Thai Chili Karaage Tofu and Veggies

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After college, I took two years off before going to graduate school and during that time, I lived a dual life. During the day, I was a HIV researcher at a Boston hospital. At night I waitressed at a sushi restaurant where my love for Japanese food grew and grew and grew… So when presented with the chance to sample a new Kikkoman product a couple of weeks ago, I was all over it!

As part of the Foodbuzz Tastemaster Program, I received a free sample of Kikkoman Karaage. Karaage is a Japanese cooking technique (similar to tempura) where food–usually meat, is coated and fried (I had actually never heard of Karaage before!!!). In fact, the package says “great for chicken and fish.” Ah, I don’t eat meat… but I love a challenge, so I was determined to make a super tasty veggie Karaage dish. And not to toot my own horn, but I nailed this one ;).

The Karaage package calls for the food to be dipped in water and coated with their soy-ginger seasoned coating mix. But, I know all too well that when cooking veggies and tofu, you need to take every opportunity possible to infuse flavor into the dish. So, I sidestepped the water and made a concoction of Thai chili sauce, coconut milk, and other goodness. I then mimicked these flavors in the dipping sauce I made and a new tasty treat was born! Although I’m not the biggest fried food fan, I will say that I’ll definitely use this Karaage mix again. It was super easy, the prep was quick, the flavors melded together nicely, the texture was airy and crisp, and get this… from the ingredient list, it looks like the mix is vegan!

Thai Chili Karaage Tofu and Veggies (Printable Recipe)


1 box (2 packets) Kikkoman Kara-Age Seasoning Mix

1 block extra firm tofu–drained, sliced, and pressed (see this post for details on pressing tofu)

1 large broccoli crown

1 cup shiitake mushrooms

2 tablespoons Thai chili sauce

1 tablespoon Tamari (or soy sauce)

1 teaspoon seasoned rice vinegar

1/2 teaspoon sesame oil

1/2 cup light coconut milk

vegetable oil

Thai Chili Dipping Sauce (see below)


*Press tofu (at least 1 hour ahead of time). Wash, dry, and cut veggies.  Whisk chili sauce, Tamari, sesame oil, vinegar, and coconut milk; set aside. Add one Kara-age packet to a large zip lock bag. Add the second Kara-age packet to shallow dish or pie plate.

*Paint chili sauce mixture onto veggies, allowing excess liquid to drip off. Add veggies to zip lock bag with Kara-age mix. Close bag and shake until veggies are fully coated. Delicately remove coated veggies from dry mix. Set aside.

*Heat vegetable oil (enough so that the oil is about 1 1/2 inches deep) in large, heavy frying pan over medium/medium high heat to about 350 degrees F. Fry veggies in oil, turning frequently for 2-4 minutes. When golden brown, remove veggies from the frying pan and drain on paper towels.

*Paint all sides of the pressed tofu with the chili sauce mixture, allowing excess liquid to drip off. Lightly dredge the tofu in the Kara-age that is in the shallow dish/pie plate, being sure to shake off excess mix. Fry, turning frequently for 2-4 minutes. When the tofu is golden brown, remove the tofu from the frying pan and drain completely.

*Serve the Karaage Tofu and Veggies with Thai chili dipping sauce, or other sauce of choice.

Thai Chili Dipping Sauce


1 teaspoon Thai chili sauce

1 squirt Sriracha

2 tablespoons Tamari (or soy sauce)

1 teaspoon seasoned rice vinegar

1/4 teaspoon sesame oil

2 tablespoons agave

1 tablespoon orange juice

4 tablespoons light coconut milk

large pinch curry powder


*Whisk all ingredients and serve!

Written by

Tiffany M. Griffin is the woman behind Como Water, Washington DC’s premiere veg-centric cuisine consulting company. Through cooking classes, demonstrations, catering, and consultations, Como Water gives people the opportunity to learn how to prepare veg-centric cuisine that boasts maximum flavor, with minimal effort. Tiffany is quickly becoming a go-to expert on the future of veg-centric cuisine, and is a regular contributor to Como Water, the blog, as well as to vegetarian and vegan sites across the Internet. For over a decade, this self-taught, entrepreneurial expert has developed a set of tried and true techniques for making simple, delicious, and sometimes decadent veg-centric dishes. Featured on the Steve Harvey Show and other leading media outlets, Tiffany was born and raised in Springfield, MA. She then earned Bachelors degrees in Psychology and Communications from Boston College and a PhD in Social Psychology from the University of Michigan. She now resides in Washington DC, where she has worked in the US Senate and at a federal agency on issues around health, food, nutrition, and international food aid/development, and of course, as the owner of Como Water. Tiffany gets culinary inspiration from the food she grew up eating, and from her travels throughout Latin America, the Caribbean, Western Europe, and Sub-Saharan Africa. She is dedicated to sharing her wealth of knowledge on veg-centric cuisine with others and to help others live by her mantra—love life, live long, and eat veg-centric cuisine!


  1. I’m fairly certain I could eat my weight in those mushrooms. Wowsa! Great dishes 🙂 Again, you make me wanna be a vegetarian, you naughty girl! Buzzed

  2. I would love this for dinner! I have yet to try this type of tofu, but I will have to look for it next time I am at the store!

  3. Well alright now, nothing like a challenge. And nothing like NAILING IT!! Thanks for introducing me to Karaage, I think the part time vegans in my family will love this.

  4. I wish you still lived in Durham, because then I could show up at your house at dinner time. Another fantastic looking dish.

