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Fried Tofu with Sesame-Soy Dipping Sauce

Season with Spice asian spice shop

Fried Tofu with Sesame-Soy Dipping Sauce by SeasonWithSpice.com

I poked at it with a chopstick, watching it wobble.

“It looks like white Jello.”

“You’ve never tried tofu?” Reese asked.

 I shook my head and poked at the tofu again.  “Kind of looks like coconut Jello.”

“Not even close.”  She carefully sliced the tofu block into cubes.  “Let’s fry them up and I promise you’ll love it.”

Fried Tofu with Sesame-Soy Dipping Sauce by SeasonWithSpice.com

That was many years ago, before I was introduced to the wonders of soy-based foods in Asia like honeydew or papaya soy milk for a quick breakfast in Singapore, do fou fa (beancurd jelly) for dessert at night markets in Penang, and Agedashi tofu for a snack after work in Tokyo. 

And now, driving by fields and fields of soy bean crops in central Minnesota, I’m surprised I didn’t grow up with soy sauce on the kitchen counter, soy milk in the refrigerator, and fried tofu for school lunch.

Fried Tofu with Sesame Soy Dipping Sauce by SeasonWithSpice.com

Since the texture of tofu is so soft, I always make my fried tofu extra crunchy – layered first with a mix of cornstarch and white pepper, then coated with egg, and finally rolled thoroughly in panko flakes. 

The uniform size and cube shape make these especially easy to fry in a skillet with a shallow base of vegetable oil.  And in just ten minutes of frying, you have golden brown, crunchy tofu to dip into a Sesame-Soy Dipping Sauce (compliments of Reese).

Asian sesame-soy dipping sauce for tofu

Fried Tofu with Sesame-Soy Dipping Sauce by SeasonWithSpice.com

Fried Tofu with Sesame-Soy Dipping Sauce recipe 
by Season with Spice 
Serves 3-4 as a side dish

Ingredients:
Fried Tofu -
1 block (12.3oz or 349g) of extra firm tofu – I used Mori-Nu Silken Tofu
1/2 cup cornstarch
1/4 tsp of Season with Spice's ground white pepper
1 egg
1/2 cup panko flakes
Vegetable oil

Sesame-Soy Dipping Sauce -
1/4 cup low-sodium soy sauce
1 tsp rice wine vinegar
1 tsp sugar
2 tsp sesame oil
3 cloves garlic – minced
1 serrano red chili pepper (or two Thai bird’s eye chili peppers for a spicy version) - deseeded and minced
1 spring onion – chopped
Sprinkles of Season with Spice's sesame seeds

Process: 
1. Combine all sauce ingredients in a small bowl, and set aside.
2. Mix cornstarch and white pepper in one small bowl. Then whisk egg in another small bowl. And finally, add in panko flakes into a third small bowl.
3. Carefully remove the tofu block from its package, since it can break easily. Slice into 16 cubes (slice block in half horizontally first, then cut into cubes).
4. Coat each tofu cube first in the cornstarch bowl, then egg, then panko flakes.
5. Add vegetable oil into skillet until it pools to only about 1/4 inch deep. Heat on medium-high fire. The oil will be ready when bubbles form around the handle of a wooden chopstick or spoon when placed in the oil (around 350-375F). [Safety note: Never heat oil unattended]
6. Place all the tofu cubes into the skillet. When one side browns, flip it over to another side. Repeat until nicely browned. Remove from skillet and drain on paper towel. Serve hot with sesame-soy dipping sauce.

For another great vegetarian side dish, try this nutrients-packed Coconut-Ginger Kale recipe.
Coconut-Ginger Kale recipe by SeasonWithSpice.com