Gluten-free, Vegan/Vegetarian

Laotian Sweet and Sour Tofu

Loreto October 10, 2020

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Laotian Sweet and Sour Tofu. This dish screams color, texture, and humungous flavor!  The play on sweet and savory plays so well with the stir-fried vegetables and crisp tofu creating a delightful experience for your taste buds!

Song of the day: “Ain’t Nobody” by Chaka Khan.

Laotian Sweet and Sour Tofu-plate and pan

Laotian Sweet and Sour Tofu. If you like Asian cuisine, then do I have a dish for you! It will tantalize your taste buds to no end and you will find that you may feel like you are finished eating, however, it keeps calling you back for just a bit more, similar to eating chips, you can’t just eat one serving!


Where are we this month?

When I heard where we were stopping this month on The Eat the World tour I was so excited. Nicoletta didn’t even rally for wanting to do a recipe, more so, she knew that I absolutely love this type of cuisine, so she bowed out and allowed me to play! However, she did help me with getting the dish together, always working as a team! Today we are traveling to Laos and we are creating Laotian Sweet and Sour Tofu!

A bit about Laos

Laos is a Southeast Asian country known for its mountains and lush terrain. Did you know that they say Buddhas Breastbone lays in Laos? Thinking about Laos, all I kept envisioning is color and flavor. Nicoletta and I did some research and came to the conclusion that we wanted something vegetarian and also fun and easy to make. That is why we chose this particular dish. I think you would agree it is colorful and resonates joyfulness, deliciousness!

Prepping the tofu and vegetables

I always say the key to a great stir fry is organization and having all the ingredients ready. The list goes something like this:

  • Drain the tofu and cut into bite-size cubes
  • Cut up the carrots, celery, peppers, into thin slivers
  • Wash and trim long green beans and broccolini
  • Chop up the onion and mince the garlic
  • Wash and pat dry the snow peapods

Laotian Sweet and Sour Tofu-ingredients

It’s all about the sauce!

 To get that balance of sweet and sour we need a few things:

  • sweet soy sauce
  • light soy sauce
  • tamarind
  • hoisin sauce
  • sweet chili sauce
  • ketchup
  • Chinese five-spice
  • white pepper
  • sugar
  • rice wine vinegar
  • cornstarch 
  • water

Laotian Sweet and Sour Tofu-frying tofu

Texture is the bomb!

When I eat a stir fry dish like this Laotian Sweet and Sour Tofu, I want a nice play in texture: crunch, crisp, succulent, and tenderness! 

  1. First things first, we need to get those lovely cubes of tofu marinated with soy sauce, and then all coated with cornstarch. This will crisp up when we fry them in the hot oil in the wok. After they are nice and crisp onto a paper towel-lined dish they go, to soak up any excess oil.
  2. Secondly, time to get those veggies cooked up. I use peanut oil and sesame oil in the wok. When it’s nice and hot I begin slowly adding the harder veggies first, followed by the softer one after. Stir-frying demands lots of tossing. We don’t want those veggies steamed, we want that end result of crunch at first bite,  followed by some tenderness.
  3. Thirdly, we toss in our crispy tofu just before the veggies are almost done! A quick toss and we are ready to finish this amazing dish!

Flavor, flavor!

It is time to get the flavor into the wok. Before starting, I took all the ingredients for the sauce and whisked it in a bowl. I also mixed up some cold water and cornstarch!

Time to get this mixture into the hot wok. Slowly pour it in and toss and turn, flip with no flop! Wow, the aroma coming off the wok is amazingly sweet, acidic, savory, my stomach is growling!

Laotian Sweet and Sour Tofu-in the pan    

Do you like what you see?

I am totally proud of how this turned out. It has color, aroma, texture and the addition of the toasted sesame seeds makes it a thing of beauty. Nicoletta is quite excited to try and she is giving me that look, similar to I’M HUNGRY! lol.

So why not, let’s eat!

Laotian Sweet and Sour Tofu-feature-plate-pan-chopsticks

Where do I start?

My mind is just buzzing. There is so much to try! Honestly, the first thing is that tofu! I love the crispiness of the surface and then you bite in deeper and there is this moist luxurious melt in your mouth creaminess! Then the veggies: the snow peas, crisp, sweet, along with those onions, and slivered carrots, and peppers. I like how the celery offers this nice fresh lightly peppery note to the whole and the broccolini that earthy-sweet deep robust richness we love so much. 

