First name Sticky. Last name Tofu. I wouldn’t have it any other way.
When I first moved into my house, I had no furniture, no table, no chairs and nothing to eat on. I would order take-out and happily sit on my living room floor with my one pair of chopsticks eating straight from the box. Those were the days. Now, it is very rare that I order take-out because why would you when you can just make that shiz yourself?! Know what I mean??
When I was in Southeast Asia, I was shocked and confused that I could never find a salt shaker anywhere….Like, what?! Didn’t they know how aggressively I seasoned my food?
I quickly realized that their style of cooking is actually SO wise. They are the masters of balance, which is exactly what tasty food has. Their use of soy sauce, miso, hoisin, and fish sauce bring saltiness. Vinegars add the acidity. Coconut milk and fruits like tamarind bring sweetness . Ginger and chilis bring a spicy heat and bold flavour. Mushrooms and seaweeds bring the umami. And the list goes on and on. So maybe I didn’t get to salt my eggs in the morning, but the rest was worth it!
For this recipe, you need a few staples from the Asian pantry:
- Soy Sauce
- Sesame oil, and
- Rice vinegar
Let’s start with the tofu. I use extra firm in order for it to hold it’s shape while being crisped up in a pan. It is important to press your tofu in order to release any excess liquid that it is carrying. This ensures maximum crispiness. I just place it in a clean tea-towel with my cast iron pan on top for about 30 minutes. Afterwards, sprinkle cornstarch over cubed pieces, tossing to coat, and throw them in a pan with some sesame oil. Brown the tofu on all six sides.
While the tofu is crisping up, get started on the sauce. Whisk the soy sauce, water, freshly squeezed orange juice, honey, rice vinegar and cornstarch (to thicken) together. When the tofu is done crisping, add grated ginger and garlic to pan, stirring for a few seconds (until fragrant – don’t burn!) and then pour the sauce into the pan. Bring to a simmer and cook for about five minutes until it has coated the tofu and has thickened up nicely.
Pour over rice and sautéed veggies and hit it with some sesame seeds on top. Voila! Asian “take-out” at home.
We have the salty soy sauce, the acidic vinegar, the sweet honey and orange, the earthy mushrooms and the spicy ginger and red pepper flakes. BALANCE. AND, it’s even better the next day! Yassss.
Sticky Orange Sesame Tofu
Prep time: 30 minutes
Cook time: 20 minutes
- 2 servings of cooked rice (1/2 cup dry)
- 200 grams extra firm tofu, pressed
- 1 tbsp sesame oil
- 1 cup cremini mushrooms, chopped
- 1 cup broccoli florets
- 1/2 of a medium red onion, sliced
- 1.5 teaspoons cornstarch
- 1 inch of ginger, peeled and grated
- 2 cloves of garlic, peeled and grated
- Pinch of sesame seeds (optional)
- 1 scallion, sliced (optional)
For the sauce:
- 1/4 cup soy sauce
- 2 tbsp water
- Juice of an orange (about 4 tbsp)
- 2 teaspoons honey
- 1 tbsp rice vinegar
- Pinch of red pepper flakes (optional)
- 1.5 tsp cornstarch
- Cut your tofu into long slices and place between a clean tea towel. Add a heavy object (like a cast iron pan) on top of the tea towel to “press” the tofu. Leave this for about 30 minutes.
- Add sesame oil to a pan over medium heat. When hot, add the mushrooms and stir, cooking until they begin to soften, about 5 minutes. If you like your broccoli softer, add it at the same time as the mushrooms.
- When the mushrooms are soft, add broccoli florets and red onion. Cook for a few more minutes. I like the broccoli to still have a crunch, so I leave it in the pan for 2-4 minutes until I am happy with the texture. Remove all vegetables from pan and set aside.
- Cube the pressed tofu and add to a bowl with the cornstarch. Toss until the tofu is completely covered.
- In the same pan we used for the vegetables, add the tofu (add a bit more sesame oil if the pan is dry). Brown all six sides of the tofu until it is nice and crispy.
- While the tofu is crisping, prepare your sauce but whisking together the soy sauce, water, orange juice, honey, rice vinegar, red pepper flakes and cornstarch.
- When the tofu is browned, add the ginger and garlic to the pan and stir around for a few seconds until fragrant (be careful not to burn, this happens quickly!!).
- Add the sauce to the pan and simmer for five minutes, or until it has thickened and coated the tofu.
- Plate with rice and sautéed veggies. Add some sesame seeds and scallions on top. Bon appetit!
You can substitute the tofu for chicken by browning it in the sesame oil instead. Cook through before adding the sauce.