Takeout Tofu

I have a confession to make. Although we eat a lot of delicious authentic Chinese food in our house, sometimes I crave the sweet, greasy American variety. I'm really picky about my American-Chinese food though and there are only a couple of places from which I'm willing to order, none of which are close enough to use for take-out. Instead I've made my own version. By making it myself, I can control the quality of ingredients and balance the ratios of sweet to savory. I use tofu, but the recipe would work for chicken too. The tofu is coated in corn starch to ensure maximum crispiness once pan fried in coconut oil. The corn starch also provides the distinctive syrup-like sauce used at western Chinese takeout restaurants. Maple syrup provides sweetness without being too overwhelming. The sauce can easily be adapted based on flavor preferences by changing the proportions of ingredients or by adding additional sources of flavors such as miso, peanut butter, or fish sauce.

Takeout Tofu
Serves 2

14 oz extra firm tofu, cubed
2 Tbsp corn starch
2 Tbsp coconut oil
3 Tbsp soy sauce
1 Tbsp sesame oil
2 Tbsp rice vinegar
1 Tbsp maple syrup
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 inch piece of ginger, minced
2 Tbsp sesame seeds

Toss the tofu with corn starch until evenly coated. Melt coconut oil in a large skillet or wok over medium high heat until it bubbles slightly at the edges. Slowly add in the tofu. Fry until golden brown on all sides.

Meanwhile stir together soy sauce, sesame oil, rice vinegar, and maple syrup in a small bowl.

Remove the tofu from the oil with a slotted spoon. Add the ginger and garlic to the pan. Cook until fragrant (one to two minutes). Pour in the liquid from the bowl. Scape any tofu or corn starch bits remaining from the bottom of the pan and stir vigorously. The sauce will begin to bubble and thicken quickly*. Once thickened, add in the tofu and sesame seeds. Stir to combine, then serve immediately.

*If the sauce does not begin to thicken, stir in an additional 1/4 teaspoon of corn starch.

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