I have tried to avoid recipes using tofu in this series so far, mainly because meat eaters often have a negative reaction to the idea of tofu. I can understand why; if not prepared well, tofu is definitely the blandest food on the planet and can easily end up with a soggy, slimy texture. However, as tofu is one of the only forms of protein that my daughter will eat (she hates beef and just tolerates chicken) I have tried very hard to find palatable ways to prepare this blandest of foods. After much trial and error, I have figured out a few techniques and tips that I hope will help others in preparing this versatile ingredient. The recipe below was inspired by a recipe on marthastewart.com that uses shrimp. The recipe yielded such tasty, crunchy, flavorful shrimp that I knew I had to try it with tofu and the results were the best tofu recipe I’ve made to date. Even the tofu-averse among you will be hard pressed to make any of the usual complaints about this dish, I promise! The cornstarch and sesame “batter” makes a perfect light, crunchy coating for the tofu and then soaks up the sweet, sharp flavor of the orange sauce. Delicious! It is essential to properly drain the tofu before cooking if you want to avoid that soggy tofu texture, so be sure to leave extra time for the draining step. I also highly recommend toasting the sesame seeds in a hot skillet for a few minutes before using them in this dish. Toasted sesame seeds have a much richer flavor than plain. Other than that, this dish is extremely quick and easy to prepare as well as being much cheaper than shrimp!
- 1 14-ounce package extra firm tofu
- 2 large egg whites
- 1/4 cup cornstarch
- 1/4 cup toasted sesame seeds
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 cup canola oil
- 1 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
- 2 Tablespoons soy sauce
- 1 Tablespoon brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon sesame oil
- 4 green onions, finely chopped
- 2 cups cooked white rice, for serving (optional)
- To drain tofu: Cut the block of tofu in half horizontally and lay both pieces on a paper towel lined plate. Lay two layers of paper towels over the tofu then place a cutting board on top. Set two heavy cans on the cutting board and let tofu drain for at least 15 minutes. Discard paper towels and cut tofu into 1-inch cubes.
- In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the egg whites, corn starch, salt and sesame seeds until frothy. Add the tofu cubes to the bowl and toss until well-coated. Heat the canola oil in a large skillet or wok over medium heat.
- Once oil is hot, add half of the coated tofu cubes to the pan and cook until browned on all sides, about 10 minutes total. Transfer the cooked tofu to a paper towel lined plate to drain. Fry the remaining tofu and remove from pan.
- In a small bowl, whisk together the orange juice, soy sauce, brown sugar and sesame oil until well-combined. Add the orange juice mixture to the skillet and turn heat up to medium-high. Bring sauce to a boil and cook until thickened and syrupy, about 5 minutes. Return the tofu to the pan along with the green onions and toss to coat well with sauce, cook for 1 minute until tofu is warmed through. Serve immediately over the rice.