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This steamed tofu recipe is SO EASY because instead of steaming it the traditional way, we’re going to use our microwave. But just because it’s easy doesn’t mean it’s not delicious! The sauce is so flavorful that you’ll find yourself drenching your rice in it.

If you’re feeling too lazy to prepare a fully balanced, nutritionally complete meal but want to avoid guilt, this dish is your solution.


Tofu, derived from soybeans, belongs to the legume family, contributing to the vegetable food group. It is also one of the rare plant-based foods classified as a complete protein, containing all nine essential amino acids.

Tofu = soybeans = complete protein
Tofu = soybeans = legume = vegetable

So…winner, winner, tofu dinner?!

Keys to success

1. Discard as much water released from the tofu as possible.
Tofu contains a significant amount of water. Even after draining the water from the box, you’ll notice additional water released while letting it sit and during the “steaming” process. Discard as much as possible to prevent dilution of your sauce later.

2. Slice the tofu directly on your serving plate.
This recipe calls for soft tofu, which is notorious for breaking at the slightest touch. Avoid transferring it between multiple surfaces.

Pro tip: after draining the water from the tofu box, place your serving plate facedown over the box, flip it over, and remove the box. Now you can slice your tofu!

3. Add a crispy topping.
I highly recommend garnishing with crispy fried shallots for both flavor and texture. The crunch, combined with the silkiness of the tofu, elevates this dish beyond a simple “whipped up in 10 minutes” creation. You can substitute with crumbled roasted peanuts or Lao Gan Ma’s chili crisp if you prefer more heat.

A close-up photograph of the steamed tofu dish

Can I use any kind of tofu?

The firmest I’d recommend is medium-firm tofu. Steamed tofu dishes typically call for soft tofu due to its mild flavor. The silkiness is also what makes this dish irresistible!

Not a fan of cilantro?

Good news! You can omit cilantro without any large impact to the dish. Simply garnish with more scallions. For those of us lucky enough not to have the gene making cilantro taste like soap, adding it will give the final dish a more earthy flavor.

What if I don’t have a microwave?

Color me shocked. But no worries! You can definitely steam this on the stovetop using the traditional method. Follow all the tips for preparing the tofu, but steam it for 10 minutes over medium-low heat until heated through. Let it rest for 5 minutes and discard any water that pools on the plate after steaming. Proceed with the recipe as usual.

What can I pair this dish with?

While this dish is GREAT on its own, it also pairs well with any simple Asian leafy green stir-fry (think bok choy or gai lan). It also works well as an appetizer!

Print Recipe
5 from 1 vote

Steamed Tofu with Garlic and Scallion Sauce

The easiest and most delicious way of eating "steamed" tofu. Serve it over rice and you have a complete meal!
Prep Time5 minutes
Cook Time5 minutes
Total Time10 minutes
Course: Appetizer, Main Course, Side Dish
Cuisine: Chinese
Keyword: 15-minute meals
Servings: 2
Calories: 234kcal


  • Microwave-safe plate


  • 1 block soft tofu sliced into 1/2-inch slices
  • 2 Tbsp crispy fried shallots optional
  • 4 stalks cilantro roughly chopped (optional)

For the fragrant oil:

  • 1.5 Tbsp neutral oil like canola or avocado or peanut
  • 1 Tbsp sesame oil
  • 4 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 tsp chili flakes
  • 2 stalks scallions chopped (reserve some for garnish)


  • 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 2 Tbsp low sodium soy sauce (or 1 Tbsp soy sauce + 1 Tbsp water)
  • 1 Tbsp chinkiang vinegar or black vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp oyster sauce or vegetarian oyster sauce


  • Discard the water from the tofu. Let it sit for a few minutes to draw out more water as you prepare the rest of the ingredients.
  • Combine sauce ingredients in a small bowl, mix well, and set aside.
  • Discard the water from the tofu. Then invert the tofu from the box onto a microwave-safe serving plate. Slice the tofu into 1/2-inch slices (do it directly on the plate). Using your palm, gently push the tofu slices to "tilt" slightly, so that each piece is sitting above the other. This allows more surface area for the sauce to coat.
  • Microwave tofu for 3-5 minutes until heated through. This is our “cheat” method of steaming. Discard released water.
  • While you microwave the tofu, heat up 1.5 Tbsp oil and 1 Tbsp sesame oil over medium-low heat until slightly smoking. Turn off the heat. Add in the scallions and garlic and stir to release the aromatics. Then, add the chili flakes and stir through.
  • Turn heat to medium. Add the sauce and stir through until the sauce begins to bubble for a couple of seconds. Turn off the heat and pour the sauce over the tofu slices.
  • Garnish with reserved scallions, cilantro, and crispy fried shallots. Serve immediately with steamed white rice. Enjoy!


Calories: 234kcal