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Tofu Nuggets with Citrus Ponzu Sauce

Tofu nuggets are fried cubes of momendofu (firm tofu) that have a light crisp crust from a seasoned coating of cornstarch. Usually, a breading contains wheat flour that browns better for a golden brown crust but cornstarch is crispier yet lighter—both in texture and color—which is nicer with a softer interior like tofu.

Ponzu sauce is citrus-based and used as both a dipping sauce and a dressing. I love to blanch fresh spinach, stack and cut the leaves and serve with fresh ponzu sauce. Fresh citrus juice is essential. Lemon is most used but for a nice change you can use orange or lime juice.

Tofu Nuggets

1 block tofu, firm or extra firm
½ cup cornstarch
½ tsp. garlic powder
½ tsp. onion powder
½ tsp. salt*
2 Tbsp. toasted goma (sesame seeds)
vegetable oil for frying

Heat oil in a skillet to 350 degrees. In a small bowl, blend together the dry ingredients, except for sesame seeds. Cut tofu into small cubes. Dredge tofu cubes in the cornstarch mixture. Fry in hot oil until crisp, about three minutes. Drain on paper towels. Place on serving plate and sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds. Serve hot with Ponzu Sauce.
*This recipe uses little salt because it is served with ponzu sauce which is soy sauce-based and salty enough.

Citrus Ponzu Sauce

½ cup fresh lemon juice
¼ cup soy sauce
¼ cup dashi
2 tsp. sugar
1 tsp. mirin or rice wine

Blend together all ingredients and store in refrigerator until serving time. Juice from fresh lemons is necessary for the very best flavor!

This is the traditional version of Ponzu Sauce, but you can modify it to suit your creative tastes. Switch the lemon juice with fresh orange, lime or other citrus juice. Add sugar or honey to taste. Some like it sweeter; others not so sweet. I tend to like things sweet but then again, I am a diabetic and should avoid sugar.

Depending on what is being served along with this Ponzu Sauce, I like to add grated daikon and even crushed mint. Creativity is a good thing in the kitchen. Surprise your palate!

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