Love and Olive Oil

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

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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


  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.

All images and text © / Love & Olive Oil

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  1. Can this be made without egg and baked in the oven?

    • The egg is what helps the breading adhere to the tofu; without it it’s really not going to stick to the tofu. I haven’t personally tried baking it. Seems like it should work in theory, just might not get as golden/crispy.

  2. Well, these were delicious- in spite of making a fairly big mess. I served with garlic – soy green beans and forbidden rice to make sure I made an even bigger mess. That said, a big hit with my husband. He wants them again. Can anyone suggest a substitute for the egg wash? Trying to lean vegan.

  3. Very crunchy. Added salt to the panko mixture, but ended up using twice as much of the mixture for coating. everything else was spot on and the dipping sauce was so good!

  4. My boyfriend used to scoff when I’d tell him I planned on cooking tofu for dinner. But I’ve finally converted him! He actually sent me this recipe the other day along with some others askin which I’d prefer he made. Since this has already been on my list since you first posted it it was an easy decision and it did not disappoint!  Loved the crispy-ness provided by the seeds! 

  5. I made the tofu portion of this recipe tonight for dinner and it was amazing!  I served it with broccoli and some potatoes I diced up and fried in a bit of oil. Instead of sesame seeds I used onion powder, garlic powder and dried basil tossed with the Panko.  My husband is a vegan so I used egg replacer instead of a regular egg.  The breading stuck to the tofu and stayed on during frying.  Great recipe that I will definitely make again.

  6. I made this tonight and it was absolutely amazing. Easy to follow and looked almost as good! Tasted fantastic!

  7. Would love to try this.  Your photos and presentation are beautiful :)

  8. I just made this and it was GREAT! The crispy crust with the bright, flavorful sauce is perfect. Thanks for sharing.

  9. Will the recipe work with baking instead of frying? 

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

  11. 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!

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