ORANGE TOFU – Tangy Goodness!



There are a few things I miss from my carnivorous days. Orange chicken is one. I love the tangy orange sauce clinging to the deep fried batter surrounding luscious tender chicken pieces.

Now, as a vegetarian, I’m always searching for recipes that fulfill those cravings but don’t make me feel like my food is ‘less than’. If you start feeling like you’re eating second rate, that’s when you fall off the vegetarian wagon.

Unless you’re eating a plain steak, pork chop, or turkey slice, most meat dishes use meat as a foundation – the majority of taste coming from sauce, spices, and toppings. Using that knowledge, my challenge is to find a substitute that allows the essence of the original. Sometimes I use imitation meats (such as fake sausage, hot dogs, and chicken), and sometimes I find a similarly textured food (such as jack fruit in place of pulled pork).

In the case of Orange Tofu, I’m not trying to fool anyone – clearly, this is tofu, not chicken. My very first blogpost was THE ORANGE CHICKEN DILEMMA, in which I use imitation chicken (or turkey) to give the texture of the real thing.

However, there are people out there concerned about using imitation products. “What’s in it?” is a common question. While my family prefers Orange “Chicken” (quotation marks denote “fake”), I decided to make an Orange Tofu for those leery of faux foods.

So, donning my lab coat, I began to experiment with tofu. What I found was the longer you cook it, the more rubbery it becomes. Unfortunately, this rules out batter dipped deep frying because of the time it takes to get that golden brown crispy coat. Rather, a quick fry in a teeny bit of oil on a nonstick skillet worked best for taste. I will grant you, it doesn’t look as pretty as the deep fried version, but it’s delicious.  (And your arteries will thank you!)

ORANGE TOFU – makes about 3 servings

  • 1 block of tofu, extra firm
  • 4 T fresh orange juice
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 3 T rice wine vinegar
  • 2 T lemon juice
  • 4 tsp soy sauce
  • 1/2 T orange zest, packed (don’t be stingy!)
  • 1/2 cup dark brown sugar, packed
  • 1/4 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 1½ T cornstarch
  • 1 T water

Remove tofu from package and press with heavy plate for 1/2 hour to remove water.

Meanwhile, prepare orange sauce. In a small saucepan bring the orange juice, 1/2 cup water, vinegar, lemon juice, soy sauce, zest, sugar, ginger, and garlic powder to a boil. In a small bowl blend together the cornstarch and 1 T water until smooth. Slowly stream it into the boiling orange juice mixture, stirring as you pour, until sauce is thickened.

NOTE: As Queen of Freeze, I would be remiss if I didn’t tell you this orange sauce freezes well. So, if you like it, double or triple the recipe next time and freeze in portion sized containers for future use.

Slice tofu into pieces 3/8″ in width. Heat about 1/2 T oil in a nonstick skillet. Fry tofu a couple of minutes on each side, until lightly browned. Be careful of oil spatter! If you don’t have a nonstick skillet, use a regular one and increase the amount of oil. Drain on paper towel.

Serve tofu on sticky rice, topped with orange sauce.


The Orange Chicken Dilemma



Welcome to my first blog post!  I also have an online vegetarian cooking show – Vegetarian Cooking For Carnivores (Hey, if a title works, don’t mess with it!), which can be found at  But the videos take a lot of time to produce so I decided to start a blog to chronicle the ins and outs of daily vegetarian living. Questions, comments, and suggestions are always welcome!!!

So yesterday I was at the mall and passed Panda Express (a Chinese food chain restaurant). They have the best Orange Chicken (yes, I’m not perfect – I’ve fallen off the vegetarian wagon now & then).  And there it was:  a bin of piping hot Orange Chicken.  You’ll be proud of me – I kept walking.  But that Orange Chicken was on my mind.  Now those of you out there may or may not know, but there are a multitude of imitation meats (aka ‘faux’ meats for those of you posh people; ‘fake’ meat for the rest of us).  Some are better than others – they range from amazing to cardboard.  The key is to find the right product for the right recipe.

Well, I’ve found a fake (yes, I’m going to use the word ‘fake’) chicken that’s pretty darn good and I decided to make my own Orange ‘Chicken’.  It was pretty easy to put together – the longest part was the deep frying.  Okay, so it’s not the healthiest meal, but sometimes ya just gotta indulge.  And I used the fake stuff so nothing had to die! (I’m really good at rationalizing!)  I served it with Mushy Peas, broccoli, and a green salad – kind of a green theme going on.  You can also make sticky rice to serve with it, but I was cutting down on the calories, what with the deep frying and all.

Here’s how to make it:


  • 1 1/3 lb fake chicken – (I used Worthington Chicken Style loaf – 1/3 of the whole loaf)
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 2 T orange juice
  • 1/3 cup rice wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 2 1/2 T soy sauce
  • 1 T orange zest (don’t skip this or it won’t be as tangy!)
  • 1 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 3 T cornstarch
  • 2 T water
  • oil for deep frying

First thing to do is to get your deep frying oil heated to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.  I use canola oil, but suit yourself.  Use a wok, if you have one.  Otherwise, use a large, deep saucepan.  While the oil is heating, cut the ‘chicken’ into 1/2″ slices, and then cut those slices into 6 pieces.  In a large bowl put the flour, salt, and pepper.  I threw in 1/2 tsp of cayenne, just for kicks.  With all the orange flavors, I couldn’t taste it.  In another large bowl beat the eggs.  Put the ‘chicken’ pieces in the egg and stir it up so the pieces are completely covered with egg.  Then one by one put about half of the eggy ‘chicken’ in the bowl with the flour.  Gently mix it with your hands to get the pieces completely covered with the flour. When the oil is at 375 degrees, drop the coated pieces in carefully.  Drop each new piece in a different part of the wok so they stay separate.  They’ll take about 15 minutes to get golden brown.  Have paper towels ready for draining the cooked pieces.  When the first batch is done, cook the remaining pieces.

While the ‘chicken’ is frying, prepare the sauce.  In a small bowl mix the cornstarch and the 2 T water together so it forms a paste – stir it slowly with the bottom of a spoon to make sure there are no lumps.  In a saucepan bring the 1 1/2 cups of water, orange juice, lemon juice, rice vinegar, and soy sauce to a boil.  Add in the brown sugar, zest, ginger, and garlic powder.  Boil for 1 minute.  Slowly pour in the cornstarch mixture, stirring constantly. Continue cooking until thick and it turns a dark brown – about 5 minutes.

When all the ‘chicken’ is deep fried, put them in a large bowl and pour the orange sauce on top.  You can eat it like that, or do what I do:  pour this mixture into a jelly roll pan and place under the broiler for about 3 minutes (about 3″ from the element).

This makes a lot!  It’s enough for 2 nights of dinner for my husband and me, plus lunch for one (me!).  To heat it up I put it in my toaster oven on the little cookie sheet and pushed the toaster lever to the highest setting.  It was FABULOUS!