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Roasted Orange Salty Caramel Tofu

Roasted Orange Salty Caramel Tofu 6.000

Goran Kosanovic for The Washington Post

DIY Jan 10, 2016

This recipe takes advantage of the cara cara and blood oranges just now in season, but can be made with navel oranges as well. The sauce, which comes together quickly, is bright and full of umami. It relies on exceptional fish sauce, so use Red Boat or another high-quality fermented variety.

The sauce is great with duck breast; see the VARIATION below.

Make Ahead: The tofu needs to drain for 1 hour.


When you scale a recipe, keep in mind that cooking times and temperatures, pan sizes and seasonings may be affected, so adjust accordingly. Also, amounts listed in the directions will not reflect the changes made to ingredient amounts.

Tested size: 6 servings

  • Three 14-ounce blocks extra-firm tofu
  • 3 Cara Cara or blood oranges
  • 2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
  • 1 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup good-quality fish sauce, preferably Red Boat brand
  • 1/2 cup plain rice vinegar
  • 1/4 cup fresh orange juice
  • 1/4 cup fresh lime juice
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons finely grated fresh peeled ginger root
  • 1 tablespoon minced, fresh lemongrass
  • 1 cup cornstarch
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup grapeseed oil
  • 6 large scallions (white and light-green parts), slivered (1/2 cup)
  • 1/4 cup loosely packed cilantro sprigs
  • 1/4 cup minced chives
  • 1/2 teaspoon unsalted butter


Do this in the sink: Place the blocks of tofu on a board and cover with another board. Top with a 28-ounce can (for weight). Tilt this contraption slightly so the excess moisture in the tofu will be pressed out, and the water will drain away. Drain for 1 hour.

Heat the oven to 400 degrees. Seat an ovenproof rack in a rimmed baking sheet.

Slice off and discard the tops and bottoms of 2 oranges. Use a Y-shaped vegetable peeler to cut wide strips of zest from the third orange; juice that orange for the 1/4 cup you’ll need for this recipe.

Cut each of the 2 remaining oranges horizontally into 3 thick slices. Rub them with the toasted sesame oil, then place them on the baking sheet rack; roast for 25 minutes, until the edges are caramelized and their surfaces are bubbling. Let them cool.

Combine the reserved orange-peel strips, brown sugar, fish sauce, rice vinegar, orange juice, lime juice, ginger and lemon grass in a large, wide, straight-sided saute pan. Bring the mixture to a boil over high heat, stirring until the sugar has dissolved. Add the roasted orange slices, then reduce the heat to medium and cook for 12 to 15 minutes or until the mixture has reduced by half, to form a caramel sauce.

Meanwhile, whisk together the cornstarch, salt and pepper on a plate. Heat the grapeseed oil in a large, wide saute pan over medium-high heat. Line a plate with layers of paper towels.

Cut each drained block of tofu into 4 equal slices and use more paper towels to pat the tofu dry. Press each one into the cornstarch mixture, making sure the tofu is completely coated and shaking off any excess.

Once the grapeseed oil is shimmering, working in batches as needed, pan-fry the tofu blocks on the first side for about 3 minutes or until nicely browned, then turn them over and cook on the second side for 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer to the paper-towel-lined plate to drain.

Stir the caramel sauce; if it is not thick and spoonable, like a warm chocolate sauce, increase the heat to medium and cook further to reduce it to the right consistency.

When ready to serve, combine the slivered scallions, cilantro sprigs and chives in a bowl. Add all but a pinch or two to the sauce, reserving the rest as a garnish. Cook the sauce for 1 minute, then stir in the butter, which will make the sauce shiny. Add the tofu pieces; use tongs to turn them over a few times, making sure each one is coated thoroughly with sauce.

On each warmed plate, place 1 roasted orange slice and 2 slices of tofu. Generously spoon the sauce over the tofu; garnish with the reserved scallions, cilantro and chives. Serve warm.

VARIATION: To make Roasted Orange Salty Caramel Duck Breasts, use a sharp knife to score the fat sides of 6 chilled duck breasts (about 8 ounces each), creating a shallow crosshatch pattern. (Do not season the duck breasts.)

Arrange 3 duck breasts fat side down in each of two ovenproof saute pans (cast iron is perfect) over medium heat, cooking until they release easily from the pan, a fair amount of fat has rendered and the skins are toasty brown, about 8 minutes. Turn the duck breasts over; transfer the two pans to the oven and roast at 400 degrees for 5 to 7 minutes or until the internal temperature of the thickest part of the duck breast registers 150 degrees (medium-rare) on an instant-read thermometer.

Let the duck breasts rest while you finish the sauce (as in the steps above). To serve, cut the duck breasts into 1/2-inch slices and fan out over the roasted orange slices. Spoon the sauce generously over the duck, and garnish as in the recipe above.

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Recipe Source

From Cathy Barrow, the author of “Mrs. Wheelbarrow’s Practical Pantry: Recipes and Techniques for Year-Round Preserving” (W.W. Norton, 2014).

Tested by Cathy Barrow.

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Ingredients are too variable for a meaningful analysis.

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