Growing up in a small suburb outside of Boston, our restaurant options were very limited. We basically had three mediocre pizza places and greasy Chinese food (the Starbucks didn’t even open until after I left for college!). Needless to say, my family didn’t eat out all that much. When we did, it was usually the same Chinese takeout: vegetable lo mein for my dad, cold peanut noodles “not spicy” for my mom, and crispy sesame chicken for my brother and me. I don’t even want to know what was in that sticky, overly sweet, fried chicken, but I’m happy to say that I’ve come up with a much healthier, crispy sesame tofu that grown-up me thinks is even better!
This crispy sesame tofu dish has lots of baby spinach, scallions, and sesame seeds. The key to getting your tofu crispy without frying is detailed in my recipe instructions below, but basically all you need to do is press your tofu to remove excess water (30 minutes is ideal), then coat it in a bit of cornstarch before baking and sautéing in sesame sauce. And that sesame sauce! It’s a 5-ingredient mix of tamari (or soy sauce), rice vinegar, maple syrup, sesame oil, and cornstarch. The addition of cornstarch helps create that thick, semi-sticky factor that coats the crispy tofu and takes it into better-than-takeout territory.
You could totally serve your sesame tofu and greens over classic white or brown rice; lately I’ve been into using wild rice that I’ve cooked in vegetable broth instead of water. Not only does wild rice have that addictive chew factor happening, the veggie broth makes it extra flavorful too.
- ¾ cup wild rice
- 1½ cups vegetable broth
- 1 package (16 ounces) extra firm tofu, pressed then cubed
- 1 tablespoon avocado oil
- 1 tablespoon tamari (or soy sauce)
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- 4 ounces baby spinach
- 2 scallions, sliced thin
- 1½ tablespoons sesame seeds
- 2 tablespoons tamari (or soy sauce)
- 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
- 2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
- 1 tablespoon sesame oil
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- ¼ cup cold water
- Make the rice: Add the wild rice and vegetable broth to a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil, uncovered, over high heat. Once boiling, reduce the heat to a simmer, cover, and cook according to package instructions (about 35 minutes) until tender and chewy.
- While the rice cooks, bake the tofu: Preheat the oven to 450° F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. In a medium bowl, gently toss the tofu, avocado oil, tamari, and cornstarch together. Arrange in an even layer on the baking sheet, leaving space around each piece of tofu to allow it to crisp up. Bake for 25-30 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through.
- While the tofu bakes, prepare the sesame sauce: In a small bowl, whisk together the tamari, rice vinegar, maple syrup, sesame oil, cornstarch, and cold water.
- Make the sesame tofu: Heat a large non-stick skillet over medium heat. Add the prepared sesame sauce and bring to a low boil for 30 seconds, stirring constantly. Reduce the heat to a simmer and add the tofu and baby spinach, stirring every so often to coat them in the sauce. Cook until the spinach has wilted, about 2 minutes. Stir in the sliced scallions and sesame seeds.
- To serve: Divide the wild rice between plates or bowls. Top with crispy sesame tofu.