Orange Tofu in a sweet, flavorful sauce with sticky sweet potato noodles. A healthier, vegan spin on a favorite Chinese take-out dish!
Before I went vegan, my favorite Chinese food dishes were always the ones in super sweet sauces, and Orange Chicken was definitely high on my list. I loved the cloying sweetness and the citrusy punch at the end. Not that going vegan changed my love of sweet sauces, but it did limit my access to decadent Chinese food delivery, especially when the one place that did deliver vegan orange chicken removed my neighborhood from their delivery radius. Boo.
The upside to this development is that I don’t order as much delivery, and I’m so delighted to have figured out an orange tofu recipe of my own that’s just as good as the delivery version. I actually like it better. Instead of rice, this orange tofu is served with sweet potato noodles, made by spiralizing a sweet potato and then baking the ribbons. The noodles deliver a good amount of sweetness on their own, so you can back off of the sweetness in the sauce itself.
Instead of white sugar, which is used in restaurant orange chicken, this orange tofu gets its sweetness from juice and from maple syrup. It’s sticky, sweet, citrusy, and satisfying. And rather than deep frying the tofu, which is messy and greasy, you bake it in the oven at the same time as the sweet potato noodles. Hurrah for less mess and saving some work!
The sauce and noodles are pretty sweet, so this orange tofu is topped with fresh, raw bean sprouts, green onions, peanuts, and cilantro to balance thigns out. It really is a party in your mouth!
Orange Tofu with Sticky Sweet Potato Noodles
Yield: 2-3 servings
Recipe adapted from Thai Table.
- 1-2 large sweet potatoes (You want 4 cups, after spiralizing.)
- 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil, for baking the sweet potato noodles
- 1 block extra firm tofu, cubed
- 2 tablespoons sunflower oil or other neutral cooking oil, for sauteeing
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 lare or 2 small shallots, minced
- 1 teaspoon Sriracha sauce
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 1/4 cup water
- 1 naval orange, juiced and zested (You want 1/3 cup of OJ plus a tablespoon of zest.)
- juice of 2 fresh limes
- 4 tablespoons maple syrup
- 1/2 cup bean sprouts
- 1/4 cup green onions, green parts only, chopped
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
- 1/4 cup peanuts
- 1 lime, quartered
- Preheat the oven to 425F.
- Cut the sweet potato lengthwise into pieces that will fit into your spiralizer (no need to peel them). You’ll have the best results if you cut them into the biggest possible pieces that still fit into your spiralizer. Skinny pieces will crumble and frustrate you, causing you to cuss in front of your three-year-old. I hear. Spiralize the sweet potato, then toss with the 1 teaspoon sesame oil.
- Spread the noodles onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a Silpat.
- Spread the tofu out on another lined baking sheet, and season with salt and pepper. Put both pans into the oven.
- Bake the sweet potato noodles for 18-20 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes, until they’re browned. Pull them out of the oven and set aside. Turn off the oven, but leave the tray of tofu in there. The residual heat will continue to cook it, while you make the sauce. Pull the tofu out of the pan 10 minutes after you pull out the sweet potatoes.
- Once the sweet potatoes are done baking, heat the sunflower oil in a large frying pan on medium heat. Add the garlic and shallot and cook, stirring, until they brown. This takes about 3 minutes.
- Reduce the heat to medium-low, and add the Sriracha, soy sauce, water, orange juice, orange zest, lime juice, and maple syrup. Cook, stirring frequently, for 17-18 minutes, until the sauce thickens up enough that when you pull your spoon through it, it doesn’t rush back in to fill the empty space right away.
- Add the baked tofu to the pan with the sauce, and toss until it’s very well coated in sauce and the sauce thickens up even more – about 5 more minutes. By now, the sauce should be the consistency of maple syrup.
- Turn off the heat, and add the sweet potato noodles, gently tossing them to coat evenly in the sauce.
- Divide the orange tofu between 2 or 3 plates. Top each plate with the bean sprouts, green onion, cilantro, and peanuts. Garnish each plate with a piece of lime.