Orange tofu puts a vegan twist on the classic orange chicken recipe that still retains that juicy and savory flavor only with a few of the ingredients being exchanged to make this dish even more nutritious while still being as flavorful as the real thing.
Since tofu is an ingredient that absorbs any juices and flavors it comes into contact with, it makes for the perfect ingredient in this recipe since it is surrounded by an enormous amount of sauces, spices and delicious ingredients that all blend into one pot of nutritional goodness.
Here is all you need to know about orange tofu including how you can make it, how you can serve it the right way, and how nutritious it really is.
What Is Orange Tofu?
If you’ve been to any chicken-based fast food chain recently, chances are you have seen orange chicken on the menu which refers to a mixture of fried and battered chicken which is then covered in a sticky-sweet orange sauce that is slightly spicy and very delicious (see also “Delicious Warming Spicy Chili Oil Noodles“).
Orange tofu is based on that recipe, but switches out a lot of the fatty ingredients for ones that are far more nutritious, such as the tofu which still contains just as much protein as the chicken but is still low in calories along with having a much lower amount of saturated fats.
The recipe is quick and easy to make and since it makes use of so many vegetables, it’s a healthy side dish that you can enjoy at any time of the day.
How Does Orange Tofu Taste?
Because of the way the tofu is prepared, orange tofu is known for being extra-crispy in its texture which does allow it to replicate the feeling of chewing into some fried chicken.
The cornstarch also helps to add an extra layer of crispiness to the tofu which mixes incredibly well with a thick layer of orange sauce which gives the entire dish a very sweet and savory taste.
Orange tofu is therefore often described as being a slightly sweet and crispy dish that still has that zesty orange taste which mixes incredibly well with the crunchy vegetables mixed into the recipe.
How Healthy Is Orange Tofu?
Because of just how many vegetables are included in an orange tofu recipe including broccoli, red bell peppers and onions, it means that an orange tofu dish is incredibly rich in vitamin C, vitamin K, iron, potassium and fiber, alongside being quite low in calories with the average serving containing around 300 calories which can be lowered or risen depending on how many ingredients you choose to leave out.
The tofu itself is packed full of protein and while the orange sauce can be a little high in sodium due to the soy sauce, you can easily find low-sodium variants which will keep the meal delicious while helping to make it that much healthier.
Overall a bowl of orange tofu is refreshing, light and an extremely healthy side dish to enjoy when you have the ingredients ready and want something that won’t ramp up the calories as the original orange chicken recipe can.
Ingredients For Making Orange Tofu
- 1 14 Ounce Block of Super-Firm Tofu: If you can find them, try picking up a packet of super-firm tofu since they will not only become crispy much easier, but will also not absorb as much moisture for you to press out which saves you a lot of time.
- Vegetables: This really can be a mixture of whichever veggies you like the taste of most, however red onions, broccoli, red bell peppers and carrots are most popular since they add some much-needed crunchiness to the dish.
- 3 Tbsp of Cornstarch: A light coating of cornstarch will help to add just a little more crispiness to the tofu once it’s time to heat it up in the pan.
- 2 Tbsp of Rice Vinegar: Rice vinegar will add a little bit of sweetness to make the orange sauce taste even more delightful.
- ½ Cup of Soy Sauce: Adding a dash of soy sauce helps to boost the sweetness of the sauce while additionally also making it a little more bitter.
- 1 Cup of Orange Juice: A single cup of orange juice (see also: Carrot, Ginger, And Orange Juice Drink (Great For Immune System))will be enough to create the thick and creamy base of the sauce to give it both its color and the zesty taste that these orange recipes are so well known for.
- 2 Tbsp of Brown Sugar: The toffee-like flavor of brown sugar infuses even more rich flavors into the already extremely appetizing orange sauce.
- ½ Knob of Garlic & Ginger: Both these ingredients will help to make both the tofu and the orange sauce as smooth and creamy as possible while also enhancing their natural flavors.
