Sweet and sticky sesame sauce is one of my all-time favorite (American style) Chinese food incarnations, but I’m not comfortable ordering it in restaurants because it often contains chicken stock. Luckily, sesame tofu is pretty easy to make at home. There are a number of different parts to the dish that need to be attended to though, especially if you’re serving it with rice and broccoli.
You’ll want to get the rice started first so you don’t have to worry about it. Then, while it’s simmering, you can start marinating the tofu and make the sauce.
The base is composed of garlic and ginger lightly browned in toasted sesame oil. Be careful not to let it burn!
The remaining sauce ingredients are mixed in with a whisk to make sure they’re well combined.
After it boils for a minute, you’ll end up with a rich, amber sauce. Keep it covered so it stays warm while you fry the tofu.
When cornstarch is added to the marinade and shaken, it forms a thin batter. Try not to shake it too much like I did, or it will start to crumble like in the image above.
The tofu likes to clump together, so you’ll want to shake off as much batter as possible before adding it to the oil. Stirring it also helps.
Make sure it’s a nice, deep golden brown color. The outside needs to be extra crisp in order to stand up to the thick sauce without getting soggy.
Finally, you can steam the broccoli, which should only take a few minutes. You can keep the tofu warm in the oven and reheat the sauce if desired. Once everything’s ready, make a ring of broccoli on a platter, pile the tofu inside, and pour the sauce on top. Sprinkle on your garnishes and serve immediately with the rice.
2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
1 tablespoon minced ginger
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 - 1 teaspoon chili paste, according to spice preference
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
2 cups vegetable broth
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
2 tablespoons sesame seeds, lightly toasted
2 scallions, thinly sliced
1/4 cup finely chopped cilantro
Serve with: rice and steamed broccoli
- Prepare the tofu. Whisk the soy sauce and sake together in a large, sealable plastic container. Add the tofu cubes, cover and gently shake to coat. Set aside to marinate while you prepare the sauce.
- Heat the sesame oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the ginger and garlic and sauté for 30 seconds or until fragrant. Whisk in the remaining sauce ingredients until well combined and bring to a boil. Stir for one minute, then remove from heat. Cover and keep warm while you fry the tofu.
- Heat 1” of oil in a large pot over medium heat.
- Add cornstarch to the container and shake until tofu is thoroughly coated in a pale, wet batter.
- Test the heat of the oil by dropping in a small amount of batter. If it quickly rises and sizzles, the oil is ready. Fry the tofu cubes in batches, shaking off excess batter before adding them to the pot. Cook 2-3 minutes while stirring, or until deep golden brown. Drain on a wire rack over a pan.
- Arrange the tofu on a serving platter and cover with sauce. Sprinkle with sesame seeds, scallions and cilantro. Serve with rice and steamed broccoli.