I know what you’re going to say, I’ve heard it before. But before you know what it is, tell me you’re mouth isn’t watering for that golden, crispy, no doubt crunchy image above.
It’s baked tofu. So the first thing you are asking yourself is WHY? Why would anyone bother? Because it’s delicious, flavorful (if you want it to be), a decent source of protein and not really bad for you in any way.
Sometimes I purchase baked tofu to pack in my lunches. As the market was out of my usual (slightly spicy) flavor I was stuck with ‘savory’ this week. Hmmmm what, exactly, does savory taste like. Well to use a four letter word… savory tastes BLAH.
So of course I started thinking, why can’t I just make my own? It seems like that’s always the answer. Well it turns out that baked tofu is easy to prepare and tastes much better when you spice to your own tastes. For this first batch I went pretty traditional. I stirred together some soy sauce, ponzu sauce and garlic infused olive oil. To that I added cayenne, celery seed, and granulated onion.
But wait, I should start at the beginning. To get anything crisp when you bake it, it’s got to be reasonably dry. Use extra firm tofu, drain it, wrap it in paper towels, put it on a plate in the refrigerator. Check the paper towels every hour our so and change them when they are saturated. You want to draw the excess moisture out of the tofu. Once you’re satisfied with the dryness slice it or cube it. If you want a lot of crisp, slice it thin and go for more surface area. If you are going to add it to something (salad or soup) you could cube it at this point. Put it in a flat dish or zip top bag and pour the marinade over it. Make sure to turn it to get it evenly covered. Let it marinate in the refrigerator for 1-6 hours.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and spay a baking sheet lightly with non-stick spray. Drain the excess marinade and place it in a single layer on the baking sheet. Bake it for about 30 minutes turning halfway. If you’re making cubes you may want to turn them more often. Oh and you can keep that marinade. Unlike a meat marinade this one hasn’t been exposed to anything potentially dangerous and depending on the flavors, it may make a great dipping sauce.
The tofu will be crisp when you take it out of the oven, enjoy! It will keep its flavor but not crispness when refrigerated. Eat it within a few days.
The possibilities for using it after it’s baked are numerous! And the flavor possibilities, well… I’ve already started a list. My top two hot madras curry and black pepper and lemon! I’ll let you know how they turn out.
Until next time, cook to enjoy your unique tastes.
Release your Bon Vivant and savor your life!