Let’s talk sauce!

What really pulls everything together in this Laotian Sweet and Sour Tofu, is that sweet and sour sauce. I love how the ketchup is deepened with the hoisin, tamarind, and soy. Then the vinegar comes up with a right hook to your taste buds only to be leveled out by the sugar. It is like a flavor explosion. Absolutely love it!

Final thoughts

We always feel so honored to be a part of this fantastic group. Oh, by the way, check out all the wonderful Laotian dishes prepared by fellow Eat the World members and share with #eattheworld. Click here to find out how to join and have fun exploring a country a month in the kitchen with us!

Culinary Adventures with Camilla: Khao Nom Kok (Lao Coconut Cakes)
Pandemonium Noshery: Laotian Party Noodles – Kua Mee
Making Miracles: Lao Grilled Chicken
Sneha’s Recipe Sai Gog Khao Jee
Kitchen Frau: Ping Gai (Lao Grilled Chicken Wings)
Sugarlovespices (us!): Laotian Sweet and Sour Tofu
A Day in the Life on the Farm: Pork Larb
Cultureatz: Pumpkin Coconut Milk Custard ( Sang kaya mak eu)

So join all of us in Laos and let’s cook up some of these exotic dishes together!


Laotian Sweet and Sour Tofu-plate and pan

Laotian Sweet and Sour Tofu

  • Author: Loreto Nardelli
  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Cook Time: 30 minutes
  • Total Time: 50 minutes
  • Yield: serves 4-6 people 1x
  • Category: Main, Vegetarian
  • Method: Stove top
  • Cuisine: Laotian cuisine


Laotian Sweet and Sour Tofu, This dish screams color, texture and humungous flavor!  The play on sweet and savory plays so well with the stir fried vegetables and crisp tofu creating a delightful experience for your taste buds!


The Tofu:

  • 350 g (1 package) medium-firm tofu
  • 2 tbsp light soy sauce
  • 1 cup cornstarch
  • 1/8 cup vegetable oil
  • salt for seasoning

The veggies:

  • 2 tbsp peanut oil
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 2 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 small onion chopped
  • 1 carrot, cut into julienne strips
  • 1 stick celery, cut into julienne strips
  • 1 each small red/ yellow (bell) peppers, cored, seeded, and sliced into julienne strips
  • 125 g (8 oz) mangetout (snow peas), trimmed and halved
  • 200 g (4 oz) broccolini, trimmed and divided into florets
  • 125 g (4 oz) thin green beans, halved

Sweet and sour sauce:

  • 1 tbsp each of  sweet soy sauce, tamarind sauce, hoisin, tomato ketchup, light soy sauce, sweet chili sauce, sugar, and white rice wine vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp Chinese five-spice
  • a pinch of white pepper
  • 1 tbsp cornstarch
  • 1/4  cup cold water


  • 1 tbsp toasted sesame seeds


The tofu:

  1. Drain tofu and pat dry with some paper towel, cut into bite-size pieces and toss gently with the soy sauce. Let sit for 5-10 minutes.
  2. Drain the excess soy sauce and place tofu on a large plate with the cornstarch spread out. Coat the tofu pieces well.
  3. In a wok heat up vegetable oil to medium-high heat. Do not let it smoke. Shake off the excess cornstarch from the tofu and place them in the wok.
  4. Fry till nice and golden on all sides then take out and place on a paper towel-lined plate.
  5. Continue until all the tofu is done.

The veggies:

  1. Heat up peanut and sesame oil in a wok.
  2. Toss in green beans, and broccolini, stir fry for about 2 minutes then add in onion peppers, carrots, celery. Continue stir-frying for about 5 minutes.
  3. Time to toss back in crispy tofu and toss in the wok so it is well distributed.

The sweet and sour sauce:

  1. Combine all the ingredients for the sweet and sour sauce in a bowl, excluding the cornstarch and water. Whisk until blended well.
  2. Back to the wok we go, pour in a bit of the sauce at a time until you see the desired sauciness you want. Then mix the cornstarch with the water.
  3. Create a void in the center of the wok. Pour half the cornstarch mixture in and stir veggies and tofu back to the center. Continue stirring until the mixture thickens. If it is still too runny, add in more of the cornstarch mixture, however, just a bit at a time.


