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Sesame Apricot Tofu

23 reviews / 4.5 average

Torn-up tofu pan-fried into crispiness and made saucy, sticky, and sweet into this Sesame Apricot Tofu. An easy, simple vegetarian dinner that’s deliciously saving my life!

This is a brand new recipe that’s part of our Fall 2022 SOS Series! View the full series.


Prepare your mind today, because torn-up tofu is getting pan-fried into crispiness and made saucy, sticky, and sweet into this sesame apricot tofu that almost kind of resembles fried Asian-takeout-style chicken. There’s a kick of fresh garlic and a bunch of freshly ground black pepper over the top, some chives, cilantro, or whatever greens you like in there along with all of it, and that’s the show. That’s how you do it. And it is deliciously saving my life right now.

If you’re already a tofu lover – treat yourself! If you’re just curious – this is a great gateway recipe. It’s such a fun way to prep and cook tofu (TEARING APART WITH YOUR HANDS), the sauce is super simple / shortcut, and the end result is just kind of crispy, sticky, and magical.

These golden little tofu chunks are most popular in our house when served with rice and a side of steamed green beans, but it’s also amazing thrown into a big batch of fried rice (more on that in a second).


In This Post: Everything You Need For This Delicious Tofu


Watch How To Make Sesame Apricot Tofu

Why Tofu Chunking Is The Best

Torn tofu in a bowl covered in cornstarch.

This might be the most fun you’ve ever had with tofu because it involves – wait for it – PULLING A BLOCK OF TOFU APART WITH YOUR HANDS!

I’ve always been a tofu cuber – standard method with the cut horizontally, then the cuts lengthwise, then the cuts into cubes (as shown here) but recently I saw a video about “chunking” tofu aka pulling it into chunks that have more of a rough edge, and after trying it I can confirm: I love this for tofu and I love this for us.

Tofu chunking is my new way with tofu! It looks fun, it is fun to do, and with a light coating of cornstarch, the tofu cooks up nice and crispy and textured, almost like the shape and feel of little crispy chicken pieces just waiting to be coated in sticky-sweet, garlicky, finger-licking sauce.

I also love this method because it’s not precious at all. Tofu breakage (which is inevitably going to happen a bit anytime you’re dealing with finnicky tofu) is not a problem with this method. We don’t need to be overly delicate here because we’re not trying to preserve some perfect tofu shape – cube or otherwise. The shape of tofu chunks is meant to be a little more rugged and un-perfect!

Here’s how to do it:

I start by cutting the tofu block in half lengthwise and pressing it under a heavy book for a few minutes to remove extra water.

Then you literally take the piece of tofu and start to just pull chunks off with your hands. I’d recommend going for small-ish bite-sized pieces because if the chunks get too big, they look cool but they can’t absorb as much flavor.

In terms of the shape, guess what? You just make it how you want. Square-ish, or long and skinny, however your hands guide you!

What Type Of Tofu To Use

The two types of tofu I would recommend in this recipe are:

  • Extra Firm
  • Extra Firm High Protein

Some stores now carry a variety of tofu called “high protein” or something similar – and I find the texture to be more dense, less springy, and less watery.

In the case of this recipe, that actually works really well. The high protein tofu cooks up and gets crispy faster than the other varieties, I’m assuming because there’s less water present so it’s able to dry out and crisp faster.

If you can’t find a high protein variety, extra-firm or even just firm will work fine! I have made it that way many times as well. Just make sure you a) press a lot of the water out, and b) give it plenty of time to cook in the pan so that it gets crisped on the outside.

Sesame Apricot Sauce

Apricot sauce ingredients in a measuring cup.

This is where the SOS-ness of this recipe really shines.

Here’s what we’ve got:

  • apricot jam
  • soy sauce
  • rice vinegar
  • some spices (cumin, paprika, onion powder)
  • garlic
  • plenty of freshly ground black pepper

Shake that up in a jar and you’re ready to go.

And for the sesame flavor, you can either add a bit of toasted sesame oil to the sauce itself of just drizzle it over the finished product (my preferred method) to give it even more depth of flavor.

Other Ways To Use This Tofu

This sauce is kind of a mish-mash of flavors which makes it ideal for the tofu to land easily in multiple styles of recipes.

I like it in Asian-style dishes – in this recipe as written, it coats the tofu and makes it almost reminiscent of an orange tofu or sesame tofu recipe, just served with rice and greens!

