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Crispy Tofu with Sesame Asparagus and Dipping Sauce

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Serves 4

  • by from Fine Cooking
    Issue 117

A coating of panko (Japanese breadcrumbs) is the secret to these ultracrisp tofu triangles. Hoisin sauce does double duty, adding flavor to the tofu’s coating and serving as a sweet-tangy dipping sauce.

  • 1 14-oz. package extra-firm tofu, drained
  • 1/2 cup plus 3 Tbs. hoisin sauce
  • 4 Tbs. seasoned rice vinegar
  • 3/4 tsp. Asian chili garlic sauce
  • 2 large eggs
  • 4 tsp. Asian sesame oil
  • Kosher salt
  • 2 cups panko
  • 1/2 cup cornstarch
  • 1/4 cup plus 1 Tbs. peanut oil
  • 1 lb. medium asparagus, trimmed
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tsp. toasted sesame seeds

Slice the tofu in half crosswise. Slice each half once on the diagonal, lay cut side down, and cut each vertically into 3 slices, to make 12 triangles. Arrange the slices on double-thick layers of paper towels and press to remove as much moisture as possible. Repeat as necessary to dry the tofu well.

In a small bowl, whisk 1/2 cup of the hoisin sauce, 3 Tbs. of the vinegar, and the chili-garlic sauce. Set aside.

In a shallow dish, lightly beat the eggs with the remaining 3 Tbs. hoisin sauce and 1 Tbs. vinegar, 2 tsp. of the sesame oil, and 1/2 tsp. salt. Put the panko and cornstarch in separate shallow bowls. Lightly season the tofu on both sides with salt. Dredge each piece of tofu in the cornstarch, shaking off the excess, then in the egg mixture, and then in the panko, setting the triangles on a plate as you finish each one.

Heat 1/4 cup of the peanut oil in a 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. When the oil begins to shimmer, add half of the tofu triangles and cook, turning once, until golden and crisp, about 2 minutes per side. Transfer to a paper-towel-lined plate, and season lightly with kosher salt. Repeat with the remaining tofu.

Wipe out the skillet, add the remaining 1 Tbs. peanut oil and return to medium-high heat. When the oil begins to shimmer, add the asparagus, and cook, turning, until crisp-tender, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the remaining 2 tsp. sesame oil and toss well. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Sprinkle with the sesame seeds. Serve the tofu and asparagus with the dipping sauce on the side.

Serving Suggestions

The dish goes well with a rice salad or an herb salad dressed with a simple Gingery Asian Vinaigrette.
 

nutrition information (per serving):
Calories (kcal): 450; Fat (g): fat g 30; Fat Calories (kcal): 270; Saturated Fat (g): sat fat g 5; Protein (g): protein g 16; Monounsaturated Fat (g): 15; Carbohydrates (g): carbs g 33; Polyunsaturated Fat (g): 9; Sodium (mg): sodium mg 870; Cholesterol (mg): cholesterol mg 65; Fiber (g): fiber g 3;

Photo: Scott Phillips

I made this last night and it was fabulous! I pressed the tofu first which you don't need to do but it did condense the texture. Pretty and light.

We loved this recipe! I've eaten tofu forever but never had a recipe I considered company-worthy. This has a beautiful presentation, is crispy, and tastes great!

Loved the crispy panko on the tofu, but did not care for the hoison sauce. It really overwhelmed the tofu. Won't be making this again.

WOW!!! I've never cooked tofu (out of principle), but I am a sucker for anything crispy, so I gave this a shot. Seriously, wow. The flavors are fantastic, and I was pleasantly surprised that the panko coating really adhered to the tofu (I was afraid that it would fall off and leave just a blob of tofu to ingest). I only made half the tofu tonight, but I saved the bowls of cornstarch and eggs to do the rest tomorrow night. I didn't think that the tofu would stay crispy on reheating, but judging by how crispy it is now, I think that I could have made the entire batch, and it would still be tasty as leftovers. I also did all of this cooking in my carbon steel wok, which I am still in the process of seasoning, and I had no problems space-wise. One thing to add - make sure that the pan is smoking hot before you add the asparagus, and then don't touch it for at least a minute. You'll get a great char on the asparagus and super flavor. If you're a total tofuphobe, I think this recipe would be fantastic on chicken tenders or long zucchini slices. Great job, FC!! I'm sold for life!

Loved the crispy texture of these but felt the tofu was pretty bland on the inside. It really needed the sauce. Maybe will try marinating the tofu next time in some of the sauce and then do the dredging, etc. Panko was perfect and even reheated crispy in the oven the next day.

Half way through scarfing this down, one of my kids asked when I was going to cook that icky tofu stuff I just bought in the grocery store. They had no idea what they were eating and LOVED it. And it was easy (it will get to be a "quickie" meal after I make it a few times and don't have to keep looking at the recipe). It's going on our "regular" dinner menu. We made it with broccoli because my son is asparagus-averse.

We all liked it, but my 6-year old especially liked it (without the dipping sauce). I don't usually like tofu, but I'll definitely be making this again. I had a lot of extra egg coating...next time I might try just one egg and halving the rest of the ingredients that go in the egg bit. Didn't make the asparagus as I didn't buy any.

Tofu turned out very nice. I liked the sauce though I liked it better when I mixed more sesame oil and vinegar and made it thinner.

I made this for dinner tonight, and it was delicious! The tofu was crunchy and tasty. I think the cornstarch is an impertant element in the crunchiness of it. I used extra firm tofu, and afrer slicing it, pressed it between two kitchen towels for a bit to get the extra moisture out of it.

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