Orange-Braised Tofu

This orange-braised tofu, which is gently cooked with fennel and onion wedges and sprinkled with nuts and orange segments, is an easy meal that will satisfy vegetarians and carnivores alike.

A plate of orange-braised tofu with fennel and onion wedges and orange segments on top.

Tofu is delicious when braised, and fennel is too; all that remained was to put them together. I added oranges—fennel and citrus fruits always go well together—as well as almonds and pistachios, just to be greedy. Served with rice or polenta, it’s a complete dish, packed with vitamins and very tasty.–Camille Oger

How do I supreme an orange?

To supreme the oranges, slice off the peels with a knife, then cut along the inner walls of the membranes to free the segments. When all the segments are removed, squeeze the remaining membrane over a bowl to collect the juice.

Orange-Braised Tofu

  • Quick Glance
  • Quick Glance
  • 45 M
  • 45 M
  • Serves 4
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Cut off the fennel stems and reserve the fronds, if available. Cut the bulbs in half lengthwise, then each half into 4 wedges. Do the same for the onion.

Tester tip: If there aren’t abundant fronds on the ends of the fennel bulbs, as you slice open the fennel bulbs you will likely find beautiful fine, dense feathery fronds in the center as well.

In a large skillet over medium-high heat, warm 2 tablespoons oil. Add the onion and fennel and brown on all sides, about 8 minutes.

Season with salt and pepper, add 1/2 cup of water, cover, and simmer over low heat for 15 minutes. Stir from time to time and check the water level; it must evaporate gradually. If it’s not evaporating, remove the lid from the skillet. If it evaporates too quickly, add a little more water.

While the fennel and onions are cooking, cut the tofu into 3⁄4-inch (18-mm) cubes and blot dry with paper towels. Sprinkle them with a little salt and cover them with a light dusting of starch.

In another large skillet over medium heat, warm 1 tablespoon oil. Add the tofu and cook until browned on all sides, about 10 minutes, adding more oil if necessary.

Uncover the fennel and onion, and if still firm, continue cooking until tender. If there is still a little water left, turn up the heat to dry out the pan. Pour in the wine, stirring to scrape up any brown bits from the bottom of the skillet, then add the orange juice and honey.

Gently stir in the tofu cubes and season with salt and pepper. Continue to cook gently until the liquid has largely disappeared, and the fennel is very tender, about 8 minutes more.

Add the pistachios and almonds, and stir again. Serve hot, scattered with the orange supremes and a few fennel fronds.

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Recipe Testers' Reviews

I've often put fennel and orange together with seafood, but never considered it with tofu. This recipe is a winner and something that you could easily make when you are serving vegans and non-vegans alike.

The fennel and orange sauce could just as easily be split between plates of fried tofu, fish or shellfish. You could also use ouzo, raki or arak instead of white wine, if that's what you have on hand, as they would complement the anise flavour of the fennel. My only adjustment would be to toast the nuts... in fact, toast extra and store them toasted for tossing on future salads and other dishes.

I knew that fennel and orange would be a good combination, having tried them together in salads, and we are fennel enthusiasts (not a universal fandom), so this definitely piqued my interest. With several good varieties available, I chose a blood orange and a navel (with few to no seeds).

The slight contrast in flavour and the pretty colors seemed to match this dish, attractive and with the fresh fronds topping the browned edges of the cooked ingredients. I know ‘supreming’ the segments might sound fussy (and unfamiliar if you do not do this very often, like me), but I think it is totally worth the effort and lets the delicate citrus really shine sweetly.

My fennel bulbs were largish, so I only used 3, and I had slightly misread my onion bin, mistaking a very large shallot for a red onion, so I used that and it turned out just great and the overall balance was very good. While the fennel and onions finished cooking under cover, I could brown the tofu. I recommend pressing even ‘extra firm’ blocks of tofu, then patting it dry before slicing, getting rid of excess water and making the tofu a little less likely to crumble as you brown the cut cubes in the other pan.

When you add the wine to deglaze, you pick up all the fond and coat the fennel and onion (or shallot) with a golden glaze, and the tofu will pick up these flavours when you introduce them into the fennel skillet at the end. I was restrained with salt, although generous with pepper, and sprinkled with some Maldon (flake) salt at the table. I chose a nice olive oil for this recipe since I find olive oil goes well with fennel and oranges.

This could be a main for lunch or dinner, although we served it alongside roasted mushrooms and brown rice, a menu that just happens to be meatless but most importantly was harmonious and satisfying.

The final assembly is very pretty and nice to present on a platter rather than individually plate in the kitchen. It was easily 4 to 6 servings. We served with roasted Maiitake mushrooms and brown rice.

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