Asian Chili & Garlic Crispy Tofu
Tofu: From boring to fun. This story can go in multiple ways, and this chili & garlic sauce is my suggestion for today. Easy, delicious and optionally hot.
- 500 gr firm tofu
- 1-2 tbsp cornstarch (corn flour)
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tbsp sesame oil (or olive oil)
- 2 tbsp light soy or tamari sauce
- 4 garlic cloves finely chopped
- 1 tsp chili flakes
- 1 tsp honey (or agave syrup)
- 1 tsp fresh ginger (or 1/2 tsp ginger powder)
- salt, black pepper to taste
- 4 spring onions chopped finely
- 1 tbsp sesame seeds
- fresh cilantro, chopped
Slice the tofu into small cubes, then mix with the oil and cornstarch in a bowl until well coated. Set a pan to medium-high heat and sauté the tofu until crispy. Allow the tofu pieces to fry in a single layer, and to have space in between each other; if necessary, fry in two batches.
Prepare the sauce by combining all ingredients in a cup and stirring together.
Use the same frying pan, set it to medium heat. Add the sauce, stir and let it cook for a few seconds. Add the tofu and mix well. Cook for 3-4 mins. Keep an eye on it to make sure the garlic and onions don't burn.
Serve with more fresh spring onions, sesame seeds and some chopped fresh cilantro (or your preferred herb). Enjoy it with some rice, vegetables or in pasta.
When we think of “tofu”, we typically think “boring”. This is one of the biggest misunderstandings and tragic assumptions that I’ve seen humans make (when it comes to food, of course). The thing is, my friends… When we read tofu, it should never be just tofu. It should always come with some delicious-sounding ingredients or flavours written in front of it. So… how to make tofu interesting? My goal here is to give you ideas on how to make eating this soy bean-based product a little more exciting.
A little background story
I only really started consuming tofu when I started reducing my meat and fish intake. It is a high in protein food (about 20g per 100g) and if you buy the firm kind, the texture can be quite pleasing. Although it is processed, it is typically made with soy beans – that’s it. The first type of tofu I ever bought was the Taifun Almond Smoked Tofu. My mom used to eat them at home and I quite liked the taste (almost like eating a regular hot dog sausage, but different shape). If you haven’t tried it, I recommend it.
Eventually, I got tired of always eating tofu in that same flavour. I wanted to make my own flavour combinations. So I started to investigate and experiment with various combinations of flavours and cooking methods, marinating or brushing the tofu in and with different sauces and spices, then baking or frying it…
Eventually, I came to like the more Asian-style sauces (garlic, chili, sesame, peanuts…). They somehow go naturally well with tofu. Ben usually improvises a similar sauce as we used in this recipe, for basically anything (sautéed kale, pasta, on top of rice, potatoes…). I found a very good inspiration recipe in Love is in My Tummy. She has some other really delicious recipes too, worth checking out.
This recipe is just an example. There are multiple ways of combining these and other ingredients to make tofu more fun. I plan to share some of these sauces in upcoming posts.
For now, I strongly recommend that you try this one out, and see for yourself.
Using cornstarch gives it a nice crisp and I wouldn’t skip this step.
The sauce can include chili flakes, or not, depending on how friendly you (and your mouth and belly) are with hot food. Sesame oil is optional (I know many of us don’t usually have it in our pantries), but strongly recommended.
How to eat it? Alone, on top of boiled rice, sautéed or steamed vegetables or some pasta or together with our much loved Thai noodles.
If you make this recipe, as always let me know in the comments section.