Sticky Sesame Tofu
If you’re in the mood for an easy weeknight dinner, this sticky sesame tofu is for you! This tofu is coated in cornstarch, pan-fried, and then tossed in a thick, sticky, sweet yet savory, sesame sauce. The end result is a slightly crispy, sticky, salty, and savory tofu dish that’s super filling and packed with protein!
For the full recipe with step by step photos:
why this recipe works
This recipe calls for extra or super firm tofu, which when pressed, coated in cornstarch and shallow fried becomes so crispy. The crispy exterior really helps the sesame sauce adhere to the tofu when everything gets tossed together. Sesame oil, garlic, and ginger act as a few key flavoring ingredients in the sauce, helping to create a savory taste. Cornstarch and brown sugar work together in the sauce to create a slightly sweet, sticky, caramelized exterior for the tofu.
tofu cooking methods
In this recipe, I’m pan-frying the tofu since it is the fastest method. The key to pan-frying the tofu is to be sure your pan is hot enough, that you’re using enough oil (enough to coat the bottom of the pan), and to be patient. You’ll want each side of the tofu to get golden brown before flipping it.
This tofu can also be made by air frying. I recommend air frying it at 400F for about 10-15 minutes, making sure to flip it halfway through. Once you air fry the tofu, transfer it to a non-stick skillet or wok to coat it in the sesame sauce.
This tofu can also be made by baking but it takes more time. I recommend baking it at 425F for about 25 minutes, making sure to flip it halfway through. Once you bake the tofu, transfer it to a non-stick skillet or wok to coat it in the sesame sauce.
If you’d like super crispy tofu, you can also deep fry it! Heat a few inches of vegetable oil in a large pot over medium heat (about 375F if using a thermometer). Fry the tofu in batches to help keep the oil temperature from dropping. It should take about 4 minutes to fry the tofu until it is golden brown.
Sticky Sesame Tofu
- 2 tbsp toasted sesame oil
- 1 tbsp white rice wine vinegar
- 3 cloves minced garlic
- 1 tbsp minced ginger
- 1 tsp sambal oelek
- 1/4 cup soy sauce
- ¼ cup brown sugar
- 6 tbsp veggie broth
- 3 tbsp cornstarch
- 1 block extra-firm tofu, drained and lightly pressed with paper towels
- ¼ cup cornstarch
- 1 tsp salt
- ¼ tsp black pepper
Cooking & Serving
- Vegetable oil or Cooking Spray
- Green Onion
To Make the Sesame Sauce:
- Mix all of the sauce ingredients together except the cornstarch in a small pot. Bring to a simmer and heat on medium for 10 minutes.
- The sauce should reduce down in volume. Transfer 4-5 tbsp of the sauce to a small bowl and whisk in the cornstarch to form a slurry.
- Whisk the cornstarch slurry into the sauce and heat for 1-2 more minutes. The sauce should thicken immediately. Remove from heat and set aside.
To Make the Tofu:
- Cut the block of tofu into ½” cubes. Mix the cornstarch, salt & pepper together in a shallow bowl. Add the tofu in and gently toss them to coat in the starch.
- Heat a large nonstick skillet or wok with 1-2 tbsp of vegetable oil on medium heat. (To get a crispy exterior, be sure to use enough oil to coat the bottom of the pan)
- Once the pan has been heated add the tofu. The tofu should immediately begin to sizzle when dropped in the oil.
- Stir fry the cubes until golden brown and crispy on all sides. (Heat each side for about 1-2 minutes, then flip until all sides have been pan-fried).
- Reduce the heat to low and add the sesame sauce. Stir the tofu well until all the cubes are coated. The sauce will bubble up a lot if the pan is too hot.
- Continue to stir the tofu and sauce for 1 minute so the sauce caramelizes a bit.
- Remove from the heat and immediately serve with green onions, cilantro, and rice.
- If you’d like to have a more ‘chicken’ like texture, freeze the tofu once and then thaw the tofu prior to cutting it into cubes.
- Like most fried foods, this tofu is crispiest if served immediately.
- For more cooking methods, see the post above.
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