Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Pan fried tofu with a lemon soy glaze

Every Chinese restaurant in NYC has a version of lemon sesame chicken a.k.a. fried pieces of chicken with a lemon based sauce sprinkled with sesame seeds. I tried to re-create the same with tofu for my vegetarian crew.
It was easy and delicious - crisp pieces of tofu covered in a sweet, sour and salty glaze. Matched the restaurant version to a tee, but even better since the tofu was not deep fried with a batter. You have to try it to see how good it is.

Pan fried tofu with a lemon soy glaze
1 block of firm or extra firm organic tofu (14 oz)
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 teaspoons cornflour
1 1/2 tablespoons canola oil

For the glaze
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 teaspoon, peeled and finely minced fresh ginger
¼ cup vegetable stock (you can use soup cubes crumbled in water as a substitute - check for salt)
2 - 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice,depending on how lemony you like the dish to be
2 teaspoons grated lemon zest (zest of one lemon)
1 tablespoon soy sauce
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon cornflour, dissolved in 1 tablespoon water
  1. Place the block of drained tofu on a shallow edged plate and place another plate on top of the tofu. Now place a weight on top like a can of chickpeas to press the tofu to get rid of the excess liquid. Keep the weight on for 10 minutes. Remove the weight and the plate and drain off the excess liquid. Pat the tofu dry with a kitchen towel and cut into 2 inch by 1 inch pieces. Sprinkle 1 teaspoon of kosher salt on the tofu to leach out additional liquid. Let the tofu sit with the salt for 15 minutes. Then dry the tofu pieces with a clean paper towel and spread them out onto a plate.
  2. Heat 1 tablespoon canola oil in a 10 inch heavy bottomed skillet. While the oil becomes hot, sprinkle 2 teaspoons of cornflour on the tofu. This will give the tofu a wonderful crust. When ripples begin to form in the pan, place the tofu in a single layer and let it cook for 2 minutes. Once brown, flip with a thin edged spatula like a fish spatula to brown the other side. Cook for 3 more minutes. Remove from the pan and set aside.
  3. In the same skillet, add another two teaspoons of canola oil. Add the garlic and ginger and cook for about 30 seconds. Add the vegetable stock, lemon juice, lemon zest, soy sauce, and sugar. Stir until the sugar is dissolved and simmer until the liquid is reduced and beginning to get syrup like. Stir in the cornflour mixture to thicken the sauce. Quickly add the tofu. Toss to coat with the sauce and serve immediately.
Serves 2 very hungry people or 3 with another side

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