How To Make Orange Tofu
The key to making the perfect and most delicious orange tofu is making sure that the tofu itself is cooked just right.
While there are a few ways you can prepare it, we would definitely recommend heating it up in a pan so that you get that crunchy texture and rich flavor that makes this dish so unique.
It should also be noted that if you do have any leftover orange tofu, it can be stored in a sealed container in the fridge for up to 4 days and can be easily reheated in a pan or microwave for you to enjoy.
With that being said, here is a step-by-step guide on how to make this delicious and creamy dish.
Step 1 – Cook the Tofu
Start by thoroughly coating each cube of your super-firm tofu with cornstarch. This will help make the texture as crispy and solid as possible once you start cooking.
Once this is done, heat the tofu up in a pan over medium to high heat so that it can slowly simmer.
You will know when the tofu is done because the cubes will turn golden brown and be much firmer and crispier when you prod them. Leave the tofu to cook in the pan for around 10 minutes.
Step 2 – Prepare the Orange Sauce
While you keep an eye on the tofu as it cooks, you can start preparing the ingredients for the orange sauce.
While doing this alongside cooking the tofu will make the recipe go much faster, if you want to pay extra close attention to how the tofu is cooking then you can still prepare the sauce after instead.
All you need to do to create the sauce is add the intended ingredients into a bowl including the orange sauce, brown sugar and soy sauce and whisk them for 5 to 10 minutes until the sauce is smooth and not too mushy.
Step 3 – Heat Up The Vegetables
Once your sauce and tofu are done cooking, add all your vegetables together in a skillet and cook them for approximately 5 minutes until they start becoming firm and giving off a sweet aroma.
Add in a dash of garlic halfway through this to enrich the flavors and when each veggie looks thoroughly cooked, put them in a bowl for later.
Step 4 – Mix Tofu and Orange Sauce
Using a skillet, boil the smooth and creamy sauce over a low to medium heat for no longer than 2 ½ minutes.
When you notice that it starts getting thicker, add the tofu to the skillet so that they can become even crispier and absorb as much of the tasty orange sauce as possible.
Step 5 – Layer Over the Vegetables
Now that the sauce and tofu have been combined and are piping hot, layer them over the vegetables in a bowl and you will have a delicious orange tofu meal for you and your guests to tuck into.
Step 6 – Garnish to Add More Flavor
If you do have any light ingredients that you think would go well with orange tofu, there is never any harm in using them as a garnish to finish off the recipe and to add as many complimentary flavors as possible.
While chili flakes are extremely popular among big spice fans, scallions or green onions will also add a hint of spice to the dish, however they are more on the milder side.
Other Ways To Prepare The Tofu
Pan frying the tofu is the easiest and best way to get that crunchy texture that makes an orange tofu dish so recognizable, however if you do want a more hands-free approach, they can still be baked at 435 degrees Fahrenheit for 30 minutes instead.
This will require a little more patience, however, this extended time does mean you can prepare the sauce and even veggies in time for when the tofu is golden brown and ready to serve, making this a great option if you don’t mind spending more time on the recipe and want to ensure that everything is prepared perfectly.
Alternatives to Tofu
While tofu is usually the go-to ingredient in this orange-chicken style dish since it can be made to replicate chicken with its crunchiness and savory flavor, if you aren’t a fan of tofu or want something that tastes even closer to the meaty chicken flavor, then there are definitely some other options you can use instead.
Any type of vegan chicken will work just as well in the same recipe, especially those that are made from seitan since this will still be just as high in protein as regular chicken or tofu while also steering very close to tasting just like some real chicken.
If you still want to keep the vegan chicken as crunchy as possible just like the tofu, the best option is covering it in a crispy coating of eggless better.
If you don’t have each of the listed ingredients with you right now or are struggling to find them in the food store, because it is quite easy to give orange sauce the thick texture and zesty flavor that it is so well known for, there are many other ingredients you can use instead.
Coconut sugar for example is extremely similar to brown sugar however it does have a much more noticeable caramel taste which can make it a perfect substitute.
