Sticky Lemon Tofu
Devour this lip-smacking Sticky Lemon Tofu for your vegan lunch or dinner! The crispy fried chewy tofu cubes coated with the sticky umami-flavored sauce is utterly tempting. The garnish adds a refreshing kick and nutty delight to this quick dish.
You can relish this sticky lemon tofu along with a bowl of noodles or steamed fluffy rice. They also taste incredible when served on a bed of green leafy salad.
Sticky lemon tofu is a delicious Asian-inspired dish that is jam-packed with flavor. Made from simple ingredients, it uses extra-firm tofu that is marinated and fried.
The tofu is finished off with a sticky glazed lemon sauce, which adds a fantastic flavor to the dish. It is vegan, healthy-ish, and a delicious meal that you can make in just 30 minutes!
What is tofu?
Tofu might seem like a block of cheese, but it is a magical versatile food that can be use in any dish. Tofu, also known as bean curd, is made from condensed soy milk. And interesting enough, It is a product of a process that is quite similar to cheesemaking. It is also amazingly plant-based.
Tofu has been used by people in China since ancient times. It is famous for its several health benefits. It comes in several types and textures, from soft silken tofu to extra firm. Tofu has a prominent place in the vegan lifestyle and is high in protein.
Different ways of cooking tofu
When making tofu with lemon juice, you want the tofu to have a crispy exterior and a golden color. To achieve the perfect texture, you have multiple ways of frying the tofu. They are:
- Frying in oil: You can deep fry or shallow fry the tofu in oil. Although this way of cooking the tofu, gets even an color and cooks the tofu quickly, the main problem is with the amount of oil that is used. For someone who wants to limit the fat content in the dish, deep frying or shallow frying isn't a suitable option.
- Pan-frying: A little oil can also work well in frying tofu to get an even color. By using a small amount of oil, you have to keep an eye on the tofu and turn it at regular intervals. However, the results are pretty satisfying.
- Air frying: For those who want to eliminate oil completely, air frying is the perfect option. This kitchen appliance works wonders and results in perfectly even crispy and golden tofu pieces. Plus, it doesn't use oil, so it's a win-win situation for health enthusiasts.
- Baking: Lastly, you can also bake the tofu in a conventional oven. For this, you will have to place the pieces on a parchment-lined baking tray, spray a dash of cooking oil, and place the baking tray in a preheated oven at 400-degree F for about 15 minutes. Flip the pieces halfway for perfect results.
Here is a detailed breakdown of everything you need for this delicious sticky tofu recipe:
- Tofu: The main ingredient of this recipe is tofu. I have used firm tofu; however, you can also use extra firm tofu and press it to get rid of excess water. Cut the tofu into cubes.
- Soy sauce: Soy sauce is known for its umami flavor. It is the perfect balance of sweet, salty, and savory flavors with a little bit of bitterness. You can use either light or dark soy sauce.
- Cornstarch: You will need cornstarch to fry the tofu. It will give the tofu the crunchiness and crispiness that we are looking for in this recipe.
- Onion powder: Onion powder has a deep savory flavor that adds depth to the tofu.
- Garlic powder: Garlic powder also brings in a garlicky savory flavor.
- Seasonings: Plain Salt and freshly ground black pepper are perfect seasonings for any recipe. However, if you like heat, you can add cayenne or paprika as well.
- Avocado oil: To make the sauce, you will need oil to sauté the ingredients. Although you can use any cooking oil, I prefer avocado oil or olive oil for this purpose. Both are known for their benefits and avocado oil has a high smoke point.
- Ginger: Freshly minced ginger brings in a depth of flavor. It has a unique peppery, slightly sweet taste.
- Garlic: Ginger and garlic usually go side by side in any dish, and so is the case with sticky lemon tofu. Minced garlic brings in a kick of garlicky flavor we all love.
- Vegetable broth: Vegetable broth sets the base for the sticky sauce. If you don't have vegetable stock, you can also add vegetable bullions dissolved in water. They will also add flavor to the dish.
- Agave nectar: Agave nectar is vegan honey. It has a very sweet flavor and is a perfect ingredient to balance the dish with sweetness. If you don't have agave nectar, you can also use another liquid sweetener or coconut sugar and/or organic cane sugar.
- Lemon juice: Freshly squeezed lemon juice brings in freshness and tanginess to the dish.
- Lemon zest: Lemon zest also adds lemony flavor to the dish.
How to make glazed lemon tofu?
Making glazed lemon tofu is super easy. The process takes no more than 30 minutes. Here are detailed instructions on how to cook this delicious lemony dish:
Step 1: Start by draining and pressing tofu to get rid of excess water. Next, you have to cut the tofu into cubes and transfer it to a bowl.
Step 2: Pour soy sauce and mix well so that the tofu soaks up the soy sauce flavor.
Step 3: Next, add cornstarch, onion powder, garlic powder, salt, and black pepper. Toss so that all the ingredients are well combined, and the tofu gets an even coat of the ingredients.
Step 4: In a frying pan or skillet, heat avocado oil and add tofu pieces one by one.
Step 5: Let them cook for about 2 minutes to get a nice golden color on each side. Make sure to fry them from all sides. Once they are done, remove them from the skillet and place them on a plate.
Step 6: In the same skillet, add more avocado oil, and let it heat up at medium heat.
Step 7: Add minced garlic and ginger, and sauté for a minute or two until they are fragrant.
Step 8: Pour in vegetable broth, soy sauce, lemon juice, and agave nectar.
Step 9: Mix well and bring the mixture to a boil. Meanwhile, mix a tablespoon of water with cornstarch in a bowl and pour it into the mixture.