It’s also AMAZING in fried rice, especially if you’re using the tofu the next day when it’s had a chance to sit and absorb all the flavors.

But it’s not just for Asian recipes (and it’s not a distinctly Asian flavor profile, anyway) which makes it also great for throwing on top of warm or cold salads, or better yet, a grain bowl! Just think: this saucy tofu plus roasted veggies, some pickled veggies, brown rice or quinoa, maybe a fried egg and some spicy sprinkle over the top? You’re in happy lunch business.

Sesame apricot tofu in a bowl with rice and green beans.

Sesame Apricot Tofu: Frequently Asked Questions

Could I use meat instead of tofu?

Sure can! Chicken would be a great option here. Cube your chicken and then follow the directions as listed until the chicken is cooked through.

If I can’t get apricot reserves, would other jams/preserves work in this recipe?

Yes! Orange and peach come to mind as other flavor options that would work well in this.

What is high protein tofu?

High protein tofu is typically “super firm” and is much denser than typical tofu – often, you don’t even need to press any water out. Your typical extra firm tofu will work great here, just a little protein and texture boost if you can find the high-protein stuff!

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A picture of Sesame Apricot Tofu

Sesame Apricot Tofu


  • Author: Lindsay
  • Total Time: 40 minutes
  • Yield: 34 servings 1x

Description

Torn-up tofu pan-fried into crispiness and made saucy, sticky, and sweet into this Sesame Apricot Tofu. An easy, simple vegetarian dinner that’s deliciously saving my life!


Ingredients

Units Scale

Crispy Tofu:

  • 1 block of extra firm tofu (high protein tofu works really well in this recipe, if you can find it!)
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

Apricot Sauce:

  • 1/3 cup apricot preserves
  • 1 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 12 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon each cumin, paprika, and onion powder
  • 12 cloves garlic, grated (2 for more garlic flavor, obviously)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt (more to taste)

Extras for Serving:

  • toasted sesame oil to taste (I like about 1-2 tablespoons)
  • chives and/or cilantro for topping
  • steamed green beans
  • cooked rice

Instructions

  1. Cut the tofu block in half horizontally (like a hamburger). If using extra firm high protein tofu, it helps to cut it in half again horizontally. Press the water out of the tofu by wrapping it in paper towels and setting a few heavy books on top of it. Let it stay like that for a few minutes while you prep the sauce.
  2. Whisk the sauce ingredients together. 
  3. Take each piece of tofu and gently pull it into small chunks with your hands (this just gives the tofu pieces a unique shape and texture that holds onto the sauce really well). Place the chunks in a bowl. Toss with soy sauce and a teaspoon or two of olive oil; then sprinkle with cornstarch and give it a few gentle tosses to coat.
  4. In a nonstick skillet over medium high heat, heat the olive oil and then add the cornstarched tofu. Leave it undisturbed for a few minutes on each side, letting it get really nice and brown and crispy – this can take 10-15 minutes. Flip and repeat until the whole batch is browned and crispy.
  5. While it’s browning, you can start up your rice and/or sides! 
  6. Finally, add the sauce to the tofu and remove from heat – the pan will still be hot, so it’ll be sizzly and smell really good from the garlic. The sauce will coat the tofu right away. *heart eyes*
  7. Top with the green onions and/or cilantro, sesame seeds, and sesame oil. Serve with rice and green beans, and finish with more salt and lots of black pepper to taste. The tender crunch of the beans with the steamy rice and sticky tofu! SO good.
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 30 minutes
  • Category: Dinner
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: Asian-Inspired

Keywords: tofu recipe, dinner recipe, sesame stir-fry, vegetarian stir-fry, vegan recipe

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41 Comments

  1. Pinch of Yum Logo

    Oh, yes. This sounds really good. I need to get some apricot preserves! It looks vegan (or plant-based if you prefer) not vegetarian. Am I wrong?

    One tip that I learned the hard way, don’t be tempted to add too much cornstarch! Your tofu will go from crispy to a very weird texture that’s not good – at all.

  2. Pinch of Yum Logo
    Laurel

    This is my new favourite tofu recipe! I steamed some carrots with the beans and I added some bell pepper to the pan with the tofu. So good!! Thanks for sharing 🙂

    1. Pinch of Yum Logo
      Leah

      This was super delicious!!! Tearing my tofu is the only way to go. I used a fig preserve that I had and added some coconut aminos liquid for a smokier taste.






