This quick meal features tofu that's crispy around the edges and tender on the inside, coated in a sweet and salty marinade including soy sauce, light brown sugar, and ground Szechuan peppercorns. The perfect partner? Garlicky asparagus, which also gets flavor from Chinese five spice and toasted sesame oil. Shaking the tofu in a resealable container with the soy sauce mixture is the best way to ensure that it's evenly coated; reserving some of the mixture for drizzling on the finished dish adds a double-dose of flavor. Any leftover asparagus and tofu can be reheated in the air fryer.

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Credit: Photo by Jennifer Causey / Prop Styling by Julia Bayless / Food Styling by Ruth Blackburn

Recipe Summary

active:
25 mins
total:
50 mins
Servings:
4
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Ingredients

Ingredient Checklist

Directions

Instructions Checklist
  • Stir together soy sauce, brown sugar, and Szechuan pepper in a large resealable container until sugar is dissolved. Transfer 2 1/2 tablespoons soy mixture to a small bowl; reserve for serving. Pat tofu dry with paper towels; add to remaining soy mixture in large container. Seal container, and shake gently to combine. Let stand at room temperature 10 minutes. Re-shake gently until tofu is evenly coated with soy mixture. Add cornstarch and 1 teaspoon each of the sesame oil and salt to tofu in container; seal container, and shake gently to combine.

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  • Preheat an air fryer to 400°F for 5 minutes. Remove tofu from soy mixture, letting excess drip off. Arrange tofu in a single layer in air fryer basket. Cook until golden and crispy, about 20 minutes, flipping tofu once halfway through cook time. Transfer tofu to a plate. Reduce air fryer temperature to 375°F.

  • Toss together asparagus, garlic, five spice, and remaining 1 teaspoon sesame oil and 1/2 teaspoon salt in a large bowl. Arrange asparagus evenly in air fryer basket. Cook at 375°F until just tender, about 6 minutes, shaking basket once halfway through cook time. Transfer asparagus to plate with tofu. Sprinkle evenly with sesame seeds. Drizzle with reserved soy mixture. Garnish with cilantro. Serve.

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