Braised tofu and vegetables in sesame caramel sauce

This lovely recipe is inspired by the Chinese and Vietnamese methods of using caramel as flavouring and colour for a savoury sauce.

Here I’ve used sesame seeds for a toasty nuttiness, plenty of ginger for heat, and seaweed for depth and umami.

The tofu and mushrooms are soft and flavoursome, and the just cooked courgette and baby sweetcorn add texture as well as flavour.

It’s very quick to put together, and a pretty easy recipe to remember too, as you need 2 tablespoons each of all of the flavourings!

Braised tofu and vegetables with sesame caramel sauce

Braised tofu and vegetables with sesame caramel sauce

serves 2


15 x 10 cm piece of nori, shredded

2 tbsp tamari

200 g tofu, pressed and cut into 1 cm cubes

1 courgette, sliced into 5 mm rounds

1 large flat mushroom, cut into chunks

135 g baby sweetcorn

2 tbsp sesame seeds

2 tbsp oil

2 tbsp sugar

2 tbsp rice wine, dry vermouth or sherry

2 tbsp fresh chopped ginger

300 ml water

2 tbsp chopped fresh coriander


First put the nori in a small dish and cover with the tamari. Leave to soften.

Heat a large saucepan on a medium heat and add the sesame seeds. Cook, stirring all the time until starting to turn brown. Remove from the pan and set aside.

Put the pan back on the heat and add the oil and sugar, when the sugar has melted stir it constantly until it is a rich dark golden brown. Add the rice wine and retreat, it will spit a lot!

After a few seconds add the ginger and give it a good stir. Then the tofu, water, vegetables and sesame seeds.

Mix carefully to coat everything in sauce. Bring to the boil, partially cover, and turn the heat down. Simmer for about 8 minutes, stirring often as the sauce doesn’t cover all of the vegetables, until the courgette is just tender.

Remove the vegetables and tofu from the pan and turn the heat up to high. Boil the sauce furiously until it has reduced to about 100 ml, around 6 minutes.

Serve the vegetables and tofu topped with the sauce and coriander, with rice or noodles.


By E.

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