Since going quasi-vegetarian, there have been many things I’ve missed: sushi with fresh tuna, barbecue anything, fresh grilled fish (salmon, grouper mmmm), the perfectly marinated carnitas at Chubby’s, fried chicken and waffles (okay, I haven’t tried it, but it sounds awesome), sesame chicken, and many others. Most of these I’ve been able to substitute for vegetarian-friendly items (or at least farmers’ market friendly).
A few weeks ago, I had some time to kill at lab and was surfing new-to-me food blogs. Okay, maybe I was avoiding homework and lab work. Either way, I stumbled onto a great blog called Love and Olive Oil, and commenced “thumbing” through their vegetarian recipes, marking interesting ones to try later. Among the numerous and mouthwatering recipes, I found sesame tofu, a perfect replacement for sesame chicken.
Many things make this dish great. Chief among them is the ease with which it comes together and the splendid sauce that coats the tofu and meanders onto your rice for a punch of flavor in otherwise bland brown (or white) rice. Another plus is that the cornstarch tofu coating adds extra crunch to the tofu cubes. I’ve made this several times and served it to guests, with great success. Now it’s your turn to try it out (and maybe it will encourage you to kill some time by surfing new-to-you food blogs for great new recipes).
Sesame TofuAdapted from Love and Olive Oil Tofu: 1 package extra firm tofu 1 egg, lightly beaten ¼ cup cornstarch ¼ cup canola oil Toasted sesame seeds Sauce: ½ cup sugar 2 tablespoons cornstarch ¾ cup water 1/8 cup rice vinegar 2 tablespoons soy sauce 2 tablespoons sesame oil 1 teaspoon chili paste (or red pepper flakes) 1 garlic clove, minced
Drain tofu by wrapping it in paper towels and placing it on top of a flat strainer with a plate upside down on top, with a heavy can on the plate. If you don’t have a flat strainer you can wrap it in extra paper towels and place it between two plates with a heavy can on top. Allow tofu to drain for at least 30 minutes.
In a small saucepan, add all the sauce ingredients and whisk together. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium and cook for about 5 minutes until thick. Remove from heat and set aside.
Dice tofu into small cubes (1 inch). Coat tofu cubes in whisked egg and then toss in cornstarch until coated. Shake off excess cornstarch and set aside. Continue with rest of cubes. Heat pan over medium-high heat* and add oil. Carefully place in tofu and cook until golden brown, 5-8 minutes. The tofu will stick together if it touches, so separate as you cook.
Remove excess oil and pour sauce over tofu. It will sizzle and bubble up. Stir the tofu in the sauce until coated. Serve with rice and a green. Broccoli is really tasty with the sauce, though I have a cabbage salad in the photo.
*Many people like to use woks. I don’t because everything sticks to it. Maybe I’m not doing it right, but I prefer a non-stick pan with high sides.