Rolled in Panko bread crumb and seasoned with herbs and spices, then baked until browned and crispy, this Baked Panko Crusted Tofu is the BEST among the best.
Bold statement for a tofu, but I wouldn’t call it the BEST if it is not the best. I was truly surprised happy how this Panko Crusted Tofu with Sesame Sauce turned out. I wasn’t actually on making this one, I have a different recipe in my mind (also using tofu) but then I was again reminded on my Summer vacation in Whistler where I had this Panko crusted tofu the first time. It tasted so good that I cannot get it out of my mind. So I came up with this recipe, my own version of Baked Panko Crusted Tofu and might I say that I think I nailed it and made it even better than the one that I had at Whistler, BC.
When I first made this, I used the extra firm tofu. It was ok, but I find the texture too hard (well it’s a firm tofu after all), and thought of making it again using a medium soft tofu. I wouldn’t go back to using the firm tofu for this dish again, the medium soft turned out to be the perfect one for this recipe. It has the right firmness, not too soft and not to firm, but just the right softness that it melts in your mouth when you eat it. It’s so silk smooth and soft, and yet it’s firm enough to hold its shape and not break apart while baking and transferring it.
It’s the Panko Breading
What made this tofu dish special is the panko bread crumbs coating. Panko bread crumbs have a lighter and crunchier texture, a perfect complement to the softness of the tofu. The breading have quite a lot of spices in it, just because tofu doesn’t have any taste at all. So adding more spices to make it not bland is mandatory if you want to have a flavorful tofu. And this goes for mostly all tofu dishes, not only this one.
What is the difference between regular bread crumbs and panko bread crumbs?
- Panko Bread Crumbs (or Japanese Bread Crumbs) is made from a bread without a crust, basically a crustless bread (without the brown edges). The bread is coarsely ground into airy, large flakes that give fried foods a light, crunchy coating. It doesn’t absorb as much grease so the texture tends to be crispier and drier and the color is whiter. It’s commonly used in Asian countries but now it’s gaining popularity even in Western dishes.
- Regular Bread Crumbs – Having said all these, regular bread crumbs is just the opposite. It uses a bread with crust thus making it darker in color. It has a fine coarse texture, but not as flaky and light as panko bread crumbs. It also absorbs grease a lot more than panko.
The Sesame Teriyaki Sauce
Even without the sauce, this tofu can be enjoyed on its own, but there’s nothing like eating it with a sauce. I am going to say it again, tofu relies heavily on spices and sauces for taste and flavor, that’s just how it is. So taking few minutes to make this simple and easy Sesame Garlic Teriyaki Sauce is worth it, trust me. It makes a lot of difference. This sauce was an adaptation of the Sauce I used for my Teriyaki Tofu with a little bit of adjustment. If you already have a ready to use bottled Teriyaki Sauce, you can also use that, but if you don’t have it, there’s really no reason to buy an entire bottle because you can make your own at home.
Just a recap, flavor generously and spice up the tofu, bake until the coating is crispy then make the sauce to seal the deal. Easy! Let’s get started!
- 1/2 cup Panko bread crumbs
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
- 1/2 tsp red chili flakes
- 1/4 tsp garlic powder
- 1 Pack Medium Soft Tofu
- 1 tbsp chopped green onion – optional
- 1/2 cup Water
- 2 tbsp Soy sauce
- 1/4 cup Brown sugar
- 1/4 tsp Garlic powder
- 1 tsp Cornstarch
- 1/2 tsp Red chili pepper
- Pre-heat the oven to 350F
- Prepare the Tofu: Cut the tofu into bite size pieces and transfer in a big bowl. Drizzle with oil and toss.
- Mix the spices: In a small bowl, mix panko bread crumbs, salt, cayenne pepper, red chili flakes and garlic powder.
- Coat the tofu with panko: Sprinkle the spices and panko bread crumbs mixture into the tofu. Toss make sure the tofu is coated with bread crumbs.
- Bake: Arrange the tofu in a baking tray. Pickup the leftover bread crumb and sprinkle them on top of the tofu. Spray tofu with olive oil and sprinkle more cayenne pepper on top. Bake for 30 minutes, or until the bread crumbs becomes toasted and browned. Remove from the pan.
- Make the Sauce: Add water, soy sauce, brown sugar, garlic powder, cornstarch and red chili flakes. Stir until cornstarch is fully dissolved. Cook for 2-3 minutes, stirring continuously until the sauce has thickens. Taste and adjust seasonings as desired.
- Serve: Pour or have the sauce on the side. Garnish with chopped green onions (optional)
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