Wendy Andresen

I’ve been working for a long time on developing this recipe, and I think I finally nailed it. If you’ve met the General before, you know he’s a spicy fellow who will haunt your memory until you meet again.

Make the sauce first and keep it handy while preparing the tofu. It’s worth making a double batch of sauce since it stores well in the refrigerator. We had some steamed broccoli alongside, and the sauce was good on that too.

This is actually a fairly quick and easy recipe with a rave-worthy result.

Sauce:

2/3 cup water

1 Tbsp. cornstarch

1/4 cup brown sugar

4 cloves garlic, minced

1 Tbsp. minced fresh ginger

3 Tbsp. reduced-sodium soy sauce

2 Tbsp. hoisin sauce

1 Tbsp. rice vinegar

2 tsp. toasted sesame oil

1/4 to 1/2 tsp. hot pepper flakes

Whisk all ingredients together in a small saucepan. Heat and whisk until thickened and hot.

Crispy tofu ingredients:

1 block extra-firm tofu, such as Heiwa

4 to 5 Tbsp. cornstarch

2 Tbsp. soy sauce

1 Tbsp. toasted sesame oil

1 Tbsp. agave nectar

2 Tbsp. or more neutral oil for frying

Sesame seeds for garnish

Sliced scallions for garnish

Crispy tofu directions:

1. Drain the tofu, dry it somewhat on paper towels, cut it into 3/4 -inch cubes and place them on a kitchen towel. Squeeze out as much water as possible, but try not to break the pieces up.

2. Place tofu cubes in a plastic bag or a container with a lid and add the soy sauce, sesame oil and agave nectar. Toss gently. Then add the cornstarch 1 Tbsp. at a time, tossing after each addition.

3. Heat a sauté pan and add enough oil to coat the pan. Shake any excess cornstarch off the tofu and fry the cubes on medium heat until browned on all sides. Try to keep the pieces from sticking together. You may want to use some combination of a flipper, tongs or your fingers to separate them if they do cohere.

4. Pour the sauce over the tofu cubes and stir gently while bringing up the heat. Garnish with scallions and sesame seeds. Serve with rice or noodles.

Wendy Andresen lives in Camden with her husband, Ray; her Sheltie, Sunshine; and her bunny, Rustle. She welcomes responses to her column at wendyandrayzer@yahoo.com.