  3. Pinch of Yum Logo
    Sandra

    I made this today for lunch. It was my first time cooking with tofu so I knew it wasn’t going to be perfect but it was pretty good and I learned what to adjust for next time! Next time I’ll tear the bigger chunks even smaller so they crisp up more because the smaller crispy pieces had a nice chewy texture. The sauce was really good and would work with chicken., I had mines with leftover white rice and a side of sugar snap peas.






  4. Pinch of Yum Logo
    Carly

    Made this last night for dinner! Hubs brought home orange marmalade instead of apricot preserves and dare I say it, it was very reminiscent of Trader Joe’s orange chicken. Tearing the tofu created a nice texture and came together super easily. Will definitely make again, maybe with more preserves and more vinegar and a touch less cumin.






  5. Pinch of Yum Logo
    Shauna

    I made this with roasted cauliflower and beans + a wild rice blend, and daaaang, all I can think of is making it again! I had it 3 days in a row, and am not even close to tiring of it.

  6. Pinch of Yum Logo
    Joanne

    Soooo yuuumy!
    Definitively one of our favorite !
    We have been eating tofu since many years, never taste tofu like this !

  7. Pinch of Yum Logo
    Alicia

    This was soooooo incredibly good. I made the recipe as written. The only thing I would say is- if you have a family of four, double it!

  8. Pinch of Yum Logo
    Molly G.

    I loved the texture of this dish, but the flavor was not my favorite. The cumin/paprika combo did not go well with the soy/rice vinegar/apricot flavors IMO. I think I would make it again but swap out those spices with ginger instead? but really great recipe as far as ease, technique & texture!






  9. Pinch of Yum Logo
    Danielle

    This was really tasty! If I made it again I’d leave out the cumin (it was good but felt like a really dominant flavor) and either increase the apricot or add some honey (maybe my preserves were less sweet than others). Still really tasty and would definitely make again!

  10. Pinch of Yum Logo
    Caroline

    I didn’t have any cornstarch, so I used arrowroot. The tofu didn’t get particularly crispy, but it did brown up. I think I’ll try cornstarch the next time.






  11. Pinch of Yum Logo
    Lilian

    This is a keeper. Outstanding. I pressed the tofu overnight, used rice flour since I ran out of cornstarch and added some slivered carrots to the beans. My family loved it.






  12. Pinch of Yum Logo
    Jan

    Made this last night. Really enjoyed the texture of the tofu – I liked breaking it apart rather than cutting it into cubes. I think next time I would double the sauce – I wanted it to be more saucy. I also added red pepper flakes for more of a kick. Will make again!






  13. Pinch of Yum Logo
    Sara

    I must be honest that I have not cooked tofu in YEARS after many disappointing recipes. However, this one looked so good that I did really want to try it. It is maybe the ultimate tofu recipe! Soooooo yummy and crunchy. I am a huge fan and will absolutely be making this again.






  14. Pinch of Yum Logo
    Julie

    I made this recipe last week with tofu for the veggies and chicken for the meat eaters. My question is this: do you think I could bake the tofu and get a similar , albeit probably not quite as good result? It was absolutely delicious, but I don’t want to deal with the mess again.

  15. Pinch of Yum Logo
    Dayna

    This was excellent. I love the texture of the tofu. So crispy on the outside and no spongey-tofu texture. I found the sauce a tad sweet, which could be due to the brand of apricot preserve I used maybe being on the sweet side. I might experiment with doing 1/4 cup preserves next time.






  16. Pinch of Yum Logo
    Mary C.

    I don’t think I will ever go back from this tofu method! Great texture. I loved this recipe! I added chili garlic sauce to the sauce instead of fresh garlic and for some kick. I also toned down the oil amounts a little bit to keep the calories a bit lower. But I did not skip the sesame oil drizzle at the end- that was delicious. Thank you yet again Pinch of Yum!!






  17. Pinch of Yum Logo
    Becca

    We loved this. We subbed the cumin for ginger powder, but otherwise made as written and it turned out great! It’s definitely going into our regular rotation.






  18. Pinch of Yum Logo
    Cynthia Cook

    This is delicious! My husband took one bite and said “oh wow! This is so good!” Quick, meatless and I didn’t notice.

  19. Pinch of Yum Logo
    Jessica

    So so good! Currently eating the tofu straight out of the pan while I wait for my IP rice to finish. Tofu got super crispy and the sauce is delicious!! I will always use this method for cooking tofu now!