Growing up, tofu was a midweek staple on our dining table, served in stir-fries and soups, stuffed in fish cakes or fried. In my vegetarian household, it’s our main source of protein used in dishes in all cuisines – from a turmeric-accented scrambled tofu egg for tacos to a vegan palak paneer-style dish with fried tofu instead of cheese.
This recipe is a riff from a Sino-American classic, sesame chicken. Achieving a crispy coating around the tofu is key – this adds to the overall texture of the finished dish. After trying different types of flours and starches, I found that cornstarch offers the ideal level of crunch while keeping it slightly crispy even after soaking up the sauce. Those familiar with sesame chickens may know that the “sesame” component is sometimes limited to a ceremonial sprinkling of seeds. However, this version improves on the sesame game by including an untraditional but logical addition: tahini! Made from ground sesame seeds, it adds a delicious richness.
This method of frying tofu is also great for those who love salt and pepper tofu: All you have to do is sprinkle this salt and pepper mixture over your crispy tofu: ½ tsp. Sugar, ½ tsp. freshly ground white pepper, ¼ tsp. ground ginger, ½ tsp. Five-spice powder and 2 tsp. Diamond crystal or 1¼ tsp. Morton kosher salt. – Hetty McKinnon