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The Secret to Mastering All Tofu Recipes

March 19, 2014

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Tofu got a bad rap in its early days as a bland, tasteless necessity of a vegetarian diet. Thankfully, we’ve come a long way since then, and you can now find all sorts of exciting and delicious ways to prepare tofu. This is especially fortunate because it’s such an inexpensive and excellent source of protein.

Tofu is made from fermented soy, and you can be purchased in a variety of forms including silken, soft, firm and extra firm. Most major grocery stores stock it in 1-pound blocks packed in water.

At first glance, tofu can look a bit off-putting. Looking at a jiggly white block floating in a few inches of water, it’s pretty difficult to think of it as a delicious and appealing dish. But with a little imagination, and not very much effort at all, you can turn it into a satisfying, lip-smacking meal! 

My favorite way to serve tofu is marinated and grilled over a bed of greens and brown rice. Grilling tofu is great, because you don’t have to worry about it cooking all the way through like chicken or pork. Instead, the tofu just needs to be flavored and warmed throughout before serving. If you’re ready to add a new cooking technique to your repertoire, and feel up to the tofu challenge, follow these simple steps to try my grilling technique. Keep in mind that this cooking method works best with firm or extra firm tofu. 

Step One: Drain

Since the tofu is packaged in water to keep it fresh, it will need to be drained slightly before you can prepare it for grilling. Remove the entire block of tofu from the package and place it on a cutting board. Place another small cutting board, or flat plate on top the tofu, and lift both boards on one end so that they are at an angle, with the lowest end draining into the sink. Press down gently to extract the water for about 3 or 4 minutes.

Step Two: Cut

Once you have drained all of the excess water from the tofu, gently remove the top cutting board. Using a very sharp knife, slice the tofu into 1 inch thick, 2 inch long pieces. I find that it’s easiest to cut the tofu vertically at first, and then slice each piece into two or three smaller pieces.

Step Three: Dry

Use a paper towel to pat each of the pieces of tofu dry. It’s important to make sure they are dry before marinating them to ensure that they are able to soak up as much flavor from the marinade as possible!

Step Four: Marinate

Place the tofu in a glass baking dish, and then add all of the flavors that you plan to use as marinade. I like to keep it simple with soy or tamari sauce, a bit of miso paste, and sesame oil, but you could use any flavoring that you like such as teriyaki or even your favorite steak and chicken marinade. Once all the pieces of tofu are completely covered by the marinade,  cover the dish with plastic wrap and place the dish in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.

Step Five: Grill

Heat a grill pan or frying pan over medium-high heat. Test the heat by adding a few drops of water to the pan to see if they sizzle. Once the pan is hot, add about a tablespoon of oil (I prefer canola because of it’s high smoking point, but you could also use olive oil or grape seed oil) and coat the bottom of the pan completely. Add the tofu to the pan and cook for about 3 minutes per side or until the sides start to look brown and slightly caramelized.

Step Six: Serve

To serve the grilled tofu, place 3 or 4 pieces on a bed of brown rice and steamed bok choy or kale. Sprinkle a dash of soy sauce and toasted sesame seeds on top, then serve!

Do you cook tofu often? What is your favorite way to serve it?