Here’s a quick and easy way to turn tofu from bland to delicious. A recipe that will change your perception of tofu!
Crispy Sesame-Crusted Tofu Steaks
Let’s put away some inconvenient truths about tofu. To many people, tofu looks strange. And then there are the weird textures to deal with.
It doesn’t help that the internet is flooded with recipes that use tofu as a meat substitute in traditional dishes, but it doesn’t exactly improve them.Tofu Bolognese and Tofu Cottage Like pie – no! Or try to convince you that the tofu cheesecake is absolutely real and authentic. *She bends down as the vegan is throwing rotten tomatoes all over.*
So what’s the point of tofu?
Well made and delicious. It is he one of the world’s largest sources of vegetable protein. Low calorie, low carb, fresh soy flavor makes this a wonderfully flavorful sponge cake.
So today I’m sharing a simple recipe to get the most out of tofu. The tofu is cut into steaks, sprinkled with sesame seeds and fried until crisp. The crunchiness of the sesame not only accentuates the flavor, but also serves as a coating for the teriyaki sauce. Teriyaki sauce literally squirts into your mouth with every bite – and we love it!
Best Tofu for Tofu Steaks
ofu is very common these days. They come in a wide range of textures and styles, from very soft, creamy, custard-like versions that require careful handling, to firm, almost halloumi-like textures.
To make a tofu steak, you need firm tofu that you can handle like a steak. It should be able to be sliced, sprinkled with sesame seeds, and pan-fried. It is sold under the label of ‘hard tofu’ or ‘hard tofu’.
If you’re confused about the label, it’s easy to see when you pick up the package. If the tofu is hard enough to cut without worrying about it crumbling, this recipe is fine.
Here is the brand of hard tofu I use. This is from Harris Farms (Sydney).
What else you need to make Sesame-Crusted Tofu Steak
- Hard tofu or firm tofu – As described in the above section. Find it at everyday grocery stores or Asian stores.
- Sesame seeds – For the crispy coating. I use a combination of white and black seeds for visual interest. You can use just one or the other, if you prefer.You will need 8 tablespoons of sesame seeds to coat 4 x 100g / 3.5oz steaks. This will seem like a lot, but trust me, you will use it all. We’re talking a big hit of sesame flavour here – and you’ll love it!
- Egg and flour – To stick the sesame seeds to the tofu. Egg is the ultimate food glue!
FOR THE TERIYAKI SAUCE
- Soy sauce – I use Kikkoman for all my Japanese cooking. It’s the most well-known Japanese soy brand and an excellent all rounder. Japanese soy is slightly sweeter and more mild in flavour than Chinese light soy sauce, but the latter will do in a pinch. Otherwise use any other general-purpose soy sauce.DO NOT use anything labelled “dark soy sauce” or “sweet soy sauce” (it will ruin teriyaki sauce!).
- Mirin – Syrupy and golden coloured, mirin is a heavily sweetened type of rice wine with a deep flavour. It features frequently in Japanese food, introducing sweetness to dishes and when reduced gives glazes like teriyaki their sheen. Good brands include Takara, Manjo and Hinode.Avoid very cheap mirin that is not made in Japan which is usually an imitation product (such as Obento brand widely available here in Australia).
- Cooking sake – Rice wine is used liberally in Japanese cooking to add umami and depth. Don’t bother wasting that boutique drinking sake you lugged all the way back from Japan for cooking, though! Cooking sake is much cheaper and perfectly acceptable for use, and these days widely available even at grocery stores.
- Garlic – Finely sliced then fried in a little oil until crispy and golden, this is for a little tasty garnish on the tofu steaks. Bonus: It flavours the oil we use to pan fry the sesame steaks. Shortcut: Use store bought crispy fried shallots. Regular readers know my pantry is never without!
- Green onion – To add a little sprinkle of colour to an otherwise rather monochromatic dish!
How to make Sesame-Crusted Tofu Steaks
Here’s how to make tofu steaks that might just make you shout for the first time ever, “I TOTALLY LOVE TOFU!”
- Tofu slices (see photo above) – Cut tofu into “steaks” about 1/2 inch thick. Blocks come in a variety of sizes, but don’t get hung up on tofu proportions. Thickness is more important.
- Sesame bread crumbs – First, sprinkle the tofu with flour so that it covers the entire surface. Dust off excess flour and dip in beaten egg. After removing from the egg, drain excess water and place in a bowl with sesame seeds.
- Once it’s pressed together, put the sesame seeds on top (using a spoon or your finger) or twist and press. Repeat with remaining tofu steaks.
- Golden Garlic – Fry garlic slices in a little oil until golden brown. Don’t let it get too brown. It tastes bitter. The garlic slivers will burn like lightning fast, so use medium to low heat here to be safe.
- Drain the garlic with a paper towel. Leaves a delicious garlic flavored oil in the pot for tofu
- Fry tofu in skillet – Increase heat to medium-high, then add tofu steaks. Cook until the white sesame seeds are golden brown and crisp, about 1 1/2 minutes on one side. There is also a scent of sesame, and when you turn it over, you can feel that the sesame skin is tightly adhered to the surface of the tofu.
- The skin may be hardened, but that doesn’t qualify you to handle tofu. So turn carefully.
- Roasted Crust – Cook the other side until crisp, about 90 seconds. Next, line the tofu steaks vertically with tongs so the sides are crispy. It only takes about 30 seconds per edge.
- Place the tofu steak directly onto a serving plate or platter. Make teriyaki sauce in the same pan.
Making the Teriyaki Sauce
- Mix and simmer – Mix mirin, cooking sake, soy sauce, and water in a pitcher. Don’t try to omit this by pouring each sauce into the pan one at a time. If a small amount of sweet liquid hits the hot pan, it will evaporate and caramelize, or worse, scorch in seconds. In order for this not to happen, a minimum amount of liquid is required.
- Syrup – Simmer until watery to syrupy, about 1 minute. I’m looking for a thin syrup here because (a) it thickens as it cools from hot to warm (i.e. from pan to plate to mouth). (b) If it is too thick, the flavor will be too strong and will overwhelm the dish.
- Immediately pour the teriyaki sauce over the sesame tofu steak. Sprinkle with the crunchy garlic and green onions and enjoy!
Mmm, that Teriyaki Sauce-soaked sesame crust …
The sesame skin keeps its crispy texture for a while even after the sauce is applied. It takes much longer than serving and eating.
Another great feature of this dish is that the teriyaki sauce sticks to the sesame seeds. When you take a bite and bite into the sesame seeds, the teriyaki sauce spreads in your mouth.
What to serve with Sesame-Crusted Tofu
Plain Rice – Enough flavor and sauce left to accompany a plain rice side dish. Optional: white rice, jasmine, basmati, brown rice, cauliflower rice (for those with a lower carb willpower than me). . Fried rice or spiced rice works well. Below are some suggestions.