If serving with rice and broccoli, begin preparing at this time. Cook the rice on the stovetop, in the Instant Pot, or in a rice cooker. Steam the broccoli in a steamer basket set over boiling water for ~4-6 minutes. Otherwise, move onto the next step.
Drain tofu and wrap it in a clean, absorbent towel. Set something heavy on top to absorb excess moisture, such as a cast iron skillet (or use a tofu press). Let rest for about 10 minutes.
Prep/chop green onions, garlic, and ginger at this time. Set aside.
While tofu is pressing, prepare stir-fry sauce by combining sesame oil, cornstarch, minced garlic, minced ginger, rice vinegar, maple syrup, tamari or soy sauce, and water in a small mixing bowl and whisk thoroughly to combine. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed (I left mine as is).
Heat a large metal or cast iron skillet (mine is 10”) over medium heat. In the meantime, unwrap tofu and cut into even pieces, about 3/4-inch cubes (see photo).
Add tofu to a shallow mixing bowl (see photo) and top with 3 Tbsp tamari or soy sauce, 1 tsp chili garlic sauce, 1 tsp sesame oil, and 1 Tbsp maple syrup (adjust amounts if altering number of servings // DO NOT ADD CORNSTARCH AT THIS TIME). Toss to combine. Let rest 2-3 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Use a slotted spoon or fork to transfer tofu to a quart-size or large freezer bag (or tupperware container), leaving the remaining marinade behind (can be drizzled over rice and broccoli for serving). Add cornstarch 1 Tbsp at a time and toss to coat. Continue adding more cornstarch and tossing until tofu is coated in a gummy, white layer - about 4-5 Tbsp (adjust amount if altering number of servings).
To the hot skillet, add 2 Tbsp neutral oil (adjust amount if altering number of servings) and let warm for 30 seconds. Then use a slotted spoon or fork to add tofu to the pan (leaving any excess cornstarch behind).
Cook tofu on all sides for ~1 minute, or until light golden brown. You don’t want it blackened or burned, as you’ll be cooking it again later with the sauce. Aim for a consistent golden brown crust (see photo). Remove tofu from pan as it’s finished browning. Set aside. NOTE: If you prefer firmer / crispier tofu, option at this time to transfer tofu to a 375 degree F (190 C) oven in a cast iron pan or parchment-lined baking sheet and bake for 10-15 minutes (or more) to dry it out. This will create a firmer, chewier tofu in the final dish. However, it does make it more than a 30 minute recipe.
Return skillet to burner and increase heat to medium-high. Add 1 Tbsp sesame oil (adjust amount if altering number of servings), chopped green onions, and dried red chilies. Sauté for 1-2 minutes, stirring frequently.
Add the sauce and tofu. Cook, stirring frequently, to coat the tofu and vegetables for 1-2 minutes, or until warmed through and the sauce has slightly thickened (see photo).
Remove pan from heat and add sesame seeds (optional). Toss to coat.
Serve with rice and steamed broccoli (optional), or other desired sides. Best when fresh, though leftovers keep for 2-3 days in the refrigerator. Reheat on the stovetop or microwave.
* Recipe loosely adapted from Pure Wow and Food.com. Tofu method adapted from The Kitchn. * Nutrition information is a rough estimate calculated without additional sides, such as rice or broccoli.