Pan-fried Sesame Garlic Tofu

Tofu. You love it or hate it. It’s your kryptonite. Your weekend friend. Your arch nemesis.

At best, I have struck an uneasy allegiance with Tofu – but it might be a case of “getting to know you better…” Give it time.

This inning, for whatever reason, the combination of condiments and grilled additions (asparagus) lead a siren song that had me quickly hooked.


  • Refrigerated 14 oz Tofu, extra firm


  • 1 tsp Garlic paste
  • 2 tsp Honey
  • 1/4 cup Soy sauce, low-sodium

Baking & Spices

  • 3 tbsp Cornstarch

Oils & Vinegars

  • 1/2 tsp Rice wine vinegar
  • 1/2 tbsp Sesame oil
  • 1 tbsp Vegetable oil


  • 1/4 cup Water


  • 1 1/2 teaspoons sambal oelek
  • There are legion other options for dressings, applications, sprinkles and salves for this dish – I mean really. Hot sauces… just getting started. We noted that perhaps touch more honey might have been in order to sweeten this bad girl. 2 TSP of honey was very light – and just barely achieved a balance with the other savouries. You be the judge. This is your dish,


Place two paper towels on a plate then place the entire block of tofu (drained from its packaging liquid) onto the plate.
Place two more paper towels on top of the tofu then put a heavy item on top. Not TOO heavy that it would completely crush the tofu but heavy enough that it can squeeze out liquid.

Tools: I like using a cast iron skillet…. but a good non-stick is fine.

The Tofu press: Leave for 30 minutes and halfway through, change out the paper towels.

ALTERNATIVELY and more eco-friendly: place a wire baking rack on top of a rimmed baking sheet. Place tofu on top and then put a heavy object on top and let drain for 30 minutes.
Once the tofu has drained, slice in half then into cubes and place into a large bowl. Sprinkle cornstarch on top and gently toss with your hands to ensure all tofu pieces are covered.

In your large skillet, add sesame oil and vegetable oil then bring up to medium-high heat.

Once oil is heated up, add the tofu to the skillet and let brown on all sides.
In the meantime, whisk together the ingredients for the sauce.

Once the tofu has browned and crisped up on all sides, add the sauce to the skillet and it should start to thicken immediately. Toss the tofu around to coat then remove from heat.

Serve on Jasmine rice – garnish with raw scallions, toasted sesame or pan seared asparagus – the sky is the limit on toppings so sit back and enjoy!

Colin Newell is a Victoria area resident, long time writer on the subject of cafe culture and trends in food. His musing on the subject of good eating have decorated the internet since 1995.