Lots of people have a love-hate relationship with tofu. It’s something I was wary of for a long time, but I’ve come around to the sheer versatility of tofu as an ingredient. With some recipes it is an anonymous protein component, with others it is the star of the show.
Silken tofu is great for whizzing up for egg-free mayonnaise, or creating a cheesecake-like dessert. It falls to bits quickly, and is an excellent bulking ingredient.
Tofu can be used to create a breakfast that looks and feels like scrambled egg – excellent if you don’t eat eggs.
Freezing firm tofu then defrosting it to cook, adds another element. The texture changes significantly and some people think it looks and feels like cooked chicken breast. Firm tofu lends itself to marinating and baking, as the marinating creates the flavour and the baking gives it a textural character more akin to a roasted vegetable, than a slice of slimy white stuff.
The key to crisp baked tofu is pressing the water out of the block before you start. Some people sit their tofu in a colander, and put something heavy on it for a couple of hours. I don’t have the patience for this. I fold a couple of paper towels on a board, then systematically press down gently on the block, turning it over a few times, until it no longer seeps when pressed.
Then I slice it into 1cm rectangles, and pat each one dry. After that, it’s into the marinade for as long as I’ve got time for, then into a sprayed baking dish and a hot oven.
The recipe below is a favourite, because it uses standard pantry and fridge ingredients. The peanut butter gives it a slightly thick, gluggy consistency, which bakes crisp and thick, a bit like a batter. If you don’t eat peanut butter, you could swap this out for almond butter or tahini, although this will change the flavour.
Spicy baked Tofu (serves 2-3)
2 tbsp apple cider vinegar 2 tbsp tomato sauce
2 tbsp peanut butter 1 tbsp soy sauce
1 tsp sesame oil 1 clove garlic, crushed
½ tsp ground ginger ½ tsp black pepper
1 block firm tofu (275 – 300g)
Press your tofu as described above. Slice into 1cm rectangles and place in a shallow flat dish.
In a microwave-safe bowl, combine the rest of the ingredients. Heat for 20 seconds in the microwave to soften the peanut butter, and mix well.
Pour sauce over the tofu, gently turning to cover. Marinate for at least an hour, (overnight if you are really organised) in the fridge.
Preheat oven to 210◦C. Line a baking tray with baking paper, and gently lift the tofu slices out of the marinade and onto the tray. Bake for 15 minutes. Remove from oven, turn slices over, and spread over the last of the marinade. Bake for a further 10-15 minutes or until crispy.