Friday, November 4, 2011

Chinese Restaurant Style Sesame Tofu

This is one of my very favorite tofu dishes. I love Chinese restaurant style fried tofu, and this recipe is even better than any restaurant tofu I've had. I found the recipe a few years ago and have used it many times. It takes a long time to prepare and is quite a bit of work, but it is easy, and in the end - all the work is worth it, in my opinion :)

The original recipe is for chicken, if you eat/like chicken, I bet it is fabulous! I swapped out the chicken for tofu and the first time I made this. I didn't really know what to expect, which is usually the case while trying to swap the meat out of a recipe for, and this was such a delicious surprise when it turned out. My only change to the recipe (other than swapping out the meat of course) is to dredge the marinated tofu pieces in cornstarch before frying. Here is a recipe I've posted previously that has more in depth directions if you are new to frying tofu: Sweet and Sour Crispy Tofu.

Chinese Restaurant Style Sesame Tofu
adapted from this recipe @
this will make about moderate 4 servings, I usually double it

1 - standard size block of extra firm tofu (I like Mori-Nu brand) cut into approximate 1/2 inch cubes, does not have to be neat or fancy, small triangles also work well


2 tablespoons light soy sauce
1 tablespoon cooking wine or 1 tablespoon dry sherry
3 drops sesame oil
2 tablespoons flour
2 tablespoons cornstarch
2 tablespoons water
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon vegetable oil

2 cups cornstarch (for dredging the marinated tofu)

1/2 cup water
1 cup vegetable broth
1/4 vinegar (you can use white, apple cider, or rice vinegar, they all work nicely)
1/4 cup cornstarch
1 cup sugar (white or brown, brown makes a nicer, darker sauce, I think, but I've tried both and they both work fine)
2 tablespoons dark soy sauce
2 tablespoons sesame oil
1 teaspoon chili paste or sauce like sriracha (more if you like spicy, less if you are serving to kids, like only 1/4 tsp)
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

Oil for frying
Sesame Seeds for sprinkling on top
Rice to serve with (I like jasmine or jasmati)

Mix the marinade ingredients (the first 9 ingredients listed) and marinate the tofu for 20 minutes. I like to use a shallow pan, the tofu is very fragile after marinating so you have to be gentle.

Whisk together all of the sauce ingredients. Pour them into a small pot and bring to a boil, stirring continuously. Turn the heat down to low, stirring occasionally, and keep warm while you are deep-frying the tofu.

Dredge the tofu in cornstarch, giving a nice thick coating, be gentle so the tofu don't break apart.
Add the coated tofu pieces a few at a time into your frying vessel (I like to deep fry in my electric skillet, so easy and you can add lots of tofu pieces at a time) and deep-fry until golden brown (about 2 minutes). Remove with slotted spoon. Drain on paper towels and then place tofu in warm oven (130 degrees) while you continue frying. Repeat with the remainder of the tofu. Just before you are finished deep-frying, bring the sauce back up to a boil.

To serve, put the tofu over a bowl of rice, spoon over some sauce, enough to coat the tofu and a little extra to flavor the rice. Sprinkle on sesame seeds and enjoy! It is important to not mix the tofu with the sauce until you are serving this because the tofu will get soggy quickly and tastes much better crispy crunchy.

If you give this a try I hope you enjoy it as much as we do! This is a favorite of my middle son, and my daughter who usually does not like tofu at all likes this dish, my youngest likes it as well. Go light on the chili paste if you are serving this to kids. Happy cooking!


Anonymous said...

Can you fry tofu without a deep fryer and still get a similar outcome? This looks great!

Andrea at Nummy Kitchen said...

Hi ahult,

You can do this without a deep fryer but it does still need to be fried in oil.

I have used a wok (kind of tough unless you have an electric one with a temperature controled dial) -- plus small frying space so it takes a while, but does work. It would probably also work in a dutch oven on the stove top if you have a candy/oil thermometer to measure the temperature.

My favorite was to fry this style tofu is in the electric skillet, I have one that is pretty large (I think it is a Presto brand, available everywhere like Target, etc.) and about 4 to 5 inches deep, you only need about 3 inches of oil to fry these in.

Hope this helps! :)

Take care,

Natalie said...

Just wanted to let you know I made this tonight and it was fantastic. Came together quickly, too... I used a cast iron pan for frying, and my boyfriend, who "doesn't like tofu" ate a whole plateful. Success! Thanks for the recipe!

Andrea at Nummy Kitchen said...

So glad that this worked for you and that your boyfriend liked it too! :)

franny.mayy said...

Hi! I have previously had tofu, not too good though so I was a little unsure about trying this. But I made this for dinner tonight anyway and it turned out sooo yummy!! Made some white rice to go with and did a shallow frying, and it has a wonderful crunch and the flavors for the marinade were wonderful! so thank you so so much!!

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