Are you wanting to try Panda Express' eggplant tofu, but can't find a restaurant that carries it on their menu? The wait is over. Try our copycat version of eggplant tofu and you won't be disappointed. It's everything you hoped it would be: sweet, spicy, savory, and finger licking good.
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The ingredients for this recipe are easy to find at your local grocery store and keep well in your pantry or fridge. None of them are expensive, so feel free to stock up so you can make this delicious recipe whenever the mood strikes.
- Fat: olive oil or any other high smoke point oil
- Vegetables: eggplant, red bell peppers, green onion
- Aromatics: garlic and ginger
- Dried spices: red pepper flakes, black pepper
- Liquids: vegetable broth, soy sauce or liquid aminos, rice vinegar, sambal oelek chili paste
- Sweetener: white granulated sugar
- Thickener: cornstarch or arrowroot
Does Panda Express still have eggplant tofu?
Yes, but it is a regional dish and is only available at select restaurants where the demand for it is high.
Is this recipe good for you?
On the Panda Express website they state their eggplant tofu is a "mixture of browned tofu, eggplant, red bell pepper all in a proprietary sweet and spicy sauce." It is high in fat due to the oil used in frying the eggplant.
For a 6.1 ounce (1 cup) serving size, there are 340 calories, 23g of carbs, 24g of fat, 7g of protein, and 3g of dietary fiber. For our copycat recipe of the same serving size, there are 281 calories, 13.7g of carbs, 23.1g of fat, 7.4g of protein and 3.4g of dietary fiber. As you can see our recipe is lower in calories and in carbs. For more nutritional information, please scroll to the end of the recipe card.
What foods are vegan at Panda Express?
As of 2020, there are six items that are vegan on their menu. The side dishes are eggplant tofu, available at select locations, super greens, chow mein, brown and white rice. The only appetizer is their vegetable spring roll.
What can I serve this recipe with?
Since Panda Express markets this recipe as a side dish, you'll want to serve it with another side like our copycat Panda Express Super Greens, Fried Rice or Chow Mein.
How to Make
Gather all the ingredients. Make sure the tofu is drained and pressed before cutting into cubes.
To make the sauce, whisk all the ingredients together, except the cornstarch and water, in a 2 cup measuring cup or a bowl, then set aside. It will make one cup of sauce.
Heat up 3 tablespoons of oil in a wok over medium high heat, then add the cubed tofu and fry until golden brown. Drain on a paper towel-lined plate.
Add more oil to the wok and stir fry the eggplant until soft. You'll need to add more oil while stir frying, as it will soak up the oil quickly. Drain it on a separate paper towel lined plate.
Add 1 tablespoon of oil and stir fry the red bell peppers until soft, roughly 2 minutes, then drain on top of the eggplant.
Add ½ tablespoon of oil to the wok and stir fry the garlic, ginger, and red pepper flakes for 30 seconds, then remove.
Whisk the sauce and pour it into the wok to let it thicken, roughly 1 minute.
Add the tofu, vegetables, and garlic mixture back to the wok, then gently stir until well coated.
Serve warm with a garnish of green onion.
- Need this gluten free? Use gluten free vegetable broth, liquid aminos, and arrowroot.
- Want the sauce spicier? Increase the red pepper flakes in the aromatics and the chili paste.
- Want more protein? Add shiitake mushrooms, chicken, beef, or pork.
- Want another garnish? Add white and black sesame seeds.
- Want to lower the fat? Bake or air fry the eggplant to reduce the oil, but this will change the texture.
- Have everything ready before starting the cooking process.
- Mix the sauce up first, but add the cornstarch slurry just before using.
- Drain the tofu and eggplant on paper towel-lined plates to absorb extra oil.
- A lot of the oil used in the recipe is to stir fry the eggplant.
- If you have the time, you can salt the eggplant for 20 minutes to draw out the moisture.
Looking for other Panda Express copycat recipes?
- Teriyaki Chicken
- Kung Pao Chicken
- Firecracker Chicken
- Sweet Fire Chicken
- Mushroom Chicken
- String Bean Chicken
- Black Pepper Chicken
- Fried Rice
- Chow Mein
- Super Greens
Looking for other Asian recipes?
- Vegetable Stir Fry with Orange Sauce
- Chicken and Broccoli Stir Fry
- Thai Vegetable Stir Fry
- Thai Red Curry Noodle Soup
- Vegan Thai Red Curry
- Crispy Baked Teriyaki Tofu
- Crispy Baked Peanut Tofu
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Panda Express Eggplant Tofu Copycat Recipe
For the Stir Fry
- ½ cup + 1 tablespoon olive oil, 125g
- 1 pound eggplant, cut in chunks with peel (453g)
- 1 pound extra firm tofu, cubed (400g)
- 2 red bell peppers, cut in chunks (190g)
- 1 tablespoon garlic, minced
- 1 tablespoon ginger, grated
- ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 3 tablespoons green onion, chopped (optional)
- Whisk all the sauce ingredients (except the cornstarch and water for the slurry) in a bowl or a measuring cup.
- Drain the tofu. We used super firm, which doesn't need to be pressed. If you're using extra firm, press the tofu for 30 minutes before proceeding with the recipe.
- Cut the tofu into cubes. Heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a wok over medium high heat, then add the tofu. Fry in oil until golden, then drain on a paper towel-lined plate.
- Heat up 3 tablespoons of oil, add the eggplant and stir fry until softened, roughly 4 minutes. Stir constantly, adding more oil when needed, as it soaks up the oil quickly. Drain on a paper towel-lined plate.
- Heat up 1 tablespoon of oil, stir fry the red bell peppers for 2 minutes while stirring, then drain on a plate.
- Heat up ½ tablespoon of oil, add the garlic, ginger, and red pepper flakes and stir fry for 30 seconds. Set aside.
- Add the water to the cornstarch or arrowroot and whisk so there is no lumps. Add the slurry to the sauce and whisk until combined. There should be one cup of sauce. Pour the sauce into the empty wok and cook for a minute until it thickens.
- Add the garlic mixture and mix it with the sauce, then add the vegetables and tofu. Gently stir until well coated with the sauce.
- Serve while still warm, and garnish with green onion and sesame seeds.
- To make this go smoothly, have everything ready before starting the cooking.
- Add the cornstarch slurry just before using the stir fry sauce.
- To absorb the extra oil, drain the tofu and vegetables on paper towel-lined plates.
- The reason there is so much oil in the ingredients list is because the eggplant absorbs a lot of it during the cooking process.
- Bake or air fry the eggplant to reduce the oil, but it will change the texture.