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Lemon Tofu

Lemon Tofu
Lemon Tofu

This fresh and zesty take on the popular Chinese takeout classic is full of bright, citrusy flavour. It’s sweet, sour, tangy and tasty, perfect on its own or in a Chinese-style spread. As long as your tofu is pressed, it can be on the table in the time that it takes to cook your rice, so it’s a great midweek option for when you want something light and flavourful in a hurry.


Before you start

Tofu press or 2 clean kitchen towels and a weight • Small saucepan • Small saucepan with a lid • Wok • Line a large plate with paper towels


  • 280g firm tofu
  • Scant 1⁄2 cup cornflour
  • 3 tbsp flour
  • 1 cup vegetable oil, for deep-frying

For the marinade

  • 1 garlic clove
  • 2-inch piece fresh ginger
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp water
  • Pinch of chilli flakes

For the lemon sauce

  • 3 tbsp water
  • 1 tbsp cornflour
  • 1⁄8 cup agave or maple syrup
  • 1 lemon

For the rice

  • Generous 3⁄4 cup basmati rice
  • 2 cups boiling water
  • Salt

To serve

  • 2 spring onions
  • 1 tbsp sesame seeds
  • 1⁄2 lemon


  1. 1.

    Prepare the ingredients • Press the tofu for at least 10 minutes using the tofu press or place it between two clean kitchen towels, lay it on a plate, and put a weight on top • Peel and grate the garlic and ginger • Zest the lemon for the sauce and cut it in half • Slice the spring onions

  2. 2.

    Marinate the tofu • Put the soy sauce, water, garlic, ginger, and chilli flakes into a bowl and stir to combine • Take the tofu out of the press and rip it into strips no more than 1⁄2 inch thick • Put them in the bowl and stir to coat them in the marinade • Cover and set aside

  3. 3.

    Make the lemon sauce • Put the 3 tablespoons of water and tablespoon of cornflour into a small bowl and mix to make a slurry • Put the small pan over medium heat • Add the syrup, lemon zest, and juice and bring to a gentle simmer • Add the cornflour slurry and stir to combine • Turn the heat right down

  4. 4.

    Cook the rice • Rinse the rice under cold running water and tip it into the saucepan • Put the pan on the stove, add the boiling water, and a pinch of salt, cover, and bring to a boil over high heat • Stir once to loosen, then reduce the heat to a very low simmer • Cover and cook for exactly 12 minutes • Take the pan off the heat and set it to one side, leaving the lid on but with a small gap to let out steam

  5. 5.

    Cook the tofu • Place the wok on high heat and add the oil • Heat to 180ºC, or until the oil sizzles around the edges when you dip in a wooden spoon • Add the cornflour and flour to a bowl and stir to combine • Transfer the marinated tofu to the bowl and toss it in the flour to coat • Deep-fry the tofu in batches until the strips are crispy and golden • Transfer to the lined plate

  6. 6.

    Finish the lemon tofu and serve • Toss the crispy tofu pieces in the sticky lemon sauce, adding a splash more water if needed to loosen it • Spoon the rice into bowls then lay the tofu pieces over the top • Slice the remaining lemon half and place a wedge on each bowl • Garnish with the sliced spring onions and the sesame seeds and serve immediately