Firm tofu, when prepared and cooked properly, is an ingredient that can delight time and time again. Most people just don’t know how to cook it properly. In this recipe, we use cornstarch to give the tofu a tremendous crunchy texture. The Sichuan sauce is really authentic — sticky, sweet, and spicy, exactly like the Sichuan sauce you’d expect to get in a Chinese restaurant. Served with jasmine rice, sesame seeds, and a sprinkling of scallions, this might be the perfect at-home takeout!
2 (10 oz) blocks firm tofu
1 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp vegetable oil
½ cup cornstarch
Salt and black pepper
Bunch of scallions
2 (8.5 oz) pouches cooked jasmine rice
2 tbsp sesame seeds
For The Sauce:
1 1/2 tsp Sichuan peppercorns (or normal peppercorns if you can’t find them)
1 1/2 tsp chile flakes
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 garlic clove
3/4-inch piece of fresh ginger
1/4 cup soy sauce
3 tbsp maple syrup
2 tbsp rice vinegar or lime juice
Preheat the oven to 425°F; Line a baking sheet; Skillet; Pestle and mortar; Microplane or fine grater; Small skillet
1. Prepare the tofu: Cut the tofu into ¾-inch cubes. Put the soy sauce and 1 tablespoon of the oil in a bowl and mix. Tip the cornstarch into a separate bowl and season with salt and pepper. Add the tofu chunks to the soy mixture and toss, then dip and roll in the cornstarch to coat the pieces. Spread out on the lined baking sheet. Bake in the oven for 15 minutes. Chop all but one of the scallions into 1 1/4-inch lengths. When the tofu has been cooking for 5 minutes, take the pan out of the oven and arrange the scallions around the tofu. Drizzle with 1 tablespoon of the oil. Return to the oven to cook for the remaining 10 minutes, until the tofu is crisp and the scallions are softened.
2. Meanwhile, make the sauce: Set the skillet over high heat. Tip the peppercorns and chile flakes into the hot pan and toast for 1 minute, then transfer to a mortar and crush well. Reduce the heat to medium and add the oil. Peel the garlic. Tip the spices back into the pan. Grate the garlic and ginger directly into the pan. Add the rest of the sauce ingredients and bubble over medium heat until glossy.
3. Prepare the rice: Heat the rice according to the package instructions and tip it into a bowl. Halve the limes and squeeze the juice of one into the rice. Season well. Slice the other lime into wedges. Slice the final scallion.
4. Toast the sesame seeds: Put the small skillet over medium-high heat. Add the sesame seeds and toast them until golden. Take off the heat and set aside.
5. To finish: Take the baking sheet out of the oven. Set aside the scallions and tip the crispy tofu into the sauce. Stir to coat.
6. To serve: Spoon the rice onto plates and top with the crispy tofu and roasted scallions. Sprinkle with the toasted sesame seeds and sliced fresh scallion. Serve with the lime wedges.
From Speedy Bosh! by Henry Firth and Ian Theasby. Copyright © 2020 by Henry Firth and Ian Theasby. Reprinted by permission of William Morrow, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers.
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