sauce with Tamari sauce.
If you try this recipe, feel free to leave a comment, rate it, and tag a photo @izumimizokawa on Instagram🍚🥢
Tofu Fried Rice (Vegan Japanese 焼き飯)
- 1 Tofu Firm or Silken
- 2 cups rice cooked. *See Notes.
- ½ onion or 1 small onion
- 1 carrot small
- 1 scallion
- 2 cloves garlic
- ½ tsp ginger
- 1 tsp soy sauce
- 1 tsp salt plus more to taste
- ⅛ tsp pepper
- ½ Tbsp sesame oil
- Drain Tofu.
*For a quick method, see Step 1 in the blog post above.
- Mince onion as finely as possible to easily cook off the excess liquid.
- Heat sesame oil in a pan, add the onions, and sauté until tender over low heat. Once the onions are spread out, leave them alone, and let them cook through.
- In the meantime, mince ginger, garlic, carrots, and scallion.
- Stir in ginger, garlic, carrots, and the white part of the scallion. Cook and stir over medium heat.
- Move the ingredients to the side of the pan, leaving half the space empty. Dice Tofu on your hand with a knife and put it in the pan. Stir-fry Tofu until dry, then pour the soy sauce over Tofu and stir-fry until crispy.
- Add rice and stir-fry, breaking it up as you cut it with a spatula. Stir-fry until light and fluffy.
- Lastly, stir in the green part of the scallion. Cook and stir lightly. Season with salt and pepper.
- Fluffy, savory Tofu fried rice is ready. Garnish with fresh scallions for a fresh flavor. Drizzle spicy miso sauce for rich Umami flavor.
- Firm and Silken Tofu: both Silken and Firm Tofu can be used for fried rice without any problem. For this blog post, I used Mori-Nu Silken Tofu.
- A-day-old rice: old rice has lost its flavor significantly and is not as good as fried rice made with freshly cooked rice. Transfer freshly cooked rice to a plate and cool it at room temperature for about 2 to 5 minutes to allow the moisture to evaporate, which will make it easier to stir-fry.
- Storage: fried rice will keep for up to 1 day in the refrigerator and 1 month in the freezer. Like cooked rice, storing fried rice at room temperature is not recommended. BEST frozen immediately.
- For WFPB, replace white rice with brown rice and omit the oil. Cook in water, etc. instead of oil, or use a non-stick pan.
- For Gluten-Free, replace soy sauce with Tamari sauce.
- For more helpful tips, see “Recipe Tips” in this blog post.
- Nutrition information below is an estimate.
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