Crispy Tofu & Cilantro Balls

Hetty McKinnon's book To Asia with Love showcases the food and flavors she grew up with in a Cantonese family, living in Australia and now Brooklyn. A key tenet of her cooking is making dishes packed with flavor using just a few ordinary ingredients. These inventive crispy tofu bites, inspired by her experience eating fried tofu balls at Hong Kong's Kung Tak Lam Shanghai Vegetarian Cuisine restaurant, are a great example. Potato starch gives them a nice crispy finish.

Crispy Tofu & Cilantro Balls
Photo: Jason Donnelly
Active Time:
55 mins
Total Time:
55 mins


  • 3 cups canola or sunflower oil for frying

  • 1 14- to 16-ounce package extra-firm tofu, well drained and patted dry

  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten

  • ½ cup fresh cilantro, finely chopped

  • 2 scallions, finely chopped

  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped peeled fresh ginger

  • 1 teaspoon five-spice powder, divided

  • ½ cup potato starch or cornstarch

  • ½ teaspoon salt

  • ¼ teaspoon ground white pepper

  • ½ cup mayonnaise

  • 1 teaspoon Sriracha or chile-garlic sauce

  • 1 clove garlic, grated

  • Lemon wedges for serving


  1. Heat oil in a small saucepan over medium-high heat until it reaches 350°F.

  2. Meanwhile, mash tofu with a fork in a large bowl. Add eggs, cilantro, scallions, ginger and ½ teaspoon five-spice powder; mix until well combined. Stir in potato starch (or cornstarch) and season with salt and pepper. Shape into 15 golf-ball-size balls.

  3. Combine mayonnaise, Sriracha (or chile-garlic sauce), garlic and the remaining ½ teaspoon five-spice powder in a small bowl.

  4. Carefully add 3 of the tofu balls to the oil. Fry, turning regularly, until golden brown, 5 to 7 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon to a paper-towel-lined plate. Repeat with the remaining tofu balls, letting the oil come back to 350° between batches. Serve the tofu balls with the sauce and lemon wedges, if desired.



Nutrition Facts (per serving)

416 Calories
32g Fat
21g Carbs
11g Protein
Nutrition Facts
Servings Per Recipe 5
Serving Size 3 tofu balls & 1 1/2 Tbsp. sauce
Calories 416
% Daily Value *
Total Carbohydrate 21g 8%
Dietary Fiber 2g 7%
Total Sugars 1g
Protein 11g 22%
Total Fat 32g 41%
Saturated Fat 4g 20%
Cholesterol 84mg 28%
Vitamin A 353IU 7%
Sodium 434mg 19%
Potassium 84mg 2%

Nutrition information is calculated by a registered dietitian using an ingredient database but should be considered an estimate.

* Daily Values (DVs) are the recommended amounts of nutrients to consume each day. Percent Daily Value (%DV) found on nutrition labels tells you how much a serving of a particular food or recipe contributes to each of those total recommended amounts. Per the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the daily value is based on a standard 2,000 calorie diet. Depending on your calorie needs or if you have a health condition, you may need more or less of particular nutrients. (For example, it’s recommended that people following a heart-healthy diet eat less sodium on a daily basis compared to those following a standard diet.)

(-) Information is not currently available for this nutrient. If you are following a special diet for medical reasons, be sure to consult with your primary care provider or a registered dietitian to better understand your personal nutrition needs.

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