Sesame seeds hold a special place in our home. While ancient Babylonian women consumed the seeds with honey in hopes of keeping up their youth, my husband and I sprinkle them over several dishes for flavor, crunch, and added calcium, in the way others may season with salt and pepper.
As the title suggests, I used both the most widely known off-white variety of the seed, as well as the lesser known black variety to create a handsome appetizer or side. My husband found this dish a bit lacking in the heat department, so, for a variation, extra garlic or a pinch or two of cayenne pepper can be added to the sauce.
1 block (250 grams) firm tofu
2 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon sesame oil
2-3 cloves crushed garlic
1-2 tablespoons high smoke point oil, such as grapeseed oil
A pinch of salt
4 tablespoons off-white sesame seeds
4 tablespoons roasted black sesame seeds
Carefully take the tofu out of the packaging, discard any liquid. Wrap the block of tofu in a kitchen towel and leave it to sit for 10 minutes or more. Tofu can hold lots of excess water, so replacing the towel midway through the sitting period is a good idea.
Next, gently unwrap the tofu and cut it into bite-sized squares or rectangles. Heat a tablespoon of high smoke point oil in a pan and brown the tofu on each side. Work in batches, adding oil to the pan as needed. Place the tofu bites on a clean kitchen or paper towel to drain off excess oil.
Meanwhile, prepare the glaze. Using a mortar and pestle, pound the garlic into a paste with the pinch of salt. Salt helps to break the garlic down quickly. Heat the sesame oil over medium heat in a small sauce pan on the stove top. Add the garlic paste and stir until fragrant. Gently stir in the honey. As soon as it begins to foam, take it off the heat. The glaze should be thick and sticky, but a little more sesame oil can be added if the mixture is too thick, or does not drizzle evenly from a spoon when tested.
Using tongs, add the tofu bites back to the pan, a few at a time, taking care to coat each side in the sauce. Gently roll half of the tofu bites in the off-white sesame seeds, and the remaining tofu bites in the black sesame seeds. Serve immediately.