For some reason I am kind of nervous about giving you my tofu recipe, mainly because what if you make it and you don’t like it? Eeep! I know a lot of meat eaters who are all “I HATE TOFU. I DON’T KNOW HOW YOU CAN EAT IT. IT’S SO DISGUSTING. [GAGGING NOISE]”
In my opinion, hating tofu is like hating, say, noodles or rice or lettuce. It is mainly just a vehicle for other flavors, not so much a thing in itself. So the best way to make it is to give it a lot of flavors that you like. Here’s how I do it:
1. Prepare your tofu to accept the awesome wealth of flavors you are about to bestow on it.
Freeze it at least overnight. That’s right, just take that block of tofu floating in the watery stuff and pop it in the freezer as is.
Then thaw it out the day you want to use it. I leave it in the sink when I leave for work in the morning.
When you’re ready to start cooking, you now have to drain the tofu. Put the block on a plate or some such and just press down with your hands. Maybe give it a little squeeze from the sides, too. Tons of water should be pouring off that plate, so I hope you’re standing near the sink.
What you’re doing here is giving it a more spongy texture by freezing and then emptying out all the little holes in the sponge-like structure to make room for the marinade to soak in. Get that tofu primed and ready, people, or the marinade just won’t work as well.
2. Marinate it in excellence.
2 tbsp sesame oil
2 cloves of garlic, minced
a thumb-sized hunk of ginger root, minced
a splash of soy sauce (I don’t like things too salty or too overwhelmed by soy, so I go easy. Use your judgment here.)
a squeeze of Sriracha (dude, it goes with everything)
Mix this all up in a big bowl.
Take your tofu block and cut it into cubes about 3/4 inch to 1 inch in size. I get 40 cubes per block; 8 cubes is a serving size.
Toss the tofu cubes carefully in the marinade, trying not to break them up. They’ll be kind of fragile from the freezing and squeezing ordeal but if they break up it’s no biggie. You can call it rustic.
The tofu should be soaking up the marinade like crazy – in a few seconds there won’t be any liquid left in the bowl. Guess what? You can pop that in the oven right away! Thanks to your freezing, squeezing, and general spongification of the tofu, it soaks the marinade right up and you don’t need to leave it sitting in the fridge all day like you have nothing better to do than wait.
3. Bake it up!
450 degrees F, 20-25 minutes.
I use a baking sheet lined with foil. No need to grease or spray it with anything. Just dump the cubes and go. They won’t stick. Isn’t this easy?
If you enjoy things that are high maintenance, feel free to flip the cubes over halfway through or something, or organize them in neat rows. But if you don’t do that it won’t matter.
The cubes should be golden brown with maybe some darker brown edges here and there, soft on the inside and crisper/chewier on the outside.
4. Serve it up!
I like to serve it with either brown rice or quinoa plus roasted or steamed veggies. I can steam the veggies in the steamer tray that goes on my rice cooker or I can put some veggies alongside the tofu on my baking tray. It’s all very low maintenance – just use what you have on hand and then either use the oven that’s already baking your tofu or the rice cooker that’s already steaming your rice or quinoa. Just be sure not to overcook the veggies – they only need 5-6 minutes in the steamer tray or the hot oven.
My favorite other thing to serve with this stuff is a quick peanut sauce!
BONUS PEANUT SAUCE RECIPE:
Here’s all you need:
big honkin’ glob of peanut butter
small splash of soy sauce
big splash of rice vinegar
big squeeze of Sriracha
big squeeze of honey
Stir together, even though it looks like they aren’t going to come together and you think you might have a messy disaster on your hands, don’t worry. It will come together. When it combines smoothly, thin it out with as much water as you want to make the desired viscosity. Taste and adjust ingredients as necessary. It’s not highly scientific or anything, just highly delicious.
I eat variations on this meal all the damned time. The tofu cubes work really well in salads, wraps, sandwiches, and so on, too. You can also vary the flavor profile however you like — the important bit here is the freeze-and-squeeze technique. That’ll get you everywhere.