Sesame Chilli Tofu

sesame chilli tofu plantbased pantry

Let’s start with full disclosure – this is not my photo. I have humbly borrowed it from a lovely blog called Table For Two whose photos kick my photos’ butts. I would have put the pic of my dish side by side with this, but sometimes it’s better to admit defeat. When you have a dish that is complex, tasty, sticky and all the good things, it really doesn’t help your case when the final product looks like it was made in the dark during load shedding – which it was!

Photo failures aside, this was very quick and easy to make and really delivered on texture. For those of you who don’t love the texture of straight up tofu but you can’t be bothered to double-dip and coat for extra crispiness, this recipe is for you. Here are a few quick tips for getting that tofu texture that doesn’t give you old school polony vibes…South Africans know what I’m talking about.

  • Drain excess moisture by putting the block of tofu in between two heavy plates (or pot lids) with paper towels on either side to absorb the water. Let it sit for half an hour, changing the paper towels once halfway through. Draining it like this allows the tofu to easily crisp up when frying and prevents awkward crumbling.
  • Coat the drained tofu cubes in cornstarch. There’s no technique required here – simply put the cubes into a bowl, sprinkle cornstarch over them and shake until they’re coated on all sides.
  • When you fry the cubes, you’ll find that they stick together quite easily. This is actually a bonus, as you can use a spatula to turn over multiple cubes at once, which is far less hassle that turning them individually.


Sesame Chilli Tofu


  • 350g extra firm tofu
  • 2 tbsp cornstarch
  • Olive oil for frying
  • 1/2 cup soya sauce
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2-3 tbsp coconut sugar, adjust to taste (can also use brown sugar)
  • 1.5 tbsp chilli garlic sauce
  • 2-3 tsp rice vinegar
  • 3 tsp sesame seeds
  • 2 heaped tsp cornstarch
  • Extra chilli if required


  1. Drain the tofu as described above. Slice into cubes and coat in cornstarch by placing cubes in a bowl, sprinkling cornstarch over and shaking until coated on all sides.
  2. Heat the olive oil in a large pan over low heat – this is important, as if your heat is turned up too high in the beginning, the tofu will stick. You can use a tsp of vegan margarine along with the olive oil to help with potential sticking. Once the cubes are starting to crisp and feel loose when you shake the pan, you can turn the heat up half a notch.
  3. Continue to cook the tofu, turning regularly so that all sides make contact with the pan – or you can be lazy like I was and just crisp two sides!
  4. In the meantime, make the sauce by combining all other ingredients. The final flavour will depend on your taste preference – add more chill for heat, more sugar for extra sweetness or more vinegar to combat excess saltiness.
  5. In a separate pan or pot, make your side as desired – we had the tofu with stir-friend vegetables. Noodles will also work well.
  6. When the tofu is golden and crisp, pour over the sauce and stir for 30 seconds before removing from heat.
  7. Serve piping hot.


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