A new takeout alternative is here! Try this healthy and delicious Crispy Baked Cara Cara Orange Tofu for your next restaurant craving!
Are you a fan of Chinese food takeout on the weekend? Join the club! Making your own favorite recipe with healthy modifications saves you money and calories! Instead of deep frying, these crispy textured tofu cubes are baked! I know we all love a weekend splurge, but this orange tofu recipe will make you want to eat in instead of ordering out! Can we all say Fri-yay?
Citrus Fruits that Brighten Winter
When it comes to citrus fruits many of us think of delicate cocktails or smoothies in the summer. Citrus fruits are actually in season during the winter! What better time to get a boost of vitamins and minerals to get us through the cold and snowy season! Citrus, such as the Cara Cara orange in the recipe, is loaded with Vitamin C, folate, and dietary fiber. Vitamin C acts as an antioxidant to fight free radicals and aids in building collagen to keep our skin glowing.
Besides having a cute name, Cara Cara oranges give a beautiful pink hue and tangy taste. Some say the taste reminds them of cranberries! These gorgeous, seedless citrus favorites are in season during the winter to early spring. Try them in a smoothie, a winter salad, or as a marinade!
What’s the Deal with Soy?
In today’s food industry, soy has come a long way from the previous fears and misleading health claims. This plant-based, complete protein (containing all of the essential amino acids our body needs) comes from the soybean. There are numerous forms of soy out there besides the soybean, edamame. Tofu is the beancurd from soy milk. It works great in stir fries, soups, and desserts! If you want another option for sneaking soy in your diet, try tempeh, soy sauce, or miso. Or, if you want to try an alternative to cow’s milk, try a fulfilling glass of soy milk.
As we know, soy is an excellent source of protein, but it also provides calcium, iron, unsaturated fats, and fiber. Soy also contains isoflavones; mostly recognized is the estrogen-like compound, phytoestrogen. Because these compounds function like hormones, many feared an increased risk of hormone-related cancers. Current research mentioned in the Harvard School of Public Health newsletter has found that soy consumption as early as in adolescence may reduce risk for breast cancer occurence and recurrence.
Further research is ongoing for cardiovascular disease risk and blood pressure. However, replacing meats high in saturated fats, such as red meat, with soy foods suggests a beneficial outcome for the heart. This is because soy contains unsaturated fats, vitamins, and minerals.
In this Recipe…
In thirty minutes, you will have a tasty restaurant-style tofu with better nutrients and less saturated fat! Compared to the deep fried method, the tofu is coated with corn starch and seasonings, and then baked for a delicately crispy texture. For this crispy tofu method I was inspired by Cookie and Kate’s Crispy Tofu recipe (see here). Prior to coating the tofu, make sure to press the tofu with clean towels (or paper towels) to soak up the extra water and moisture. While the tofu bakes, make the sauce to save time. You will even have enough time to cook a side vegetable and whole grain to make this a complete meal. I added broccoli and kale with brown rice as a foundation for the orange tofu.
Corn starch is naturally gluten free, but for those gluten sensitive I recommend a certified gluten free corn starch product. In addition to gluten free corn starch, you will also need to substitute Tamari or coconut aminos for the soy sauce. For those that prefer a vegan option, substitute maple syrup for the honey to give sweetness to the sauce. Any meat lovers that are still not convinced to try tofu? Feel free to bake a lean protein like pork or chicken; the coating will still work great for any protein source. For cooking with meat, make sure the internal temperature is within the recommended range. Also note that cooking times for different protein sources will vary.
I would like to also take the time to give a very special thank you to our dear friend, Jordan Edwards. He has been a best (and loyal) friend of my husband’s since early college days and living abroad in Ireland. With his amazing culinary skills, especially in Asian cooking, he helped me create this delicious recipe. I still can’t believe we created an amazingly crispy textured tofu with half the calories! In addition to feeding my husband and I often with his cooking talents, he has also welcomed us into our new city of beautiful Boulder, Colorado. This recipe would not be as tasty without his help!
- Coating for Tofu:
- 1 15 ounce package extra firm tofu, cubed
- 1 Tablespoon olive oil
- 1/4 teaspoon Chinese Five Spice
- 1 Tablespoon Corn Starch (or more to coat)
- Salt and pepper, garlic powder to taste
- Orange Glaze:
- 1 teaspoon sesame oil
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/2 teaspoon ginger
- 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- Juice and Zest of one Cara Cara Orange (or another type of orange), approximately 1/4 cup
- 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce, low sodium (or tamari for Gluten Free option)
- 2 teaspoons honey
- 2 tablespoons vegetable broth
- 1/2-1 teaspoon cornstarch
- Additional toppings: chopped scallions, sesame seeds
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
- In a medium bowl, mix all of the ingredients for the coating and toss the tofu to coat.
- Spread the coated tofu on a greased or non-stick baking sheet. Bake for 30 minutes or until crispy.
- While the tofu bakes, make the sauce (below).
- For the Sauce:
- Combine in a small bowl, the juice, zest, vinegar, soy sauce, honey, and broth.
- Heat the sesame oil on medium heat and saute the garlic, ginger, and red pepper flakes for 1 minute or until fragrant.
- Add the bowl of wet ingredients to the saucepan and bring to a simmer for 5-7 minutes. To thicken the sauce, mix the cornstarch and a small amount of water to make a paste prior to stirring or whisking in the sauce. Once the sauce reaches the desired consistency turn off the heat and set aside.
- Once the tofu is baked to desired level of crispiness, remove from the oven. Toss the tofu and sauce in a medium bowl and serve. Top with scallions and sesame seeds, optional.