Crispy Sweet and Spicy Orange Sesame Tofu by Julia Hernández

Tip: The keys to perfecting the crispy tofu are to drain the tofu adequately, use a non-stick pan, and to fry the tofu immediately after coating with corn starch.   The longer you leave the tofu in the corn starch, the gummier it will get.  With some practice, you will end up with restaurant-quality, crispy tofu!

Serves 4

Tofu Ingredients:
1 and 1/2 packages (14 oz.) of extra firm tofu, drained
1/4 cup of corn starch
Oil for frying
1 Tbsp. of black sesame seeds
2-3 scallions, chopped
Sauce Ingredients:
6 Tbsp. tamari soy sauce
4 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar
juice from 1/2 an orange
1/2 tsp. of grated orange rind
1/3 cup agave nectar
4 cloves of garlic, minced or grated
1 Tbsp. ginger, grated
1/8 – 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
1 Tbsp. sesame oil
Optional thickener: 1 tsp. of corn starch, 1-2 tsp. cold water

Preparation: Press the tofu for 30 minutes. Another option is to squeeze and drain the tofu. For the second option, cut the full block into two parts, so you have three total. Gently squeeze each piece of  tofu horizontally and vertically. Then, let the tofu blocks drain in a colander for 30 minutes. I found that Soy-Boy and Trader Joe’s brands are very firm and drain adequately this way. While the tofu is draining, prep the other ingredients and start cooking the sauce.

Combine all the ingredients for the sauce in a saucepan and simmer on low/medium heat. The sauce should be finished cooking the time the tofu is finished draining, about 20 minutes. Turn off heat.

Cut the tofu into 1 inch cubes or rectangles. For the coating on the tofu to get crispy, you do not want to overcrowd the pan. Split the tofu into three amounts and fry each separately. Start with 1/3 of the tofu cubes. Sprinkle some cornstarch over them, and use a spatula to coat the tofu evenly. You want a thin coat of cornstarch over the tofu.

Add oil to non-stick frying pan, so there is a thin coat of oil coating the entire pan.  Add the tofu to the pan immediately after the oil is hot. Fry until bottoms of tofu are crispy and golden. Use tongs to flip each piece. Remove tofu when the other side is golden and crispy.

Drain the tofu in a colander.

Repeat these steps for the next two batches of tofu. Do not coat the tofu in cornstarch until you are ready to add to the pan. You do not want the tofu to sit in the cornstarch too long.

After all all the tofu is cooked and drained, put the tofu in a bowl. Add the scallions and sesame seeds. Use a spatula to mix.

If you wish to thicken the sauce, first bring the sauce to a boil. In a separate small bowl, mix a teaspoon of cornstarch and a teaspoon of cold water until smooth. Add the cornstarch mixture to the sauce and stir. Remove from heat.

Pour the sauce into the bowl of tofu. Use a spatula to coat evenly. Serve immediately.

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