  5. Awesome concoction and picture. My youngest sister didn’t believe it was tofu.. she said it looked too good !

  6. You kara-aged veggies?! Girl- you so crazy and I love it! This sounds super tasty!!

  7. This sounds really very flavorful!

  8. this is comfort japanese style food! wowzers. hope you are having a fabulous week tiffany!

  9. What a wonderful idea this was!! It all looks amazing and I’m not even a vegetarian. I would definitely dive right into this!!

  10. Pretty darn cool! I love that you got to try a new product and made something completely different with it! Buzzed!

  11. WOW, this Karaage looks awesome! Great way to taste a new product 🙂

  12. Love those tofu triangles! So tasty!

  13. What a great way to serve tofu!

  14. All I can say is Wow. I want some now! Well done!

  15. This is for sure my kind of food Tiffany, fantastic outcome and so so yummy, to tell you truth – my tummy is really growing now.

  16. Superb and creative meal!

  17. i love love love everything on this dish,wel done,great recipe im sure i will save it 🙂

  18. i’ll definitely be making this…that crispy coating looks amazing. thanks for the recipe!

  19. Ooo this looks awesome, so crispy and delicious. Way to go on finding something wonderful to coat it with other then meat. Tofu seems like a perfect stand in.

  20. Oh my this does look good. I am a tofu lover and that dipping sauce sounds fab. I’ve not seen the kara-aged seasoning, will have to look for it. My kind of meal.

  21. I haven’t heard of karaage before, but it looks delicious. You definitely did a fabulous job here. Substituting a flavored sauce for the water was an excellent flavor adder.

  22. This sounds great with that soy-ginger sauce and thai chili sauce.

    Have you heard those Texas Pete Hot Sauce commercials where the old lady says “I put that sh*t on everything”? That’s me with chili sauces/flakes/etc. 🙂

  23. Oh my! This looks deliciously tempting – to turn back into a vegetarian! Fantastic, Tiffany.

  24. Oh, man, both the tofu and veggies look amazing!!! YUM!

  25. Yum! The mix sounds great and so does that dipping sauce!

  26. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – You’re a freaking genius. On many levels 🙂

  27. The first time I read the title is I said to myself : I want this for tom!
    Healthy & tasty! I want! Haha ha!
    Tq for sharing the recipe tif! Ur pic is great – lovely healthy karaage! 😉

  28. Very clever use of the product. HIV researcher – wow, sounds interesting.

  29. Look at you go! Love that you coated in the chili sauce first! All your veggies look great!

  30. This looks fantastic! I’d definitely say you did the right thing skipping the water and amping up the flavour.

  31. Way to take on the kaarage with veggies and tofu! And I love your flavor-infusing idea with the sweet chili instead of the water – genius!

  32. Your tofu looks amazing. It looks perfectly crispy and delicious. This may just be the recipe that gets the rest of my family to actually enjoy tofu (I’ve already converted my husband).

  33. Ohhhhhh MYYYYYY!!!! This dish is so inviting! I have never eaten karaage before either, but it sounds like something I would definitely enjoy! And look at those mushrooms… they look soooo cool!!! 🙂 Buzzed!

  34. Even if you weren’t going vegetarian, I think chicken would taste equally good dredged in the Thai chilli sauce and coconut milk concoction. That dipping sauce sounds good enough to lick the bowl when you’re finished!

  35. Tiffany…coming to your blog is always a wonderful adventure for me! I’ve never heard of karaage until now. But what you did here looks amazing! And so creative to use the chili sauce and coconut milk! I’m not a vegetarian….but I could just dive right into this crunchy crispy goodness! : )

  36. wow research and waitress on the same day ? ! That is awsm and some energy you had 🙂 This is great product and thanks for sharing with me.

  37. Ohh that looks great! I think my kids would totally eat their veggies if I did this. Thanks for sharing!

  38. I love how crisp that tofu looks! Yummy!

  39. I am drooling over the pictures of those crispy tofu! It sounds like a perfect snack for my family 🙂

  40. Appreciate your varied life interests 🙂

    Very BUZZABLE recipe, great post!

  41. I love how you made this..Very delicious looking and of course your presentation is amazing!!!

  42. How interesting! I have never heard of these before either, but I looove tempura (who doesnt like fried things) so I need to get experimenting. Great photos as always 🙂

  43. Sounds and looks awesome !!! What if we pan fry or pan-sear instead of deep frying? Do you think it would work?

    Buzzed ya for this …

  44. Oh my goodness, Tiff! I sooo love the look of your Karaage Tofu and Veggies! You just never stop amazing me with your fabulous creations!

  45. Wow- I’ve never even heard of karaage! But after this it’s on my list of things to try for sure!!

  46. Thanks for the comments everyone! 😀

  47. Thats a lovely dip Tiffany to go with the others prepared, I too don’t fancy too much of fried stuffs but the tofu is something I cannot resist.

  48. I love the mix of flavors in this dish! I don’t eat enough Thai food, but I have enjoyed everything I have tried. Anything with Chili in the name has my attention:-) I love finding tofu recipes that are packed full of flavor, I definitely enjoy tofu more then. Beautiful dish! Hugs, Terra

  49. Wow, this looks absolutely amazing! I’m pretty new to the whole Vegan way of cooking but this looks like something I could pull off!

  50. Very creative dish Tiffany! What a great way to use it for vegetables and shiitake mushrooms!