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February 11, 2010 in 100 calorie snack, vegan, vegetarian8 comments

roasted tofu

roasted tofu

About damn time we talked about tofu here, isn’t it? I mean, right up top there, it says “vegetarian, whole foods, and local foods recipes.” And yet, it’s taken all these months for humble tofu to even get a mention. Let’s rectify that now.

You can do this tofu roasted in a sesame and soy marinade in bite-sized pieces or in planks for sandwiches. Chewy and salty, with that smoky depth sesame lends, this roasted tofu is pretty irresistible. I have to forcefully resist just snacking on it as is until it’s all gone, it’s that good. Toss the bits into salads, or fried rice, or whatever strikes your fancy.

why should i care about bean curd?

Tofu’s the much-maligned vegetarian staple, inexorably linked with dirty hippies and horribly inappropriate preparations. Let’s run down some objections to tofu and then airily explain them away.

block of extra firm tofu

It’s a brick! That’s unnatural. I don’t eat square foods.

True, tofu often comes in blocks. However, it’s pretty natural. It’s just a solid form of soy milk, a liquid that comes from processing soybeans. I would say the technical term, that it’s coagulated soy milk, but that will probably just drive you further away. ;-) Chinese folks have been eating it for a few thousand years.

Tofu has no taste.

Absolutely true. Plain tofu has very little flavor. You know what’s neat about a food that has no taste? It becomes a vehicle for any flavor you want to attach to it. Tofu will soak up anything you add to it, be it soy sauce in a stir fry or honey in a smoothie.

little chiclets of tofu, about to marinate

Tofu triggers my texture issues.

Many people don’t like the silky, slightly gelatinous feel of tofu in its natural or slightly cooked state. While I’ve grown to kind of like that, I prefer to prepare tofu in ways that change that natural texture. Frozen and thawed tofu takes on a chewy, slightly spongy texture reminiscent of ground beef. I like to crumble thawed frozen tofu into stir fries, for instance. Silken tofus are used in desserts or blended into thick drinks, and have a smooth, creamy texture.

marinated tofu, spread on baking sheet

Tofu is too hard to prepare.

Some preparations are extra work; others, like tossing thawed frozen tofu crumbles into a stir fry, are effortless. This roasted tofu here is the same procedure as making roasted vegetables and yields yummy bites great for salads or sandwiches.

Thus ends the tofu lecture. I promise I’ll never do it again.

pressing tofu

I learned this method of pressing tofu (to get the excess liquid out) from Jenne Lemlin’s Vegetarian Classics: 300 Essential and Easy Recipes for Every Meal, which also happens to be the book I adapted this roasted tofu recipe from.

It’s way quicker than the “put a heavy book on top of it to press it for several hours” method you’ve probably heard of.

Here’s what you do:

Cut the block of tofu into slices the width you plan to cook. If cubing for a stir fry, this will be about half an inch. For the roasted tofu, I like making it in little chiclet-sized squares, so I cut it about a quarter-inch thick.

sliced tofu, pressing in a towel

Put the slices on a paper towel or lint-free towel, then either put another paper towel on top or fold the cloth towel over, and press gently on the tofu pieces to release their liquid. Do this again, if you like, moving the tofu to a dry towel for the repeat.

That’s pretty much it. You can press again after cutting up the tofu into smaller pieces if you want it super dry. I’m really happy with this method of pressing tofu. It’s quick and not messy.

roasted tofu

Adapted from Vegetarian Classics: 300 Essential and Easy Recipes for Every Meal by Jeanne Lemlin.

oven: 450 degrees
prep: 40 minutes
cooking time: 25–30 minutes

    1 (14 to 16 ounce) block of extra-firm tofu
    1 tablespoon sesame oil
    1½ tablespoons tamari or soy sauce
    1 tablespoon rice vinegar

Cut tofu into ¼-inch slices. Lay out slices on a towel (lint-free cloth or paper), fold over or put another towel on top, and press gently on the tofu to get the liquid out. Repeat using dry area of the towel. Cut pressed tofu slices into ½-inch squares for bite-sized roasted tofu. If you’d like slabs to put in sandwiches, leave as is.

marinade for roasted tofu

In a shallow dish such as a pie plate, whisk together the sesame oil, soy sauce, and rice vinegar. Add the cut up tofu, and with a wide spatula, gently mix to coat the tofu pieces with the mixture.

little chiclets of tofu, marinating

Marinate 30 minutes. Letting it sit out is fine. If you’re going to let it marinate longer (up to 24 hours), cover and refrigerate. Note: I’ve tried this with a 30-minute marinade and 24 hours. I preferred the tofu that had been marinated 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 450 degrees near end of marinating time.

roasted tofu, just out of the oven

Spread the marinated tofu pieces on a baking sheet and cook for 25-30 minutes, flipping once halfway through.

Note: If you can limit yourself to about 90g (just under a serving), this is a 100-calorie snack food.

Nutrition information: 126 calories; 9.2g fat; 0mg cholesterol; 346mg sodium; 2.4g carbohydrate; 0g fiber; 0.6g sugars; 10g protein; 0% vitamin A; 1% vitamin C; 17% calcium; 11% iron

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your comments

  1. Anu says:

    Thanks for posting! I’m definitely going to try your way of getting the water out. Never thought to press after cutting. Will be trying this recipe.

  2. Julianne says:

    Made it tonight. It was yummy and irresistible.

    What do you usually put it in/cook with it? I was going to do noodles, but it ended up an appetizer.

    Next time I must make two tofu bricks at once. Does it change the cooking time if you do two trays in the oven?

  3. Soma says:

    I absolutely love Tofu, esp. the no taste factor.. seems so light and comforting sometimes. Nicely done

    Amy thanks a bunch for the horseradish!! It was a joy to find the packet at my doorstep. Sorry could not write to you before this.. Will make something with it soon.

  4. Mandalynn says:

    I love tofu! Pei Wei does a tofu-teryaki that seems to start out with this type of prep! I am so going to make this!!!

  5. Mandalynn says:

    Linda and I made this tonight and added it to some veggie stir-fry….quite tasty! I will be making this again.

  6. Jane says:

    I love tofu!!!
    My family seems not to understand but I really enjoy eating them. I’m really clueless of other ways cooking them. I just fry them plainly. Now, I’m ready to try new methods. I think I’ll be putting some veggies and my favorite sauce (lemon with soy sauce) to this dish.

    Thanks

  7. Clay says:

    Thanks for posting this. I’ve been on a vegan kick for the past two years now and even though it was always a struggle trying to find good vegan recipes, learning how to work with tofu was the most difficult for me! I’ve wasted plenty blocks of it, trying to make it come out good! I appreciate any advice and recipes I can get.

    I have found that roasted tofu (oven baked) is the way to go for the tofu to really absorb the flavors.

    As far as draining tofu, everybody should look into a tofu press, which works wonders! I got one for Christmas and have really enjoyed it. People make it seem like it’s easy to just drain tofu with papertowels but a block of it can go through a lot!!! :)

    If you are going to drain it by hand, I recommend freezing it and then thawing it out. It gives it an almost tough texture, and you can literally squeeze like a sponge over your sink and watch the water pour out. I personally don’t like the texture of it frozen and then thawed but a lot of people do.

    The press is a very simple design, and I’m glad I got one. They say it takes 3 hours to drain a block, but I’ve noticed you can get about 90% of the water out within 30 minutes!! I love mine.

    Of course, you can also buy tofu that isn’t packaged in water, but I’ve noticed tofu packaged in water and then drained yourself, does absorb flavor better.

    Hope to find more recipes on your site.

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