Step 10: Reduce the heat and let it simmer for about 2 to 3 minutes. Make sure you stir constantly.
Step 11: Add lemon zest and continue to stir until the mixture starts to thicken up. It should be sticky.
Step 12: Add the fried tofu and mix well so that the sticky sauce coats the tofu.
Step 13: Turn off the heat and place the tofu on a plate. Garnish with toasted sesame seeds and chopped spring onions. Enjoy!
Although sticky lemon tofu tastes delicious, it is not the only way you can enjoy the tart, citrusy flavor and sticky texture of the dish. If you are looking for something else to add to it other than lemon, you are in luck. You can always use orange juice!
Orange juice is also a citrus fruit that has a tart and sweet flavor. So, you will get the acidity and the sweetness to balance the flavors, and the stickiness will stay too. So, you can make sticky orange tofu instead of lemon and enjoy!
Furthermore, to make it a complete meal, you can also add vegetables to the dish. You can use onions, carrots, or bell peppers. It will bring in more texture and components to the dish and make it more vibrant and tasteful. And don't forget to pair it with some rice!
You can also try these yummy Tofu dishes:
How to store sticky lemon tofu?
If you are having leftover sticky lemon tofu, no problem at all! You can place it in an airtight container and store it in the refrigerator. It will last for up to 2 to 3 days. Before you store the dish, make sure it is completely cool.
Furthermore, you can also prepare the tofu in advance and store it in the refrigerator. It will last for up to 5 days in the refrigerator. So that, whenever you feel like eating the dish you can make it quickly.
What to serve with glazed lemon tofu?
Even though glazed lemon tofu is delicious with or without any sides, you can serve it with several dishes to make it a complete meal. Here are a few ideas on what to serve with this Asian-style lemony dish:
- Rice: Whether it is plain white rice or brown rice, garlic rice or coconut rice, you can serve sticky lemon tofu with any rice dish. It is a perfect combination.
- Vegetables: Sauteed vegetables go well with almost anything. You can also roast them along with herbs and garlic to get more flavors. Vegetables like potatoes, bell peppers, zucchini, broccoli, and asparagus go so well with glazed lemon tofu as well. They add different textures to the dish.
- Noodles: Noodles are almost a must when preparing Asian cuisine. So, you can serve it with glazed lemon tofu to enjoy the texture.
Sticky Lemon Tofu
- 14 oz extra firm tofu pressed & cut into cubes
- 2 tbsp soy sauce divided
- 5 tbsp cornstarch divided
- 2 tsp onion powder
- 2 tsp garlic powder
- Salt & ground black pepper as per taste
- 2½ tbsp avocado oil
- 1 tsp ginger minced
- 2 tsp garlic minced
- ¼ cup vegetable broth
- ¼ cup agave nectar
- 1/4 cup lemon juice freshly squeezed
- 1 teaspoon lemon zest
- For serving
- Spring onion sliced thinly
- Toasted sesame seeds
- Firstly, drain and press tofu. Cut tofu into cubes. Transfer the tofu cubes into a large bowl. Drizzle with a tablespoon of soy sauce and toss well.
- Sprinkle 4 tablespoons of cornstarch, onion powder, garlic powder, and a pinch of salt & pepper. Toss again to coat all the tofu pieces nicely.
- Now, heat 2 tablespoons of avocado oil in a large skillet over a medium-high flame.
- Place the tofu cubes into the hot oil gently. Fry for a few minutes while flipping them with tongs till they are crisp and golden. Remove them into a dish.
- Drizzle the remaining ½ tablespoon of avocado oil into the same skillet and let it heat for a few seconds on a medium-high flame.
- Add in the minced ginger & garlic. Stir fry for a minute or until fragrant.
- Next, add in the vegetable broth, a tablespoon of soy sauce, agave nectar, & lemon juice. Mix well for a minute and let the sauce come to a simmer.
- Once simmering, reduce heat to medium-low. In a small bowl, whisk a tablespoon of cornstarch with a tablespoon of water and add it to the sauce. Mix well until combined.
- Reduce heat to low and let the sauce simmer for 1-2 minutes while stirring frequently. Also, add the lemon zest and continue stirring until the sauce reaches a thick sticky consistency.
- Lastly, add the fried tofu cubes, coat with the sauce, and transfer them to a serving dish.
- Serve the “Sticky Lemon Tofu” topped with spring onions & toasted sesame seeds!
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We’re trying to follow a more plant forward diet these days and I tried this recipe last night. It was SO GOOD! Crispy and flavorful and perfect with some rice and sauteed green beans. Neither one of us missed the meat. This will be in the regular rotation.
When you said it had umami, you weren’t kidding! I made this sticky lemon tofu for our meatless Monday lunch and the entire family thought I was lying about it being plant based. Definitely making this again and again.
I am always looking for new ways to make tofu and I can’t say how happy I am I came across this recipe! This tofu recipe is definitely going to be in rotation in our home.
I added this tofu to some vegetable fried quinoa that I had made and it was amazing!
Absolutely love your recipe for tofu!! It was the perfect weeknight meal!!
I love the lemon flavor and crunch of this sticky tofu! My family gobbled it up!
Thank you for this delicious recipe! Believe it or not, I have a three-nager who loves meatless meals and has recently developed a taste for tofu. My whole family loved this recipe!
This lemon tofu was such a hit in our house! Thanks for including all the tips and information to help make it perfect!
Absolutely delicious–we enjoyed for our meatless Monday dinner. The lemon sauce is so refreshing I want to put it on everything now!