Maligned, unloved, and misused, tofu can be wonderful, or it can be awful. But one thing it is this week is cheap. Ten packages for ten dollars at Tops, so guess what we just bought a whole hell of a lot of.
Even before that though, I considered it a personal challenge to win people over to tofu. People like my brother in law Sean, who likes food but hates tofu. Sean is a fine cook, but his dislike of tofu is one of principle, because he sees tofu being used as a substitute for meat. On those grounds, I’d hate it too–something like a “tofu steak” is an insult to steak and to tofu. (see also: turkey “bacon”)
When I was at their house last week (that’s Indiana, not Montana, for those who are keeping score), I added frozen tofu to gongbao chicken, which I think is a very good combination with the strong taste of the chicken and the other vegetables. Sean admitted that he wasn’t crazy about it, in that he wouldn’t seek out tofu to add to dishes in this way, but gladly conceded that the dish changed his mind about tofu being Satan’s own creation. I’ll take that as a win.
Now back to our recipe.
The tofu is dry fried to remove the water, and then tossed in honey, soy sauce and sesame. The combination of sweet and salty is nice, and pan frying the tofu gives it a nice chewy texture. I made this once for Misa just to fill up a half empty lunchbox, and apparently they got passed around the office with an enthusiastic order for more.
Honey sesame tofu snacks
Slice one package of firm or extra firm tofu, into pieces about one inch long and 1/4 inch wide (2 cm and 1/2 cm). Pan fry these in a single layer on low heat in a wide non-stick pan. You can do this with little or no oil, since what you are really doing is drying them out. When they have browned slightly and developed a bit of a crust (five to ten minutes, depending on the heat), turn and do the other side.
(Protip: unless you have a high enough tolerance for pain to do this by hand, it’s a good idea to first check that no one decided put all the spatulas in the dishwasher)
When the pieces of tofu are nicely browned (visibly smaller, but not completely dried out) sprinkle in about 2 tablespoons of sesame seeds, 1 teaspoon of corn starch, and a pinch of salt. Toss these around to coat the tofu (which should move easily around the pan), add about 2 tablespoons of honey and a light drizzle of soy sauce. Again toss to coat, heating briefly, if the heat from the pan is not enough to immediately thicken the honey.
Let cool and serve. Easy, cheap and surprisingly tasty as is, or you could add a bit of grated ginger (with the honey) or chili flakes (with the sesame) to sharpen up the taste. Heck, you could even add a squeeze of sriracha, you want to impress the kids down at the vape shop.