My first recipe – yay! I love trying new dishes so last week when I had some leftover tofu I was determined to not just rustle up a stir fry, curry or tofu burgers like I usually would. I often spend my train home researching recipes and meal planning, which is when I stumbled across this incredible list of tofu (stick with me, meat fans and tofu deniers). I’m a sucker for South Asian flavours so decided to create a take on the Vietnamese sesame-crusted tofu. I serve this tofu dish with spring greens and peanut and mustard noodle salad.
Getting tofu right can be quite tricky. Always ensure you drain the tofu, unless doing something like tofu scramble where a bit of liquid is welcome. If marinading do so for over an hour ideally, although 20 minutes will do. However, I once went to a vegetarian Vietnamese pop-up by Jade & Verde and they had marinated the tofu for two days – WOW. It was the most flavoursome, succulent tofu I have ever tasted! Even my meat-eater boyfriend thought it was exceptional and ‘took on flavour like meat does’. I’ve never managed to plan that far ahead but definitely want to try it one day. This recipe doesn’t actual require marinading which makes it a good one for first time tofu-ers.
Vietnamese sesame-crusted tofu
Sesame and mustard-crusted tofu
- 200g tofu, drained and pressed
- 1 tbsp dairy-free milk*
- 2 tbsp breadcrumbs
- 1 tbsp sesame seeds
- 1 tbsp mustard seeds
- 1 tbsp vegetable oil, for frying
- 1 spring onion, sliced for garnish
Nuoc cham (dipping sauce)
- 2 tbsp sugar
- ½ lime, juiced
- 1 tbsp soy sauce
- 1 tbsp rice wine vinegar
- 1 red chilli, sliced
- 2 cloves of garlic, sliced
- 150g pak choi, leaves separated
- 100g spinach
- 1 tsp vegetable oil
- ¾ inch fresh ginger, grated
- 1-2 garlic cloves, crushed
- 1 tbsp clear honey (or agave syrup for vegan option)
- 1 tsp soy sauce
- 1 spring onion, sliced diagonally
*note: I originally used egg to bind but have since adapted the recipe since becoming vegan.
Drain the tofu and cut into four slices about 1cm thick. Press the tofu for at least 30 minutes by laying the slices on kitchen roll or a clean tea towel, with another kitchen roll or towel on top. Press down with heavy items – I like to use several cookbooks!
Mix all of the ingredients of the nuoc cham, ensuring that the sugar is dissolved, and leave to one side. Feel free to use more or less chilli and garlic to suit personal taste.
Put the milk into a small tub or bowl, large enough to dip the tofu pieces in.
Mix the breadcrumbs, sesame seeds and mustard seeds in another bowl.
Coat the pieces of tofu, one at a time, in the milk and then the breadcrumb mix.
Heat the oil in a large non-stick pan over a medium-high heat. When the oil is hot add two slices of tofu at a time. Crisp to golden brown on either side, about 3-4 minutes each side, taking care to not let them brown too quickly.
Drain on kitchen roll and cook the other slices.
To make the spring greens, wash the pak choi and spinach. You can substitute for other spring greens if you wish.
Heat the oil in a wok, or large frying pan, and fry the ginger and garlic. Add the pak choi, spinach, honey/agave syrup and soy sauce until the vegetables and wilted and the honey/syrup is mixed through.
Stir in the sliced spring onions and serve. You can add chilli slices or flakes as garnish if you want some added bite.
Garnish the tofu with the spring onion and serve two per person, with the dipping sauce and spring greens.