Crispy Eggplant Tofu (vegan)

Crispy Eggplant Tofu (vegan)

One of my guilty pleasures and favorite places to get a quick meal is Panda Express. I know it’s not authentic Chinese food, but man is it good. My two favorite entrees at Panda would have to be the orange chicken and the eggplant tofu. However I will admit their eggplant tofu is extremely oily so I aspired to make a somewhat healthier version and add my own touch to it.

This version of the dish gives you nice crispy eggplant and tofu pieces (not deep fried!) covered in a yummy garlic and ginger soy sauce glaze. Enjoy 🙂

Ingredients: (makes about 2-3 servings)

  • 2 small or 1 large Chinese long eggplant (regular eggplant will work too, but not as well)
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tbsp cornstarch
  • 1/2 block firm tofu
  • Avocado oil (or any neutral vegetable oil)
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon of ginger, minced
  • green onions, chopped (optional, for topping)
  • Sauce:
    1. *1 tbsp light soy sauce (or regular soy sauce)
    2. *1/2 tsp dark soy sauce (regular soy sauce fine if you don’t have this)
    3. 1 tbsp water
    4. 2 tsp sugar (I use monk fruit sweetener or coconut sugar as a healthier alternative)
    5. 1 tsp cornstarch*substitute tamari for gluten free

Instructions:

  1. cut eggplant into bite size pieces and then **place into a bowl of water (enough water to cover eggplant) then add sea salt to water and mix. Cover with something heavy (I use a smaller bowl of water) so that eggplant pieces are completely submerged in water. Leave for 15 minutes.
    1. **This step is very important to get rid of the bitterness of the eggplant! You could also add sea salt to the eggplant pieces and let them sit out for about 45-60 minutes, but i like the submerged water method because its faster haha.
  2. While waiting for eggplant, press your tofu. Grab your half block of tofu and place in between a dish towel or 2 paper towels. Place something with some weight (not heavy enough to break the tofu, I usually use a small plate) on the top towel layer. Leave for 10-15 min to let most of the moisture out of the tofu. After 10-15 minutes, cut tofu into 1/2” thick pieces and set aside.
  3. Combine ingredients for sauce in a bowl and mix well.
  4. After 15 min for eggplant is up, empty water and pat pieces dry with a dish towel or paper towel.
  5. Sprinkle eggplant pieces with about 1 tbsp cornstarch and mix by hand, until each piece of eggplant is evenly coated with with a thin layer of cornstarch.
  6. In a non-stick pan on medium-high heat add about 2 tbsp of avocado oil and add the eggplant pieces without them touching. Cook pieces one side at a time until all sides are lightly golden brown and eggplant is soft (about 3-5 minutes per side.) Transfer eggplant from pan to a plate and set aside.
  7. In same pan or another non-stick pan at medium heat, fry your tofu (I usually do this step at the same time eggplant is cooking in another pan.) You can also coat your tofu with cornstarch to make it extra crispy if you would like, but i find it’s not necessary. Spray or lightly drizzle avocado oil into pan and place tofu pieces with largest sides down, not overlapping. Flip when nice and dark golden brown, about 3-5 minutes per side. Transfer from pan to a plate and set aside.
  8. Add about 1/2 teaspoon of avocado oil, minced ginger, and garlic into the same pan on medium high heat. Once fragrant, add the eggplant and tofu back into the skillet. Mix the sauce again until cornstarch is fully dissolved and then pour it over the eggplant and tofu. Immediately stir a few times, until the eggplant and tofu pieces are all evenly coated and the sauce thickens.
  9. Transfer everything to a plate, top with green onions, and enjoy! 🙂

**This dish is best served fresh! I’ve tried to save leftovers and eat it the next day, but it is not nearly as god since it loses its crispiness.

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