Crispy Tofu With Sweet-and-Sour Sauce
Inspired by McDonald’s Chicken McNuggets dipped in sweet-and-sour sauce — a classic combination that debuted nationwide in 1983 — this tofu appetizer gets its inexorable crunch from potato starch. Pan-fried until shatteringly crisp, pressed tofu, cut into cute little rectangles, eats a lot like Chicken McNuggets and cooks up gorgeously every time. But the true joy of a nugget lies in the dipping, and this recipe stars a totally chill, no-cook sweet-and-sour sauce. Apricot preserves provide fruity sweetness as well as body, and rice vinegar, soy sauce and onion powder add savoriness.
- Serves: 4 persons
- 1(14-ounce) package firm tofu, drained
- 3medium zucchini (about 1 pound)
- 3teaspoons kosher salt, plus more to taste
- ½cup apricot preserves
- 2tablespoons rice vinegar
- 2tablespoons soy sauce
- ½teaspoon red-pepper flakes
- 1 ½teaspoons onion powder
- ½cup potato starch
- Neutral oil, such as vegetable or canola oil, or light olive oil
Step 1Press the tofu: Wrap the block of tofu in a clean tea towel, and place on a cutting board. Weigh down the tofu with a sheet pan topped with something heavy, such as a large skillet, cans or books, until the tea towel is soaked, about 30 minutes.
Step 2While the tofu is pressed, prep the zucchini: Halve the zucchini crosswise, then cut each piece lengthwise into 1/4-inch-thick planks. Finally, cut each plank lengthwise into 1/4-inch-thick “fries.” Place the zucchini fries in a large colander set over a medium bowl. Add 1 teaspoon salt, and toss until evenly coated. Set aside to drain.
Step 3Meanwhile, make the sauce: In a measuring cup, stir together the apricot preserves, rice vinegar, soy sauce, red-pepper flakes, 1 teaspoon onion powder and 2 teaspoons water until smooth. Transfer to a small dish for dipping, and set aside.
Step 4Slice the pressed tofu in half horizontally, and cut each of those halves into 8 rectangular pieces, creating 16 nuggets total. Directly on the cutting board, season the tofu with 1 teaspoon salt and the remaining 1/2 teaspoon onion powder, smearing each piece around to catch all the seasonings.
Step 5In a large bowl, toss to combine the potato starch and the remaining 1 teaspoon salt. Place the tofu in the starch, and gently toss with your hands until each piece is evenly coated.
Step 6Fry the tofu: Heat a large skillet over medium-high, and add a thin layer of oil, enough to coat the bottom of the pan. Add the tofu in a single layer, and cook, flipping a couple of times, until lightly golden on both sides, about 10 minutes total. Transfer the cooked tofu to a towel-lined plate to drain, and season it with salt to taste.
Step 7To serve, transfer the tofu and zucchini to a large platter, and serve alongside the dipping sauce.