Why It Works
- Purchasing the correct kind of tofu—non-silken, extra firm—sets you up for crispy tofu success.
- Drying the tofu thoroughly ensures that it crisps up quickly.
- Using a batter for the tofu ensures that it stays crispy even after getting tossed in sauce.
- Cooking each component of the stir fry in stages and combining them at the end facilitates even cooking and browning.
A quick and easy stir-fry with crisp tofu and broccoli tossed in a sweet and savory sauce with garlic, ginger, and sesame seeds.
- 1 1/2 quarts vegetable or peanut oil
- 1/2 cup plus 2 teaspoons cornstarch, divided
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- Kosher salt
- 1/2 cup cold water
- 1/2 cup vodka
- 1 pound extra-firm tofu, cut into 1/2- by 2- by 1-inch slabs, carefully dried (see note)
- 1 pound broccoli, cut into 1-inch florets
- 1/4 cup Xiaoshing wine or dry sherry
- 1/4 cup homemade or store-bought low-sodium vegetable stock
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon fermented black bean sauce
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
- 2 (1-inch) segments lemon peel, plus 2 teaspoons lemon juice
- 4 cloves garlic, minced (about 4 teaspoons)
- 1 tablespoon minced or grated fresh ginger
- 6 scallions, white and light green parts only, finely chopped
- 2 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds, divided
Heat oil in a wok to 350°F. Whisk together 1/2 cup cornstarch, flour, baking powder, and 1 teaspoon kosher salt. Add water and vodka and whisk until a smooth batter is formed, adding up to 2 tablespoons additional water if batter is too thick. It should have the consistency of thin paint and fall off of the whisk in thin ribbons that instantly disappear as they hit the surface of the batter in the bowl.
Add tofu slices and carefully turn to coat. Working one at a time, lift one piece and allow excess batter to drip off. Carefully lower into hot oil. Repeat with remaining tofu until wok is full. Fry, using a metal spider or slotted spatula to rotate and agitate pieces as they cook until evenly pale golden and crisp all over, about 6 minutes. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate. Repeat until all tofu is fried. Carefully pour all but 1 tablespoon oil out of wok and reserve for another use.
Combine wine, stock, soy sauce, bean sauce, sugar, sesame oil, lemon peel and juice, and remaining 2 teaspoons corn starch in a small bowl and whisk to combine. Set aside.
Return wok to high heat until lightly smoking. Add broccoli and cook, stirring and tossing frequently, until lightly charred on several sides but still firm. Add garlic, ginger, and scallions and cook, tossing constantly, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Transfer broccoli and aromatics to a bowl.
Return skillet to high heat. Give the sauce mixture a quick whisk, then pour it into the wok. Cook, stirring, until thick and glossy, about 30 seconds. Return broccoli and tofu to pan. Add 1 tablespoon sesame seeds. Remove from heat. Turn with a wide spatula until all pieces are evenly coated. Season to taste with more salt as desired. Transfer to a serving platter, sprinkle with remaining sesame seeds, and serve immediately.
To dry tofu, line a rimmed baking sheet with paper towels. Place tofu slices on top in a single layer. Cover with another layer of paper towels and press gently to remove excess moisture.