This Sticky Orange Tofu tastes as deliciously decadent as Chinese takeout, but it's more flavorful and far healthier since it's both oil-free and sweetened with oranges. Pair with brown rice and steamed broccoli for the perfect Asian-style comfort dish.
Place the tofu (still it's packaging) in the freezer and freeze overnight (or up to 6 months). On the morning you will prepare the tofu, place in the refrigerator to defrost. When the tofu is defrosted, drain the water and press for at least 15 minutes to remove excess water.
To Prepare the Tofu
If not using super-firm tofu or if your brand of tofu has a lot of excess water, you can press the tofu by wrapping the blocks in a clean kitchen towel, placing on a plate, and stacking something heavy on top of it for 15 to 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 425°F or 220°C. (For air fryer instructions, see notes.)
In a large bowl, mix all of the ingredients listed under "For the Tofu" except the tofu to make a paste. This paste should be thick enough to stick to the tofu but not so thick that it doesn’t coat evenly. (Slightly thinner than a pesto.)
Using your thumb, break off nugget-sized chunks of tofu directly over the bowl with the paste. The chunks should be similar in size but don't need to be uniform in shape. Having lots of nooks and crannies will help the paste adhere to the tofu.
Gently fold the tofu into the paste (careful not to break the chunks up or create crumbles) until all of the tofu is evenly coated.
Use tongs or a slotted spoon to place on a lined cooking sheet (avoid getting excess liquid on the baking sheet, as this will cause the chunks to stick.)
Place the baking sheet in the oven, and bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until the tofu is crispy and nicely browned.
While the tofu is in the oven prepare the rice, steamed veggies, and sauce.
To Prepare the Sauce
If using fresh orange juice (which I definitely recommend over store-bought, if possible), start by squeezing the orange juice. You can use a citrus press if you have one. I just cut the orange in half and use my hands to squeeze the juice into a measuring cup. Be sure to remove any seeds before adding to the skillet.
Alternatively, if you want to use the whole fruit and keep the fiber intact, peel two oranges, remove the seeds, and blend in a high-speed blender until smooth. It might be a bit frothy, but the frothiness will diminish during the cooking process.
Add the orange juice or blended oranges to a large skillet, along with ¼ cup water, agave syrup (or other sweetener), soy sauce, and vinegar. Place the skillet over medium heat and bring to a simmer.
As the sauce is coming to a simmer, use a microplane (or cheese grater) to grate about 2 tbsp of orange zest and 3 cloves of garlic into the sauce.
After the sauce begins to reduce, place the cornstarch into a small bowl. Add a few spoonfuls of the sauce to the cornstarch and stir to create a "slurry." Once the slurry is combined and smooth, add back to the sauce and stir with a wooden spoon to combine.
Continue to simmer and stir until the sauce is thickened. Add the baked tofu chunks to the sauce and genlty combine until each tofu chunk is coated.
Serve immediately over rice with a side of veggies. Garnish with cilantro, green onions, sesame seeds, and Sriracha. Enjoy!
Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
Baking times for the tofu might vary slightly depending on how firm your tofu is.
If using firm or medium-firm tofu, you will need to press the tofu to remove excess water. Wrap the tofu in a towel, set on a plate, and place something heavy on top. (A large pot filled with water, a cast-iron skillet, or a stack of heavy plates will work.)
You can use whatever rice you like or have on hand. If using regular dried rice (that is, not parboiled or minute rice), be sure to rinse the rice in a fine-mesh strainer before cooking. While the rice is cooking, don't stir it. These two tips will help you cook rice that is light and fluffy.
If you're following a WFPB diet, your best bet is to blend the oranges and use date syrup or date paste. Alternatively, you could add three dried pitted dates to the blender when you blend the orange juice.
If you find ginger to be an overpowering flavor, start off with ½ tbsp of ginger and taste the sauce. If you want more ginger flavor, add another ½ tbsp.
Want to use an Air Fryer? Just follow the instructions for prepping the tofu as above. Instead of baking in the oven, cook the tofu in the air fryer for 12 to 15 minutes on 400F (200C). For more detailed instructions, check out this post for air fryer tofu.