Orange chicken-style tofu (2-3 servings)

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The more I cook with tofu, the more I'm impressed with its versatility. It can be flavored to taste like just about anything, and its texture can change depending on how it's prepared. Lately, I'm lusting after my friend Lisa's new TofuXpress, which draws the water out of a block of tofu to make it chewier and firmer. Apparently, freezing and thawing tofu gives it a "meatier" texture, but I haven't tried it yet.

The sauce is really what makes this recipe great. My favorite local Asian restaurant dish is the orange tofu from Jade Palace in Carrboro, and this sauce comes pretty darn close. It's not as sticky and thick as the restaurant's, but the flavor is almost as good!

You will need:

  • 3 Tbsp canola oil
  • 1 lb extra-firm tofu, drained, pressed, and chopped into bite-sized pieces
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 green onions, chopped
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 3 Tbsp orange juice
  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 3 Tbsp rice vinegar
  • 4 Tbsp low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1 Tbsp grated fresh ginger (or ginger juice)
  • 4 tsp flour + 2 Tbsp warm water

Steps:

  1. Heat 2 Tbsp canola oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Saute the tofu pieces in oil until browned, turning occasionally. Set aside.
  2. Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, saute garlic and green onions in the remaining tablespoon of oil over medium-high heat. Saute until the garlic is just golden.
  3. Add the rest of the sauce ingredients (water through ginger) to the saucepan; bring to a soft boil. Reduce the heat to medium.
  4. In a small cup, mix flour and water until blended. Pour into the sauce mixture, stirring constantly. Cook and stir over medium heat until the sauce reaches the desired consistency.
  5. Remove the sauce from heat and mix in the browned tofu. Serve with steamed rice and broccoli.

The only problem I had with this recipe was that the sauce reached an intense, bubble-snapping boil and made a mess on my stovetop. That's probably the fault of the evil "safely plates" on the stove though, because they hold heat for too long.

I added ginger to the original recipe, and I'm so happy I did. It gives the sauce a warmth and bite that it would otherwise lack. I was able to put this dish together in under half an hour (not counting tofu draining time) and had some leftovers for Bryan for lunch the next day. Definitely give this one a try the next time you're craving takeout!