Bring on the ultimate comfort food… crispy sweet and sour tofu with rice is as simple and easy as it gets!
To make the sauce, mix cornstarch and water in a small bowl and set aside.
In a small saucepan, heat 2 teaspoons of vegetable oil over medium-low heat. Add minced garlic, ginger, and chili pepper flakes. Stir for 30 seconds to 1 minute until fragrant, being careful not to burn the garlic or ginger. Add in the remaining sauce ingredients and whisk together over medium heat until just bubbling. Then whisk in the cornstarch and water mixture. Whisk frequently for 10 to 12 minutes until thickened and reduced. Remove from the heat and set aside while you prepare the crispy tofu.
Heat vegetable oil in a heavy bottomed pot to 355°F to 365°F.
Prepare the batter by combining rice flour, cornstarch, sea salt, garlic powder, and ground black pepper together in a mixing bowl. Do not add the cold soda water until your frying oil is ready.
When you’re ready to fry, stir in soda water to the flour mixture and combine well. If the mixture seems too thin, add a little bit more rice flour and combine. It should be a smooth, slightly thick pancake batter consistency. You want it to stick and coat the cubes of tofu.
Place the tofu cubes in the batter and toss to coat evenly. Drop each one at a time in the frying oil delicately. Fry in batches of 5 to 6 pieces and do not overcrowd the pot.
Fry for 2 to 2 1/2 minutes. If some stick together, you can gently separate them in the frying oil with a slotted fryer spoon. Remove crispy tofu from the oil with the slotted spoon and let them sit on paper towel to absorb excess oil. Continue this process with remaining tofu cubes.
Heat up the sauce again if needed right before serving. In 2 to 3 batches, you can coat the crispy tofu with sauce by adding some sauce to a large bowl and tossing crispy tofu cubes until coated evenly. Serve over rice or vegetables.
If you want to bake the tofu, toss the cubes in 2 tablespoons of cornstarch in a large bowl and lay out in an even layer slightly spaced apart on a large parchment lined baking sheet. Bake in a preheated 425°F oven for 30 to 40 minutes until crispy and golden brown. Finish by coating in warm sweet and sour sauce right before serving!