Orange Tofu

March 14, 2022

Entree

By: Chris Petrellese 

This vegan take on a classic orange chicken recipe checks all the boxes with crispy pan-fried tofu smothered in a zesty orange sauce. This vegan orange tofu recipe is gluten-free, easy to make, and ready in about an hour. Did we mention that it tastes delicious?

Growing up, orange chicken was always a favorite of ours when ordering Chinese-American take-out. This tofu recipe is our take on a vegan orange chicken. It has all of the flavors of orange chicken while using ingredients that are better for you and the planet. 

ingredients for vegan orange tofu

Here’s What You Need to Make this Orange Tofu

  • Tofu: We like to use firm tofu for this recipe. We also recommend pressing your tofu to remove excess moisture to ensure maximum flavor. To press tofu, you can either use a store-bought tofu press or use this method here
  • Soy Sauce: Soy sauce has two applications in this recipe. First, soy sauce is used to marinate the tofu before frying. Second, soy sauce is used in the orange sauce to add a salty and umami flavor. If you want to make your recipe gluten-free, you can swap soy sauce for tamari.
  • Cornstarch: This will help get our tofu extra crispy and allow our sauce to get nice and thick.
  • Aromatics: The aromatics in this recipe, garlic, and ginger, add flavor and aroma. We recommend grating your ginger with a Microplane or box grater and mincing your garlic as finely as possible. This will help bring as much flavor to the dish as possible.
  • Sugar: Brown sugar is ideal to use in your orange sauce. If you want to ensure that the sugar being used is vegan-friendly, make sure it’s organic. We like to use the Wholesome brand. 
  • Vinegar: We recommend using rice vinegar for this recipe. Bringing an acidic element to our sauce will help balance all of the flavors. If you don’t have rice vinegar, regular white vinegar will also work. 
  • Spices: The seasoning blend for our orange tofu is simple. Along with the ginger and garlic we mentioned in the aromatics section, we add red pepper flakes to add a little bit of heat. We also add salt and white pepper when preparing the tofu before frying it for an extra pop of flavor. 
  • Oil: We like to use a high-heat neutral oil like avocado oil for pan-frying. To add some additional flavor to our dish, we also drizzle toasted sesame oil over the finished tofu.
  • Oranges: Two orange components are added to our sauce. First, we have orange juice. You can use store-bought or freshly squeezed homemade. We also use orange zest to bring an additional pop of flavor to our sauce. 
  • Garnish: Finishing off our orange tofu with toasted sesame seeds and green onions not only adds some additional flavor but takes the presentation to the next level. 
close up of saucy vegan orange tofu in a skillet

Equipment Needed:

The History of Orange Chicken

Believe it or not, orange chicken was invented by Chef Andy Kao from Panda Express in 1987. The recipe was originally a riff off of the popular dish general Tso’s chicken and has since gained popularity. It’s important to note that both orange and general Tso’s chicken are not traditional Chinese dishes, but rather cultural imports. They’re simply Americanized versions of sweet and sour dishes found in China. 

close up of saucy vegan orange tofu in a bowl with rice

Why Firm Tofu?

As mentioned earlier, we use firm tofu for this recipe. The reason is that firm tofu keeps its shape through the cooking process and also absorbs flavor better than extra firm tofu. The key to cooking this tofu perfectly is to press it for at least 30 minutes to 1 hour before preparing. Pressing your tofu will draw out the excess moisture so it can be re-infused with flavor in the marination and coating process. 

saucy vegan orange tofu in a bowl with rice

Looking for More Recipes? 

Make sure you tag us on Instagram @sweetsimplevegan and @consciouschris and hashtag #sweetsimplevegan if you recreate any of our recipes, we love to see your photos!

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close up of saucy vegan orange tofu in a bowl with rice

Orange Tofu


  • Author: Chris @ Sweet Simple Vegan
  • Total Time: 1 hour
  • Yield: 4 servings
  • Diet: Vegan

Description

This vegan take on a classic orange chicken recipe checks all the boxes with crispy pan-fried tofu smothered in a zesty orange sauce. This vegan orange tofu recipe is gluten-free, easy to make, and ready in about an hour.


Ingredients

Base Tofu

  • 1 block firm tofu, pressed
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce (or tamari)
  • Pinch of salt
  • Pinch of white pepper
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 3 tablespoon avocado oil, for frying

Sauce

  • 2/3 cup orange juice
  • 3 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon soy sauce (or tamari)
  • 3 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 2½ tablespoon rice vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon orange zest (or zest of 1 small orange)

Remaining Ingredients

  • 4 garlic cloves, finely minced
  • 1 teaspoon grated ginger, packed
  • ½ teaspoon red chili flakes
  • ¼ cup warm water
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 2 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
  • 1/4 cup sliced green onions, for garnish (optional)
  • Toasted sesame seeds, for garnish (optional)

Instructions

  1. Press the tofu for 30 minutes to 1 hour. Once pressed, cut into 1-inch cubes and transfer to a large bowl.
  2. Add the soy sauce, salt, and white pepper, and gently mix. Sprinkle over half of the cornstarch, mix, add the second half, and mix. Set aside.
  3. In a large skillet over medium-low, add the oil. Once heated, add the tofu and fry until golden brown. Remove tofu from the pan and set aside.
  4. To a small bowl, stir together all of the ingredients for the sauce. Set aside.
  5. In the same skillet that you fried the tofu, add in the garlic, ginger, red pepper flakes, and a pinch of salt. Add additional oil as needed. Sauté until fragrant, about 2-3 minutes.
  6. Add the sauce and bring to a boil.
  7. In a small bowl, mix together the warm water and cornstarch until smooth. Add it to the simmering sauce and whisk through. Allow the sauce to simmer, mixing often, until thick, about 6-8 minutes.
  8. Add in the cooked tofu and sesame oil. Mix until well combined. Season with additional salt as needed.
  9. Serve over rice with green onions and toasted sesame seeds. Enjoy!

Notes

  • Extra-firm tofu should also work for this recipe.
  • Our favorite way to serve this easy orange tofu recipe is with Jasmine rice and steamed or roasted broccoli.
  • White sugar or coconut sugar can also be used as the sweetener in this recipe.
  • Prep Time: 40 minutes
  • Cook Time: 20 minutes
  • Category: Entree
  • Method: Stove Top
  • Cuisine: North American Chinese

Keywords: Panda Express, Orange, Tofu, Plant based, Vegan, Entree, sweet, savory

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