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Sesame Crusted Tofu

Sesame Crusted Tofu

In our household, the lifespan of a recipe is often short lived. It gets made. Photographed. Enjoyed. Posted. And soon thereafter, forgotten, set by the wayside for whatever new batch of recipes we’re making the next week. As good as they might have been, we’re just not in the habit of repeating things (such is the life of a food blogger), and most of the recipes I post here share a similar fate.

This recipe, on the other hand, deserves your full and lasting attention. It was a recipe I expected to like; but it wasn’t something I expected to blow me away. I mean it’s pretty simple, just tofu crusted in panko and sesame and lightly fried, with a sweet and salty Vietnamese dipping sauce. But the fact that we’ve made it four times in the past few weeks says a lot about it.

Sesame Crusted Tofu

This recipe has a lot of things going for it: it’s healthy, yet still has just enough fried flavor to satisfy your unhealthiest cravings. It’s ridiculously simple, and (assuming you remembered to get your tofu draining beforehand) only takes about 20 minutes to put together. I’d call that a win-win.

But the dipping sauce is what seals the deal. It’s called nuoc cham, a Vietnamese dipping sauce made from little more than lime juice, fish sauce, sugar, garlic, and spicy red pepper. If you’ve ever been to a Vietnamese restaurant, this is the sauce they serve with their crispy egg rolls that makes them so irresistible. On it’s own the fish sauce might be repulsive (I can’t stand the smell and make Taylor do that part always), but combined with the other ingredients and splashed on the crispy bites of fried tofu, it’s perfection. Just the right amount of sugar, salt, tang, and spice.

I need more recipes like this one in my life.

Sesame Crusted Tofu

Yield: 2 servings

Cook Time: 20 minutes

Total Time: 2 hours

Ingredients:

For Tofu:

  • 1 (16oz) package extra-firm tofu
  • 1 egg
  • 3 tablespoons panko bread crumbs
  • 2 tablespoons white sesame seeds
  • 1 tablespoon black sesame seeds
  • canola oil for frying
  • green onions, sliced

For Dipping Sauce:

  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 3 tablespoons lime juice
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons fish sauce, or to taste
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, optional

Directions:

  1. Slice the tofu into half-inch-thick slices. Arrange on a layer of paper towels in a baking dish. Top with more paper towels, then another baking dish and some heavy objects, soup cans, or books. Let sit for at least one hour to allow as much moisture to drain from the tofu as possible.
  2. While tofu is draining, prepare dipping sauce by combining sugar, lime juice, fish sauce, garlic, and red pepper flakes in a small bowl. Add more fish sauce, to taste, if desired.
  3. In a shallow dish, beat the egg 1 teaspoon of water. In another shallow dish, stir together the panko and sesame seeds.
  4. Working with one piece at a time, dip the tofu into the egg, then dredge it in the sesame-panko mixture until completely coated. Repeat with the remaining slices.
  5. Heat a large nonstick frying pan over medium-high heat. Add about 2 to 3 teaspoons of oil, enough to form a thin layer on the bottom of the pan. Arrange tofu slices in pan and cook for about 3 to 4 minutes per side or until golden brown. Transfer to serving dishes; garnish with scallions and serve with dipping sauce.

Recipe from Alexandra's Kitchen.

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53 CommentsLeave a Comment →

  1. 1
    Posted On June 18, 2013 at 8:27 am

    Ahhh! I can’t wait to make this. It looks incredible! I definitely need more ways to cook tofu =)

    Reply

  2. 2
    Posted On June 18, 2013 at 8:35 am

    Ooh this looks really yummy. I love some fried tofu, but never really knew how to get it just right. I can’t wait to try this (and remember the draining process!).

    Reply

  3. 3
    Posted On June 18, 2013 at 8:36 am

    I struggle with finding ways to cook tofu. This recipe sounds absolutely delicious and I’m looking forward to trying it.

    Reply

  4. 4
    Posted On June 18, 2013 at 8:46 am

    This looks utterly delicious! Usually I’d bake my tofu to get the crispy texture but fried looks so much better!!

    Reply

  5. 5
    Posted On June 18, 2013 at 8:49 am

    This looks and sound amazing!

    Reply

  6. 6
    Posted On June 18, 2013 at 9:03 am

    OMG! Looks wonderful!

    Reply

  7. 7
    Posted On June 18, 2013 at 9:06 am

    This looks seriously yum. We eat tofu about once a month but I’d like to use it a little more – this looks like a lovely, toasty, simple recipe.

    Reply

  8. 8
    Posted On June 18, 2013 at 9:07 am

    this looks SO good. i love that golden brown crust you have on there and i adore tofu and that dipping sauce you always get at Vietnamese restaurants. I’m bookmarking this! I want to make it asap!

