This has been an exciting week. Not only is it the final week before my Occupational Therapy licensing exam, I also have a house guest staying over for the week. As with any guest, be it dinner guest or house guest, my inner grandma has an urge to FEED PEOPLE! So I have been busy cooking up a storm this week. From cottage pies to quesadillas and plantains, Taiwanese bolognese to taro tapioca sweet soups… The list keeps going. But my pride and joy? It’s creating something that people have raved about and making it taste just the same or better!
My guest had been on a recent trip to Japan, where she raved about a fried tofu with a toasted sesame dressing that allegedly blew her mind. Determined to blow her gastronomical mind, I decided to recreate her dish as I had imagined in my mind. My recipe pairs a beautifully crusted fried tofu with hints of onion and garlic, topped with a sweet, tangy and umami-filled roasted sesame dressing. To accent the dish, I topped it with Togarashi (a blend of citrus and Japanese spices/chili) and smoky green onions.
Fried Tofu with Roasted Sesame Dressing
Makes 8-10 Tofu Cubes
- ½ cup flour
- 1/2 Cup & 2 tablespoons cornstarch (divided)
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1 tsp onion powder
- 1 tsp salt
- ½ tsp + extra Togarashi (may substitute with cayenne)
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 C soda water
- 1 lb soft Tofu (soft, NOT silken)
- oil, for frying
- 2 stalks of chopped green onion
- Roasted Sesame Dressing (Recipe to follow)
The Fun Part:
- Prepare the Roasted Sesame Vinaigrette and place chopped green onion in a heat resistant container (eg. ceramic ramekin).
- Cut tofu into cubes (3-inch x 1 inch), place it between kitchen towels and let it sit for 10 minutes to soak up the excess water.
- In a bowl, blend 1/4 cup flour, 2 tablespoon cornstarch, garlic powder, onion powder, salt, cayenne, and baking soda. Place the remaining 1/2 cup cornstarch in a separate bowl.
- Fill a small pot with 3 inches of oil over medium heat until rippling (at 350F). If you have wooden chopsticks, a good test is to dip the tip into the hot oil. If the oil is ready, the wooden chopsticks should elicit rapid bubbling around the chopstick tips.
- Whisk the soda water into the seasoned flour-cornstarch mixture.
- Dip each tofu cube first in the plain flour, to coat, then dip in the flour-seltzer batter. Carefully drop the battered tofu cubes into the hot oil and let fry until golden-brown, about 2-3 minutes. Remove from the oil with a slotted spoon and place on a cooling rack to drain.
- Take 2 tablespoons of hot oil used for frying and heat in a saucepan/frying pan until smoking. Pour hot oil onto green onions in a heat resistant contaner. Expect a delightful crackle when the oil hits the onions. Toss until all green onions are coated with a thin sheen of smoked oil. Add a pinch of salt to accentuate flavours.
- To Assemble Tofu: Top fried tofu with the Roasted Sesame Vinagrette, top with a sprinkle of Togarashi, and finish with a few green onions. Serve immediately or the tofu will lose it’s crisp!
Roasted Sesame Dressing
Makes about 1 cup
- 6 Tbsp roasted white sesame seeds
- 5 Tbsp mayonnaise (Use Hellmann’s or Kewpie/ Vegan Mayo for vegan option)
- 4 Tbsp rice vinegar
- 3 Tbsp light soy sauce
- 2 tsp sugar
- 1 tsp mirin
- 1 tsp tahini
- 1 tsp. sesame oil
The Fun Part:
- Preheat oven to 350F. Put sesame seeds on a baking sheet in one layer, and pop in the oven for 8-10mins or until seeds are a deep golden brown.
- Grind the toasted sesame seeds with a mortar and pestle until smooth. I enjoy grinding mine till it is partly powdered with some crushed, but “whole” grains of sesame.
- Combine all the ingredients in a bowl and whisk everything together. Taste, and adjust vinegar and sugar to taste. Dressing can last in the fridge for a week.