September has always been my favorite month (I’ve mentioned it before, I’m sure), not just because it’s my birthday month, but because it’s back-to-school. It’s been many years since I’ve been back-to-school but I still love that crisp autumn air, brand new notebooks, freshly sharpened pencils, and the feeling that this (school) year, anything will be possible.
Yup, it’s official, I was and always will be the biggest nerd. Part of the fun of back-to-school was definitely after school snacks. Somehow back then it just felt right to eat an extra meal after class and call it a snack. My snacks would literally be miniature meals: packs of instant ramen, mac and cheese, or chicken nuggets. Ah, the things I used to get away with eating. I don’t really do snack meals anymore, but if I did, these honey jalapeño tofu nuggets would be just the ticket.
I’m a huge fan of tofu, as I’m sure you know – especially when it’s crispy. That’s not to say I don’t like the texture of creamy tofu, I do, and that’s why these tofu nuggets are the best of both worlds. They’re incredibly crunchy on the outside and creamy and soft on the inside. Drizzle them with (or dunk in) some creamed honey jalapeño garlic sauce and you’ve got the perfect after school or anytime snack.
Honey Jalapeño Tofu Nuggets
makes 24 nuggets
- 1 block medium or firm tofu
- 1 cup potato starch
- oil for frying
- 3-4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 jalapeno, minced
- 2 tablespoons creamed honey
- 1/2 tablespoon soy sauce
- freshly ground pepper
Drain your tofu and cut it into 8 even pieces and then cut each piece evenly into 3 so you end up with “nugget” shapes. Place a couple of paper towels down on a plate or cutting board and lay out your tofu. Place a couple of paper towels on top. They idea is that you’re drying it out slightly – you’re not pressing it, just removing some excess moisture. Pressing removes most of the moisture from tofu, which is NOT what we want here. Leave it a bit moist, this ensures a soft and creamy tofu interior that will contrast with the crunchy potato starch coating.
Spread your potato starch out in a shallow dish and coat each piece of tofu, ensuring that there are no bare spots.
In a cast iron pan, heat up a bit of oil over medium high heat. You don’t need a bunch of oil here, just maybe about 1 1/2 to 2 tablespoons. When the oil is hot and shimmery (you can test it with an uncoated wooden chopstick – when the oil is hot bubbles will form around the chopstick), add the coated pieces of tofu and cook until golden brown and crispy. Time wise, this can vary, but tofu is quite forgiving as it doesn’t brown easily. When one side is brown, flip it over and repeat. Rest tofu on a wire rack (this ensures crispiness) while you make your sauce.
In a small sauce pan, heat up the garlic, jalapeño, honey, and soy sauce over medium high heat until slightly reduced and glossy. Season with pepper and drizzle over the tofu pieces or serve as a dipping sauce. Enjoy immediately!
Notes: A lot of tofu recipes call for marination, but I prefer to cook my tofu plain and add sauce later. That way the flavor of the tofu (and yes, tofu has a flavor) isn’t marred.
The tofu I used for this is block tofu, not silken.
You can find potato starch in most Asian grocery stores. Potato starch has a bubbly, extra crunchy texture when deep-fried. You can substitute cornstarch, but it won’t have the same crunch factor.
PS – On the subject of snacks: I always have honey in my cupboards, not just for honey garlic sauce, but also to add a touch of light natural sweetness to snack time. I can think of so many ways I use honey, but here are just three quick tips:
- Ricotta drizzled with a bit of honey on crisp flatbread.
- On top of pancakes instead of syrup.
- Honey milk tea when I need an afternoon pick-me-up.