Crispy Mongolian Tofu

  • 1 block medium -firm tofu, frozen-and-thawed once or twice, OR extra firm, no freezing required
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 1/4 cup dark brown sugar (or light brown sugar)
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1/2 cup room temperature water
  • 1 teaspoon fresh ginger, finely minced
  • 4 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 1 scallion, segmented
  • 2 dried chilis, seeds removed & segmented
  • 1 tablespoon white sesame seeds, for garnish

Thickening Agent
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1 tablespoon water

Prepare the Tofu. For this recipe, we’re working with twice frozen-and-thawed tofu. As the name suggests, the tofu has been frozen, thawed, frozen again, and completely thawed again. Using a heavy object or a tofu press, press the tofu down for at least 15 minutes, pressing out as much liquid as possible. At the end of the pressing, the height of the tofu should have halved. Using your fingers, pull away chunks of the tofu (I tend to think about strips). You should get chunks that aren’t completely even and look naturally pulled. Carefully place the tofu pieces in a ziplock bag along with cornstarch. Shake the bag to evenly coat all the tofu pieces.

Fry the Tofu. In a wok/pan, heat up a generous amount of vegetable oil on medium-high heat (think about shallow-frying). Once the oil is hot, fry the tofu pieces until each side becomes golden-brown and crispy. Remove from the oil and drain on a kitchen towel to remove excess grease. Set aside.

Make the Sauce. Heat up a clean wok/pan on medium heat. Start the sauce by frying together the minced garlic, ginger, dried chilis, and brown sugar. Keep stirring and heating until the sugar is melted and caramelized, around 3-4 minutes. Deglaze the wok/pan with the soy sauce and water. The sugar is likely to harden and clump up, but just keep stirring until it dissolves again. Reduce this sauce for around 2 minutes and finish it with the thickening agent (cornstarch slurry). If the sauce wasn’t already boiling, bring it up to a light boil and it should thicken up nicely.

Finish the Dish. Remove the wok/pan from the heat and add the crispy tofu back into the sauce. Add the scallion segments as well. Stir to coat evenly. Finish with a sprinkle of white sesame seeds. Enjoy warm with rice.