Back in grad school, I had a friend who was a vegan, and I was so fascinated (and honestly, a little horrified) by the concept. But then she taught me how to make this dish, and the first time I tasted it I realized it’s possible to be vegan and still eat really yummy things.
The marinated tofu is so moist and full of flavor you really don’t need an extra sauce to go with it, and the sesame and cornstarch crust adds a nice crispy texture. I like to serve this over brown rice with some sauteed greens.
The only things I changed to her simple recipe was to press the tofu first so that it’s a little sturdier and can absorb more of the soy sauce and orange juice marinade. I also like to add a little sesame oil to the marinade to bring out the sesame flavor a little more. If I had had black sesame seeds, I would have used a 1:2 mix of black to white sesame seeds in the crust for more visual contrast.
1 block firm tofu
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup orange juice
1/2 teaspoon sesame oil (optional)
5 tablespoons sesame seeds
5 tablespoons cornstarch
Vegetable oil, for frying
Drain the tofu and set on a plate lined with a couple of layers of paper towels. Place another couple layers of paper towels on top and another plate on top of that. Add some weights (I usually use some canned goods) to the top plate and press the tofu for 30 minutes. replacing the paper towels after 15 minutes.
Discard the wet paper towels, and slice the tofu half and then into 1″ wide sticks.
Combine the soy sauce, orange juice, and sesame oil in a large Ziploc bag and add the tofu sticks. Remove as much air as possible from the bag and seal. Marinate in the refrigerator for at least an hour or overnight.
Mix 2 tablespoons each of sesame seeds and cornstarch in a small plate. Add enough oil in a small saucepan to reach 1/4″ height and start heating over medium heat.
Remove a few tofu sticks from the bag and coat all over with the sesame seed mixture.
Fry in batches until golden brown on all sides. Add more sesame seeds and cornstarch to the plate as needed to continue coating the tofu. When done, remove from the pan and let drain on a paper towel-lined plate.