    Reply

  9. 9
    Posted On June 18, 2013 at 9:15 am

    I have always wanted to try that sauce, I’ve heard about it. Sound so easy to make. The crust on this tofu looks absolutely perfect.

    I know what you mean about never having anything twice…the food blogging life!

    Reply

  10. 10
    Posted On June 18, 2013 at 9:21 am

    The recipes that stand the test of time are priceless. This looks amazing Lindsay – I often order crispy tofu whenever I see it on the menu. I need to make it at home!

    Reply

  11. 11
    Posted On June 18, 2013 at 9:44 am

    beautiful recipe!!!

    Reply

  12. 12
    Nessa
    Posted On June 18, 2013 at 10:01 am

    I love tofu! This looks terrific :)

    Reply

  13. 13
    Posted On June 18, 2013 at 10:09 am

    Yum! My mother and sister would love this recipe. It might actually get me to get regular tofu that I have to drain rather than the pre-baked kind they have at Trader Joe’s. That. Is impressive. Thanks for the recipe!

    Reply

  14. 14
    Posted On June 18, 2013 at 10:20 am

    You just gave me a new way to cook tofu. Thanks for sharing this lovely recipe.

    Reply

  15. 15
    Posted On June 18, 2013 at 10:47 am

    What a great recipe! But it’s so true no matter how obsessed I am with a recipe it seems like I continue to try new things instead of remaking it. I’ll have to try this!

    Reply

  16. 16
    Posted On June 18, 2013 at 12:22 pm

    I make this all the time and it is soooo good. Such a winner. I actually have some leftover nuoc cham in my fridge so maybe it’s happening again tonight!

    Reply

  17. 17
    Posted On June 18, 2013 at 12:39 pm

    Oh, yes please! Crunchy sesame seed crust plus hot soft tofu sounds like the best plan ever. :)

    Reply

  18. 18
    Posted On June 18, 2013 at 1:16 pm

    So gorgeous! I can’t wait to try this!

    Reply

  19. 19
    Posted On June 18, 2013 at 2:10 pm

    My dinner invitation must’ve gotten lost in the mail. :D

    I never thought to use panko! I’ve done oven-fried and pan-fried before, but I usually don’t do an egg wash, but it’s definitely essential to a crispy crust that stays attached (I’m just too lazy).

    I didn’t know there was fish juice in those sauces. :(

    Reply

  20. 20
    Posted On June 18, 2013 at 2:51 pm

    I’m honestly terrified of trying tofu but you sure do make it look delicious.

    Reply

  21. 21
    Posted On June 18, 2013 at 3:05 pm

    teehee! tell me about it. Somedays hubby would say ‘ will you never make that dish again’. Bloggers and our hunt for something new to eat everyday :)

    Reply

  22. 22
    Posted On June 18, 2013 at 3:59 pm

    I’m always looking for new ways for tofu and I love this one. I know what you mean about one recipe, then on to the next and the next, although some do become family favourites.

    Reply

  23. 23
    Posted On June 18, 2013 at 4:41 pm

    This is absolutely lovely!! Gorgeous recipe!

    Reply

  24. 24
    Posted On June 18, 2013 at 5:33 pm

    Beautiful! I’m alwayyssss looking for new ways to make tofu!

    Reply

  25. 25
    Posted On June 18, 2013 at 7:40 pm

    These look amazing! I will have to make this next time my vegan friends are over! (once I sub out the egg and fish sauce)

    Reply

  26. 26
    Posted On June 18, 2013 at 7:41 pm

    Wow this looks so stunning. This is normally not something I would eat but I am seriously intrigued now.

    Reply

  27. 27
    Posted On June 18, 2013 at 8:23 pm

    I like eating this kind of tofu with a ponzu dipping sauce, but the nuoc cham sauce sounds good too!

    Reply

  28. 28
    Posted On June 18, 2013 at 9:34 pm

    Ohhh, this is tofu I can get behind!!

    Reply

  29. 29
    Jess
    Posted On June 18, 2013 at 10:31 pm

    I’ve been looking for a good tofu recipe and this hit the nail on the head. Thanks for sharing; can’t wait to try!

    Reply

  30. 30
    Posted On June 19, 2013 at 12:26 am

    That looks delicious, a simple but beautiful dish!

    Reply

  31. 31
    Posted On June 19, 2013 at 1:07 am

    I definitely don’t repeat many recipes – only the good ones make recurrent appearances, and I’m sure this one will make the cut!

