Toasted Sesame Tofu Caramelized with Agave Nectar, Wasabi and Soy Sauce

Toasted Sesame Tofu Caramelized with Agave Nectar, Wasabi and Soy Sauce Recipe

There are many sweet and sour flavor combinations in Asian cuisine, but I've gotten bored with the traditional hoisin plum sauce.  For this preparation I added agave as the sweet element in the dish. I've been experimenting with agave nectar that I got on my last trip to Florida.

Agave has a complex flavor that is sort of a cross between honey and caramel, but milder.  Tofu absorbs any flavor it comes in contact with and is perfect for the agave sauce. The dish is finished with some toasted sesame seeds for added crunch.


Yields: 4 servings

¼ cup agave nectar
2 tablespoons ginger paste, freshly grated
3 teaspoons wasabi powder
1 tablespoons water
1 teaspoon rice vinegar
2 tablespoons lime juice, freshly squeezed
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
½ cup shiitake mushrooms, sliced
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 teaspoon brown sugar
½ teaspoon smoked paprika
4 tablespoons canola oil, as needed
1 (12-ounce) package firm tofu
1 drizzle toasted sesame oil, optional
2 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds
2 tablespoons fresh cilantro, chopped
2 green onions, chopped


Stir together agave nectar, ginger, wasabi, water, rice vinegar, brown sugar, lime juice and paprika in a bowl.

Drain any liquid from the tofu. Pat dry with a paper towel. Slice the block of tofu into 1 inch thick pieces.

In a wok, heat the oil and fry the tofu slices; transfer to a plate.

In the same wok, add a little more oil if necessary. Cook the minced garlic for about a minute until slightly golden. Add the mushrooms. Sauté them in garlic for about 1-2 minutes. Transfer to a separate plate. The mushrooms should be a little undercooked as they will finish cooking in the sauce.

Over high heat, add the soy sauce-wasabi mixture to the wok. Add  the sliced tofu immediately. The tofu should be coated with all the sauce as it reduces and thickens. Add the mushrooms and finish with the green onions and cilantro.

Serve the tofu drizzled with the sauce and topped with toasted sesame seeds. Drizzle a little sesame oil on the dish.

Serve with wild rice.  If you want to get some greens in your diet, add some steamed broccolini with hoisin sauce, quickly stir-fried pea shoot tendrils (delicious Asian baby greens) with slivered garlic and dried chiles or sautéed bean sprouts.

Eat with chopsticks and enjoy!


To obtain ginger paste, clean the root and remove any dirt. Peel the ginger root with a paring knife. Grate the ginger with a fine mesh microplane using the sliding tool. Gather about 2 tablespoon of grated ginger root.

Wasabi is a green colored horseradish powder. You can get it in any Korean store. I get mine at the Marina -10122 Bandley Drive -Cupertino, CA 95014. They also have a great food-court.

I didn't use the Thanh Son tofu brand as I usually do because I didn't find it necessary. I used the organic water-packed version. Just make sure the package says "firm".

If you like a darker color and a spicier flavor, you can add 1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon of cayenne powder to the sauce.

Agave nectar, sometimes called agave syrup, is a natural sweetener. In France, it's called Agave honey. Unlike honey, agave nectar has a long shelf life and does not crystallize over time. Agave nectar is made out of the purified sap of cactus-like desert plants. It is very popular in Mexico.

It is not heated during production and is considered raw, which make it very healthy like raw honey. Unlike raw honey however, agave nectar is easy to spread because of its consistency.

Published By: Jacqueline Pham on March 20, 2009.


[-] Yum! - Guest-meHUNGRY!
This recipe looks delicious. I love tofu, especially caramelized like this. Will give me a chance to try cooking with agave nectar for the first time. Thanks for the great recipe and info.
[ Posted at 5:39 AM on 3/20/09 | Reply ]
[-] Thanks Phyllis - Jackie
I love agave nectar and I think you will too. If not or if you can't find it, you can always substitute with honey, preferably raw honey.
[ Posted at 1:07 AM on 3/21/09 | Reply ]
Your tofu looks perfect. I love your pictures. Thanks for sharing!
[ Posted at 9:09 PM on 3/20/09 | Reply ]
Its very cool that you shop at the marina food at Cupertino. Marina foods in my one stop shop for any obscure Chinese ingredient.
[ Posted at 12:52 AM on 3/21/09 | Reply ]

You can literally find any Asian ingredients at Marina Food. I love it too!

[ Posted at 1:11 AM on 3/21/09 | Reply ]
Delicious recipe Jacqueline. I was not sure how much tofu was in the block, but I used 350gm. I only used 2 tsp of wasabi and 1 tabs of ginger and the flavour was amazing. This amount was enough for 2 people. Thank you for a great recipe.
[ Posted at 4:57 PM on 7/9/09 | Reply ]
[-] Tofu - Jackie
Thank you Erica for your lovely comment. I hope that you will find inspirations by checking more of my recipes :)
I just updated the quantity for the tofu. One (12-oz) package of tofu usually is enough for 4 people but I guess I usually serve a salad, a cold soup or a warm broth, a main course and a dessert so my family is still full by the end of the meal :P
[ Posted at 5:38 PM on 7/9/09 | Reply ]
[-] Mmm! - Guest-Krista
How delicious! I love all the ingredients here, especially the ginger paste and toasted sesame seeds. :-)

Krista Website Link
[ Posted at 1:15 PM on 2/24/11 | Reply ]
This looks delish! I look forward to trying this recipe. Thanks for sharing!

Marjeri Website Link
[ Posted at 3:26 PM on 5/7/12 | Reply ]

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Banh Mi

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