  1. Take wok off heat and garnish with toasted sesame seeds.
  2. Plate and serve.



If you don’t have all these types of veggies just use what you have.

Prep all your veggies ahead of time this will make it easier to prepare later.

You can use tomato paste instead of ketchup.

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Laotian Sweet and Sour Tofu-closeup-chopstick

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  • Avatar
    Reply Camilla M. Mann October 10, 2020 at 8:26 am

    That is a stunningly gorgeous dish. I can’t wait to try it.

    • Loreto
      Reply Loreto October 17, 2020 at 9:05 am

      You are very kind Camilla! Thank you!
      I sure do hope you get to try this one!

  • Avatar
    Reply Wendy Klik October 10, 2020 at 8:32 am

    Great flavors used to infuse the tofu. I’m sure it was luscious.

    • Loreto
      Reply Loreto October 18, 2020 at 7:46 am

      Hi Wendy, the tofu was incredible with that sot marinade then coated in cornstarch to get all crispy and golden brown. Absolutely delicious with the sweet and sour sauce! Thank you!

  • Avatar
    Reply Evelyne October 10, 2020 at 8:35 am

    oh Loreto, this looks simply divine and bursting with flavor. This is the second tofu recipe I come across this week that I would devour as a non firm tofu fan lol.

    • Loreto
      Reply Loreto October 17, 2020 at 9:05 am

      Thank you Evelyne! Yes I like the softer tofu. It is just perfect when you get that crispy surface then inside it is so soft and cramy! Wonderful with the sweet and sour sauce and all those lovely veggies!
      Happy cooking!

  • Avatar
    Reply Juli October 10, 2020 at 9:18 am

    That sounds like a delightful mix of textures and flavors!

    • Loreto
      Reply Loreto October 17, 2020 at 9:03 am

      Thanks Juli was pretty happy with the end result!

  • Avatar
    Reply Rebekah Hills October 10, 2020 at 12:30 pm

    The colors in this dish are just stunning – it looks so fresh and vibrant!

    • Loreto
      Reply Loreto October 17, 2020 at 9:01 am

      Thank you! You know what they say you eat with your eyes first! This dish for me definitely has my mouth watering and stomach growling!
      Happy Saturday to you!

  • Avatar
    Reply Margaret @ Kitchen Frau October 11, 2020 at 8:49 am

    Wow, what an explosion of flavour and colour. I LOVE anything with crispy tofu in it. You’ve sure got me drooling! Looks like fantastic, intense yumminess.

    • Loreto
      Reply Loreto October 17, 2020 at 8:59 am

      Thank you Margaret! I love dishes like this. The play of texture, the pallet of color and most of all that sweet sour flavor. Now I’m drooling! lol!
      Have a great week!

  • Avatar
    Reply Sharon October 13, 2020 at 5:02 am

    This is a wonderful dish that is so full of flavor! Great for making meatless lunches.

    • Loreto
      Reply Loreto October 17, 2020 at 8:58 am

      Thanks Sharon, I would have this dish any day of the week!

  • Avatar
    Reply Kathryn Donangelo October 14, 2020 at 9:34 am

    This recipe is so easy and has tons of flavor! I loved all the veggies in it and served it with rice rice. It was perfect. Thank you!

    • Loreto
      Reply Loreto October 17, 2020 at 8:56 am

      Wow, I am overwhelmed with joy that so many of you tried this dish! It was truly a show stopper in appearance, flavor and texture!
      Have a wonderful day!

  • Avatar
    Reply Amanda October 14, 2020 at 9:57 am

    This tofu came out so good! The texture was just perfect, and the sauce was bursting with flavor. I’ll definitely make this one again!

    • Loreto
      Reply Loreto October 17, 2020 at 8:54 am

      Hi Amanda, I am so grateful that you tried this. Yes that tofu was amazing and the sauce so vibrant. Was really happy with the dish and the colors so alive! Thanks for giving this a whirl!
      Happy cooking!

  • Avatar
    Reply Debra October 14, 2020 at 12:41 pm

    Always looking for new and interesting tofu recipes and this one did not disappoint. I served this with a side of simple cauli-rice and everyone loved it. Pinning to always have on hand when we need it.