    Reply

  32. 32
    Posted On June 19, 2013 at 3:25 am

    I’m not even a big fan of tofu but that looks lovely – might be convert afterall :-)

    Reply

  33. 33
    Abby
    Posted On June 19, 2013 at 5:11 am

    This looks amazing! Do you have any ideas of a vegetarian substitution for fish sauce?

    Reply

  34. 34
    Posted On June 19, 2013 at 12:39 pm

    This looks fabulous! Love tofu dishes and this sesame panko crust sounds amazing!

    Reply

  35. 35
    Posted On June 19, 2013 at 5:02 pm

    Ehat a lovely coinsidence. My hubby came back home today and said that he found a place with home made tofu :)

    Reply

  36. 36
    Posted On June 19, 2013 at 10:15 pm

    I love tofu, and this recipe looks and sounds so yummy! Will have to try it.

    Reply

  37. 37
    Posted On June 20, 2013 at 11:15 pm

    I have been looking for a new and inspiring tofu recipe! I am so sick of the ones I usually make. I also happen to have all of those ingredients on hand! I feel a touch giddy at the thought!

    By the way – I also find fish sauce revolting but I pinch my nose and power through because it does magical things when cooked!

    Reply

  38. 38
    Posted On June 25, 2013 at 12:11 pm

    This looks like a perfect gateway recipe for tofu. Tofu is something I would like to make but never knew how. I can’t wait to try it!

    Reply

  39. 39
    veil
    Posted On June 25, 2013 at 3:01 pm

    Nice texture and browning, but tofu needs to be salted. Yes, I know, there’s salt in the fish sauce. But if salt isn’t mixed into the sesame-seed/panko crust, the tofu itself will be bland. Really good recipe, technique-wise, though.

    Reply

  40. 40
    ang
    Posted On June 25, 2013 at 7:45 pm

    okay now something to intro my peeps to tofu. think the 10 yr old will love it. brandie from country cook sent me!!

    Reply

  41. 41
    Posted On June 26, 2013 at 1:51 pm

    Yummmmm so good! I love fried tofu =) Bt the way, if you ever want a vegetarian vietnamese nuoc cham, I have a version on my blog

    Reply

  42. 42
    Posted On July 1, 2013 at 8:19 pm

    Your photos are perfect! This dish looks so so delicious, I love it :)

    Reply

  43. 43
    Lady Michele
    Posted On July 5, 2013 at 10:07 pm

    Fixed this for dinner tonight! Was fantastic. This is the first time I have ever liked tofu! Thank you for this!

    Reply

  44. 44
    Lin
    Posted On July 6, 2013 at 4:57 pm

    We have baked tofu often and I look forward to trying this. Thank you so much for sharing.

    Reply

  45. 45
    Posted On August 1, 2013 at 7:32 pm

    I made this last night and it was fabulous! Like anything that is breaded and fried, it took some time and effort, but the pay-off was worth it. I’ve always been afraid I can’t cook tofu as well as the restaurants where I eat it regularly, but this shows the value of a good recipe. I probably won’t make it frequently (because I don’t make the effort to prepare breaded-and-fried anything frequently, but it’s nice to have for a special occasion. Many thanks for sharing.

    Reply

  46. 46
    Meredith
    Posted On August 20, 2013 at 5:31 pm

    This is the best recipe for tofu I’ve ever tried! Thank you so much! :)

    Reply

  47. 47
    Jennifer
    Posted On October 12, 2013 at 4:23 am

    Just made this, really lovely, thank you so much for sharing :)

    Reply

  48. 48
    Posted On November 7, 2013 at 8:18 pm

    I just made this for dinner – delicious! It was really easy and didn’t take terribly long. Thanks for posting. I may adapt this and post it on my blog (http://pistachiojar.wordpress.com/) but will credit the inspiration back to you!! Cheers :) 

    Reply

  49. 49
    Posted On January 9, 2014 at 7:42 pm

    Thank you for the recipe! We’ve made it twice now, its on the stove at the moment. We love it.

    Reply

  50. 50
    mix
    Posted On February 20, 2014 at 11:58 am

    This recipe is so easy and absolutely delicious! I love it!!!

    Reply

  51. 51
    Posted On February 25, 2014 at 3:04 pm

    Hi Lindsay,
    I had to write to compliment you on this recipe. This is in all seriousness one of the best things I’ve ever eaten! It is quite exceptional. Your recipes and blog never disappoint! Thanks for creating and sharing!

    Reply

  52. 52
    ellie
    Posted On June 18, 2014 at 5:39 pm

    I tried this out and it was so delicious :) thanks for the amazing recipe!

    Reply

  53. 53
    Carolyn
    Posted On September 6, 2014 at 8:31 pm

    Will the recipe work with baking instead of frying? 

    Reply

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