recipe and blog post updated March 3, 2021
This recipe was inspired by the sesame chicken I would get from New York Chinese takeout restaurants. Overtime this has become one of the most popular recipes on Plantifully Based and I loved it so much (and so did you guys) so I put it in my new cookbook! Tiny little morsels of tofu are pan fried until crispy then tossed in a delicious sweet and savory sauce.
I first made this recipe over 3 years ago and while the process of making it hasn’t changed too much I did just want to give it a bit of a face lift. It has become one of my most popular recipes on YouTube and one that you all are constantly recreating which makes me so happy. This sesame tofu is just delicious and perfect for a weeknight dinner because it is ready in just a matter of minutes! The sticky pieces of tofu pair great with vegetables like broccoli or bok choy and it is best served over a fluffy bed of rice.
Some differences between the recipe video and the way the recipe is now. The first recipe I made during my minimal oil phase, hence why I cooked the tofu with no oil. You can of course still do that as long as you have a good nonstick pan and cook the tofu on low heat. The second difference is using brown sugar instead of maple syrup, either work completely fine actually but the brown sugar will give it a bit more richness. So if you watch the video the process will be slightly different but mostly the same!
The tofu recipe is very easy. All you do is pan fry the tofu until crispy and then make the sauce. Toss the tofu in the sauce and there you go! The sauce isn’t spicy it is a combination of savory and sweet. I prefer to use low sodium soy sauce for this recipe but if you like regular soy sauce that would be fine too.
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1 (16-ounce/454g) block extra- firm tofu
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1⁄2 teaspoon paprika
Dash of salt
2 tablespoons vegetable or canola oil
1 tablespoon cornstarch
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 (1-inch/2.5cm) piece ginger, peeled and minced
1⁄4 cup (60ml) low-sodium soy sauce
11⁄2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
1⁄4 cup (50g) packed organic dark brown sugar
2 tablespoons sesame seeds
Pinch of red pepper flakes
1 bunch green onions, chopped
1 tablespoon sesame seeds
1. Prepare the tofu: Remove the tofu from the package and drain the liquid. Wrap the tofu in a clean kitchen towel and press with your hands to remove the excess water.
2. Using a sharp knife, cut the block of tofu in half lengthwise, then turn your knife 90 degrees to cut the two long pieces in half crosswise, making 4 equal-sized rectangles. Cut each rectangle crosswise into 4 pieces, making a total
of 16 pieces. Take one piece and cut it in half lengthwise,
then cut the 2 long pieces in half crosswise. Repeat with the remaining 15 pieces to make a total of 64 pieces.
3. Put the cornstarch, paprika, and salt in a bowl and mix together. Add the tofu and gently toss to coat. It should absorb the cornstarch and appear wet.
4. Heat the vegetable oil in a large nonstick frying pan over medium heat. Place the tofu in the pan and cook for 3 to 4 minutes per side, until the tofu is golden and a crust has formed. Repeat with the remaining tofu.
5. Meanwhile, make the sauce: Start by making a slurry. Put the cornstarch and 1 tablespoon of water in a small bowl and whisk until smooth. It should resemble milk. Place the remaining sauce ingredients along with 1⁄2 cup (120ml) of water in a 1-cup (240ml) liquid measuring cup, then add the slurry and whisk to combine. The sauce will look cloudy and light brown
6. Pour the sauce into a medium-sized saucepan and cook over medium-low heat for about 5 minutes, until it thickens and starts to turn translucent.
7. When the tofu is done, reduce the heat under the frying pan to low. Pour the sauce over the tofu and toss to coat. Cook for an additional 2 minutes to allow the tofu to soak up some of the flavorful sauce.
8. Serve the tofu and sauce immediately with the rice. Garnish with the green onions and sesame seeds.
*original recipe uses no oil to pan fry and can swap the brown sugar for maple syrup
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