    • Loreto
      Reply Loreto October 17, 2020 at 8:53 am

      Hi Debra, so happy to hear that you loved this recipe. What a great side cauli-rice. I have wanted to do that side for quite some time. I saw Jamie Oliver do it and it looked so good! Thank you for trying the recipe!

  • Avatar
    Reply Bernice Hill October 14, 2020 at 1:48 pm

    You’ve hit the nail on the head with this one Loreto! You had me at sweet and sour…and when I saw that you had made the tofu crispy, then coated with the sauce. Man! I’m in love. No need for take out when you have this recipe.

    • Loreto
      Reply Loreto October 17, 2020 at 8:51 am

      Thank you Bernice! You definitely made me laugh and smile. It is so true when you make dishes like this there is no need for take out! Have a wonderful day!
      And thank you again!

  • Avatar
    Reply AmysCookingAdventures October 14, 2020 at 8:27 pm

    What a beautiful dish!

    • Loreto
      Reply Loreto October 17, 2020 at 8:46 am

      Thank you, you are very kind. I loved creating this dish and love how the colors play with texture and flavor.
      Have a wonderful day!

    • Loreto
      Reply Loreto October 17, 2020 at 8:49 am

      Thanks, its easy when you have a culture that is colorful and rich!
      Happy cooking!

  • Avatar
    Reply Denise October 17, 2020 at 2:14 pm

    This Sweet and Sour Tofu looks amazing! The vegetables are so fresh and crisp, and the flavors sound wonderful.

    • Loreto
      Reply Loreto October 18, 2020 at 7:48 am

      Thank you Denise. Yes there was plenty of freshness, flavor, and texture. The end result just scrumptious and we kept going back to the platter to pick at bits and bites, especially those crispy morsels of tofu!

  • Avatar
    Reply Paula Montenegro October 18, 2020 at 12:28 pm

    Thanks for introducing me to food from Laos, very new to me! You got me interested in tofu and that is a huge plus. Can’t wait to try your technique of browning it and getting a great texture. Thanks for sharing!

    • Loreto
      Reply Loreto October 19, 2020 at 12:16 pm

      Your so welcome Paula. That’s what life is about getting to know each other through food, it sure takes the boundary from diverse cultures, plus the food is so so good!
      Thank you for checking this out and for being inspired!

  • Avatar
    Reply Tammy October 18, 2020 at 12:34 pm

    This is new to me but I’m definitely here for it!! Sounds and looks SO delicious. A good friend of mine is from Lao so I’d love to give this a try!

    • Loreto
      Reply Loreto October 19, 2020 at 12:13 pm

      That’s fantastic. Always nice to have friends from different parts of the world! Sure opens our creativity and food world!
      Thank you for sharing, cheers!

  • Avatar
    Reply Jagruti's Cooking Odyssey October 19, 2020 at 1:45 am

    This Laotian sweet and sour tofu is my kinda dish, loving lots of good flavours. A delicious dish that is packed with all goodness.

    • Loreto
      Reply Loreto October 19, 2020 at 12:11 pm

      Thank you, very important to put good things in your dishes. Happy Body, Happy mind and soul!

  • Avatar
    Reply Veronika Sykorova October 19, 2020 at 9:45 am

    I recently wanted to make sweet and sour sauce but bout it at whole foods and didn’t realize till I was at home that it had 30g of sugar! I ended up thowing it out cause it wasnt even good lol. Can’t wait to try your version!

    • Loreto
      Reply Loreto October 19, 2020 at 12:10 pm

      Hi Veronika, that is too bad. Yes a lot of those sauces have lots of sugar and salt. Can’t wait for you to try this one. Let me know how you make out!
      Happy cooking!
      Thank you for sharing!

  • Avatar
    Reply DigiSam October 22, 2020 at 2:10 am

    This is an Interesting Tofu recipe. Thank you, Ma’am, for sharing this. I served to my family and they all loved it. Please come up with more such recipes.

    • Loreto
      Reply Loreto October 26, 2020 at 7:32 am

      Thank you! So glad you liked it and that your family loved it too! Will definitely come up with more recipes like this.
      Have a wonderful day!

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