Ketchup Braised Tofu

There is so much ketchup in the house right now.  What possessed me to buy this giant bottle?  I actually read a post on Cupcakes and Cashmere about this laundry product Fels Naptha that will get rid of stains.  It's less than $2 and if you buy it on Amazon (affiliate link) you either have to buy a dozen of them, pay $8 for shipping, or fill up a Prime Pantry box for free delivery.  I did the latter, and that is how I wound up with 64 ounces of a red condiment I use maaaaybe once a month.


(Sidebar - Fels Naptha totally works and is amazing.)

Anyhoo, one of my pet peeves is having food just sit around unused.  So I start googling BBQ sauce recipes with ketchup, ketchup pasta sauce, things that require massive amounts of ketchup!  Abe loves Mark Bittman's recipes, and we have tofu in the house, so I look up "Mark Bittman + tofu + ketchup."  To my surprise, a recipe for Ketchup Braised Tofu turns up.  WHAT IN THE WHAT?!?


The recipe isn't written out - it's #94 on his quick 101 Simple Meals from the NY Times.  It involves dredging tofu in flour and browning them in oil.  Then, using the same skillet, reduce the ketchup into a thick sauce with some garlic.  The result is a caramelized and more sophisticated version that doesn't taste as weird as you think it might.  In fact, it's pretty good!


I used this Stainless Steel skillet (a gift from Anolon) but would recommend going with a nonstick to avoid oil burn stains, as the tofu/ketchup does tend to get quite brown.  Obviously the Fels Naptha didn't work on this (I didn't even try) and I wound up sending Abe out for some Bar Keepers Friend to clean it!

Ketchup Braised Tofu


  • 1 Package Firm Tofu, pressed and drained

  • 2-3 Tablespoons All Purpose Flour

  • 1 Teaspoon Chili Powder

  • 1/2 cup Vegetable Oil

  • 4 Cloves Garlic, Minced

  • 1 1/2 Cups Ketchup

  • Juice of 1 Lemon

  • Salt and Pepper


  1. Press/Drain the tofu, and cut into 12 pieces. 

  2. In a shallow bowl, combine the flour, chili powder, and a pinch of salt/pepper. 

  3. Heat half the oil in a skillet over medium high heat. Dredge the tofu pieces in the flour mixture and fry on both sides until brown (about 4-5 minutes). Don't overcrowd the pan; cook them in batches, adding more oil as needed. Transfer the cooked tofu to a separate plate, lined with a paper towel.

  4. Wipe the skillet clean with another paper towel, then add another tablespoon of oil to the pan. Add the garlic and cook for a minute, then add the ketchup. 

  5. Let the ketchup cook over medium high heat for 5 minutes, until thickened and slightly reduced. Add salt and pepper to taste, then put the cooked tofu back into the pan with the ketchup. Coat the tofu, and squeeze with lemon juice before serving over rice.