Crunchy Sesame Tofu & Dipping Sauce

crunchy sesame tofu Crunchy Sesame Tofu & Dipping Sauce

It is my firm opinion that tofu gets a bad rap. I have many a friend whose reaction to tofu is “Blech!”

Maybe it was my years spent as a vegetarian – or maybe it’s just my highly sophisticated palette, but I happen to think that tofu is wonderful.

It’s a completely kid-friendly food (my babies used to eat it raw, cut into cubes, for breakfast, lunch or dinner!). It is totally variable – and takes on the taste of whatever you cook it with. And it can be 100 different textures, depending on how you prepare it.

My first encounter with tofu was back in high school, when I invented a stuffed pepper recipe with rice and “scrambled” tofu. It was kind of bland, but that dish proved to be the culinary gateway to my love affair with tofu.

If you are in the anti-tofu camp, I think the texture thing may be holding you back. Fortunately, tofu doesn’t have to be a mushy mouthful. I get nice firm tofu by doing the following:

  • Buying the extra firm refrigerated tofu – I know some people like the shelf-stable stuff, but that, to me, is way too mushy
  • “Draining” the tofu by layering slices between paper towels and then putting a wooden cutting board, weighted down by a few cans of beans, on top – leave it for a few minutes, then discard the paper towel
  • Lightly pan frying the tofu before adding it to my recipe

If you do these three things, you will have nice, firm tofu, ready to be added to any recipe you’d normally use boneless chicken breasts for.

When you really want to up the ante, though, try this delicious crunchy sesame tofu. I can’t even remember where I first found it, but I’ve been making it for a while now and don’t even need a recipe anymore. I think it will make even the nay-sayers think twice about tofu!

Crunchy Sesame Tofu

  • 1 block extra firm tofu
  • soy sauce
  • flour
  • 1/4 cup sesame oil (or 1/8 cup sesame, 1/8 cup olive oil – or just splash some in the pan, that’s what I do!)
  • 1/2 cup sesame seeds
  • chopped green onions for garnish, optional

1. Cut tofu in half width-wise, then cut into slightly-less-than centimeter-wide slices. Turn your slices, and cut diagonally, into triangles. Drain them, as described above.

2. Dip triangles in soy sauce and then dredge in flour.

3. Heat oil in wok or frying pan, then add tofu triangles and gently fry on both sides. If you have trouble flipping them, try using a fork instead of a spatula.

4. Remove tofu from wok.

5. In the same pan, lightly fry the sesame seeds until golden brown. Add a few drops of soy sauce and stir once more in the pan.

6. Add the tofu back into the wok and gently toss together.

7. Serve with brown rice, steamed or sauteed vegetables and dipping sauce (if desired – but everybody loves to dip, in my experience!).

Dipping Sauce

  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1/3 cup unseasoned rice vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon hot pepper flakes (optional)
  • 1 clove garlic, minced (optional)
  • 1 tsp fresh ginger, minced (optional)
  • 1 scallion (green part only), thinly sliced on the diagonal

Whisk ingredients together in a medium bowl and serve together with tofu triangles.

B’tayavon!

Do you love tofu? Or does the mere thought of it make you go, “Blech!”? Let me hear from you in the comments section!

And don’t forget to share your tofu recipes – either in the comments, or by linking up with the linky.



Comments

comments

Comments

  1. So excited for everyone’s tofu recipes! The original recipe comes from http://www.101cookbooks.com/archives/caramelized-tofu-recipe.html. This is my go-to recipe for an easy dinner. Make brown rice at the same time, and you have a complete meal — protein, carb, veggie. I have found that with one package of tofu, it makes three generous adult servings. If you serve it as a side dish, it will certainly go farther.

    My adjustments:

    1. I use twice as much tofu (a whole package).
    2. I substitute walnuts for pecans. (Sometimes almonds. Depends on what’s in my freezer.)
    3. I substitute spinach for brussel sprouts.
    4. I have never used cilantro in this recipe, but I bet it would be good.
    5. The nuts should be toasted, not burnt. To accomplish this (the non-burnt result), put the oven lower than you originally thought it should be, use larger nuts rather than teeny diced pieces, and, um, don’t forget about the pan and open the oven ten minutes later.
    6. I use brown rice instead of rice pilaf. It’s healthier and a LOT less expensive than the boxed pilaf mixes.
    7. Once, I accidentally used canola/vegetable oil for the tofu. Mistake. Stick with olive oil.

    Don’t use tofu often? The most important thing with tofu is to press the water out of it. This is how:
    1. Buy it cubed and as firm as possible. It’s the same price as uncubed, and it’s less work. No-brainer.
    2. Poke a hole in the package and drain. (Hint: if you poke the hole in the corner, this will make it easier.)
    3. Put two paper towels (or one real towel) on a cutting board. Dump out the tofu and lay it out so that it’s in a single layer. Put two more paper towels on top and press a little bit. Add a thick magazine or something else heavy that can get wet on top. PRESS DOWN. You don’t want to flatten the tofu, but you do want to remove as much moisture as possible.

    • Oops, sorry. This is a recipe for caramelized tofu that I adapted from 101cookbooks.com. Meant to type that at the top, but I got caught up in copying/pasting/formatting from a FB note I posted recently.