If you only have some white sugar lying around, you can still use this instead, however you won’t get as much of that deep and incredibly rich toffee-like flavor that comes with using brown sugar.
If you want something that’s a little more mellow in its taste than soy sauce, you can switch this out for tamari sauce instead which is fairly similar in the overall flavor but does dial back the sweetness a fair amount, making it a great substitute if you’re worried about the soy sauce overpowering the other ingredients.
In terms of veggies, while you do have free choice of what you would like to include, the crunchier vegetables are often the better options since anything that’s too soft or moist can get lost in the sauce and won’t be as noticeable when you tuck in.
Roasted brussel sprouts, pecans and cauliflower are just a few tasty vegetables that you can use instead of the standard combination of carrots and broccoli.
How To Serve Orange Tofu
The most popular food that is commonly served alongside orange tofu is rice, specifically white rice such as Basmati or Arborio since the neutral flavor blends in perfectly with the zesty sauce rather than overpowering it.
The rice will therefore absorb all the sauces, spices and juices surrounding the dish which makes them a perfect addition to this side dish, however, if you did want a slightly healthier option that’s a little lower in calories, cauliflower rice works just as well.
You can also serve orange tofu alongside some thick noodles or pasta such as Udon nodules or Fettuccine, as long as they are big enough to absorb the mixture of flavors within the sauce, they will compliment the dish incredibly well.
Because of how light, refreshing and healthy orange tofu is, it is usually served as a small but delicious snack to keep you going in the day during the months of spring and summer, though with that being said, it can be enjoyed just as much as a late evening appetizer in the winter.
How Long Can You Keep Leftover Orange Tofu?
If there’s some leftover food from your orange tofu feast, the good news is that you won’t have to throw it out and instead can store it for later in the week to make sure it doesn’t go to waste.
All you need to do is store the orange tofu in an airtight container and place it in the refrigerator.
Because the tofu has already been opened, it will only last between 3 to 5 days in the fridge but you will be able to immediately tell if the tofu has gone bad by the smell which will be incredibly sour and unpleasant.
It can also always be worth checking for any discoloration or mold that might have appeared on the tofu to decide whether it should be thrown out or not.
Frequently Asked Questions
Do You Have To Use Super-Firm Tofu?
Super-firm or extra-firm tofu are always the best options to go for when making an orange tofu dish since when heated up, they become incredibly crispy and chewy to bite into which is the closest you can get to replicating the chicken used in the original recipe.
With that being said, you can still use regular or firm variants of tofu, however it should be kept in mind that these will be a lot softer and can sometimes get lost in the flavor of the sauce.
It is advised however to avoid silken tofu since it is the most malleable and is primarily used as a puree application such as a sauce or a dressing, and therefore it won’t be firm enough to chew down on when used as the main ingredient of an orange tofu recipe.
How Many People Does Orange Tofu Serve?
This orange tofu recipe will feed up to 4 people at once, making it perfect as a family dinner or even as a solo meal that can be enjoyed over the course of a few days.
You can make the dish a lot bigger by using twice the amount of ingredients if you want to make it into more of a party food, however do keep in mind that it can often be a lot harder to mix the sauce this way since you will need to mix the ingredients for a lot longer and it can come out a little too thick at times when there are too many ingredients, so using the basic recipe twice over is usually a better choice.
Is Orange Tofu Spicy?
The zesty and sweet flavor of orange tofu that comes from the orange and soy sauce means that the spiciness s kept to a minimum in this recipe, with it instead being a lot milder on the tastebuds.
If you do want to ramp the heat up a little more, you can still garnish the meal with chili flakes or even use peppers as part of the vegetable mix, however orange tofu is normally considered very light in its heat most of the time.
As a healthy substitute to the fan-favorite orange-chicken recipe, orange tofu is a light, refreshing and appetizing dish you won’t want to miss out on and is the perfect way to surprise the family when it’s time to gather around the dinner table for a delicious meal.
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