If anyone is unsure about trying tofu, give this recipe a try! Tofu is the perfect food for marinating as it readily soaks up flavors, and once baked takes on a lovely chewy texture. If you cut the tofu into thin slabs, it makes a nice sandwich filling; if you cut it into cubes, it’s great thrown into a stir-fry. But once I have smelled this baking for an hour, it’s all I can do not to gobble it all up immediately just as it is! For that reason, I always double or triple this recipe. Joanne Stepaniak deserves the credit for this delicious marinade, which can be found in her cookbook Vegan Vittles.
- 2 Tbsp tamari or soy sauce
- 1 1/2 Tbsp pure maple syrup
- 1 Tbsp seasoned rice vinegar (you can substitute regular white vinegar for this)
- 1 Tbsp fresh gingerroot, grated or minced (or 1/2 tsp ground ginger)
- 1 Tbsp toasted sesame oil*
- 2 cloves garlic, crushed or minced
- 1 pound firm or extra-firm tofu (use extra-firm if you can find it)**
Drain the tofu, and then press it by sandwiching it between two clean plates. Set something moderately heavy on top of the top plate and let it sit for 5-10 minutes. Choose an object heavy enough to push water out of the tofu but not so heavy that it crushes it. A large can of tomatoes is a good choice. When you notice water pooling around the tofu, pour it off and pat it dry with a clean kitchen towel (or paper towel). This is not as complicated as it sounds, and you can mix up the marinade ingredients while you are pressing your tofu.
Combine marinade ingredients in a bowl or liquid measuring cup. Then cut the pressed tofu into any shape you desire! You can cut it into cubes, slabs, or triangles. (To make triangles, like those pictured above, simply cut the block of tofu in half so that you have 2 equal slabs. Then cut each slab into quarters, and cut each quarter across diagonally to form triangles.) Lay tofu in the bottom of a container and pour marinade over the top, being careful to cover every inch of tofu. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, or overnight if you wish. Turn tofu over once or twice during this time so that all sides marinate equally.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Drain marinade off of tofu and save for another use.*** Place marinated tofu pieces in a single layer on a lightly oiled or sprayed baking sheet. Bake for about 1 hour, flipping tofu after 30 minutes. Let stand at least 5 minutes before serving. Serve hot or cold.
*Don’t skip the toasted sesame oil – it is really a key flavor in this marinade! You can find it at some supermarkets, Asian food stores, or health food stores. I got mine from Trader Joe’s.
**Make sure to use regular tofu, found in the refrigerated section of the supermarket and packed in water (as opposed to silken tofu, which is found in aseptic packaging on a supermarket shelf).
***I usually freeze the leftover marinade in a plastic container, and thaw it out by running hot water over the container when I want to use it again. It makes a good stir-fry sauce – just whisk 1-2 Tbsp cornstarch into the sauce and heat it gently on the stove until it thickens. You can also re-use the marinade for your next batch of tofu!