      • I bet slivered almonds would be amazing with this! Or even pistachios – kinda funky. (I’m on a nut kick, can you tell?)

  2. This is my favorite tofu recipe – awesome flavor! This makes a big batch so we can have leftovers for lunch.

    Lime Curry Tofu
    2 tablespoons peanut or roasted sesame oil
    1 (16 ounce) package extra-firm tofu, cut into bite-sized cubes
    2 tablespoon minced fresh ginger root
    2 garlic cloves, minced
    2 tablespoons red curry paste
    1 medium zucchini, diced
    1 medium yellow squash, diced
    1 red bell pepper, diced
    6 tablespoons lime juice
    1 tablespoons soy sauce
    2 tablespoons fish sauce
    1/4 cup pure maple syrup
    2 (14 ounce) can coconut milk
    1 tsp salt
    1/2 cup chopped fresh basil

    Drain and dice the tofu, and stir fry in the preheated oil until it is golden brown. Remove from pan (leaving remaining oil) and add the squash and zucchini and stir fry until they just start to get tender. Add the bell pepper, ginger, garlic and curry paste, coating the veggies. Reduce heat and add everything except the basil (including the tofu). Bring coconut milk to a simmer and cook for a few minutes until veggies are done, and tofu is hot. Add basil just before serving.
    We eat this over rice, but it could also be served as a soup.

    • Oh my, wow – you had me at lime! All my favorite ingredients together in one tempting recipe – thanks so much for sharing.

  3. wow, if only I had your knack for making tofu look fabulous. I did make some mighty tasty barbecued tofu once!

    • Yum – your tofu looks great! As do your dumplings and dipping sauce (one of my favorite foods of all time!) Are the dumplings time-consuming?

      • I changed the linky since Mr. Linky was giving me fits and I relinked up to your post. Thanks so much for sharing!

  4. Can you really eat tofu raw– I thought it needed heat to kill bacteria?

    • Well, you know, I never even thought about it (bad mommy). I mean, tofu is cooked beancurd, so I figured it was okay. Apparently there is a bit of debate over whether or not it’s safe, per Swagbucks and Google. Must research more now!

  5. Linked up my favorite Mushroom & Tofu Stir-Fry. The post also has an easy tofu tutorial. (I tried linking up a picture; but, it didn’t work?) Your crunchy sesame tofu looks awesome. I’ll have to try it soon. Thanks!

    • I know _ I’m so sorry (and frustrated). I even paid to upgrade my service so you guys could link to pictures and look what happened! I’ve got a ticket in with them, but may switch my program for now.

      Anyway… thanks for linking up! I love your recipes!!

  6. Here are two easy ways to enjoy it:

    -Cut the drained tofu into strips (about 1/2 inch square at the end) and saute in a lightly oiled pan ’til lightly browned, set aside. Saute a bunch of sliced onion, add a clove or two of chopped garlic and some curry powder, cinamon, cumin and brown sugar. Saute another minute or two. Add a can of drained, chopped tomatoes. Cook all of this together for a few minutes and then add back the tofu, warm it through and serve with rice or in a wrap.

    -Cut the drained tofu into strips. Toss with a bit of oil and shwarma seasoning. Saute and remove from the pan. Saute a bunch of onions, peppers and mushrooms. Add some schwarma seasoning to the veggies along with a bit of water if the pan is very dry. Add the tofu back to the vegetables. Serve with rice or in a wrap.

    • Both sounds wonderful. Thanks so much for sharing. But where do you find shwarma seasoning? I don’t think I’ve ever seen that outside of Israel.

      • Miriam in savannah says:

        Pereg makes a “shwarma mix” spice that’s fanatastic! you can google it to find a source to get it online, but believe it or not I found some recently at Big Lots! Woo hoo!! I buy as many empire turkeys as my deep freezer will fit (and my bulk envelope will allow) when it goes on sale after thanksgiving in my local kosher section. I will use every part of it (breasts for shabbos, bones for soup), and the dark meat I can get off the bone is great sauteed with this shwarma mix for “homemade shwarma.” Bake up some pitot and serve with israeli salad!

        • Mara, Garden Fresh (here in Chicago) carries a fairly comprehensive line of Pereg spices and mixes. I can look next time I’m there.

  7. Since I’m really big on one-pot meals…I like to put a can of coconut milk in a large rectangular pyrex, stir in some curry powder (to your taste), and then add drained, cubed tofu and lots of veggies – sliced peppers, zucchini, onions, or, winter squash, thinly sliced sweet potatoes, etc. Bake @ 400 or so until veggies are cooked; and often right before taking out of the oven I will stir in some chopped spinach or chard. Put on top of rice (brown, preferably) and garnish with cilantro or basil. If you prefer your tofu crunchy, then omit the tofu in the baking dish, and instead saute in a pan, add to the veggies right before serving.

  8. I like the sesame tofu recipe. I think I will try it this week. I have two very simple things i make with tofu. I make Tofu taco, which is extra firm tofu sauted with taco seasoning mix and then prepared as you would any taco but you can use real cheese ansd sour cream. I also make tofu falafel. Mash a package of extra firm tofu add a package of falafel mix and the amount of water the mix calls for, mix well and spread into a baking sheet that has been sprayed with cooking spray, also spray the top and bake in a hot oven until crisp. Cut into pieces and eat as you would falafel balls. A lot healthier than fried falafel

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