Simple Asian Tofu
Author: Sweet Green Kitchen’s Jen Jones
2 – 12 ounce packages Extra Firm Tofu (or Sprouted Super Firm Tofu)
4 Tbsp Low Sodium Soy Sauce
1 Tbsp Sesame Oil
1 Tbsp Honey or Agave Syrup
1 heaping tsp Chili Garlic Sauce (found in the Asian aisle, I use the one with the Rooster)
2 Tbsp Orange Juice
1-2 Tbsp Water
2-4 Scallions – thinly sliced lengthwise, cut into 2-3 inch pieces
Canola Oil or Cooking Spray
Prepare Tofu: Remove from package and drain out liquid. Place in a rimmed plate or pie dish (to catch any liquid that releases) wrapped in a few paper towels and top with a heavy object (book, cast iron skillet, etc). Allow to press and drain out excess liquid for about 20 minutes. Note: do not skip this process, it will affect the texture of your finished dish and the tofu will not fully absorb the marinade.
Meanwhile, Prepare the Marinade: Combine remaining ingredients, up to the Canola Oil/Cooking Spray in a small bowl or directly in whatever container you will marinate the Tofu in.
After 20 minutes or so, unwrap the Tofu and slice each block into about 8 equal pieces (my last slice almost always ends up a bit slimmer). Leave the Tofu in slabs OR if you prefer, cut each slab in half lengthwise into “fingers”.
In a small casserole dish or lidded container, pour a little bit of the marinade on the bottom of the dish and then layer the sliced Tofu, pouring a bit more marinade between layers and top with all remaining marinade. Add the sliced scallions. Slosh around a bit so all the Tofu is covered in the marinade. Cover the dish and refrigerate.
Allow the Tofu to marinate in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes, all day, over night or up to 2 days. You can prepare it in the morning and it’s ready to go when you get home from work.
To cook: If pan searing, heat a non stick 12 inch skillet over medium heat coated with a bit of Canola (or other light) Oil. If baking, pre-heat oven to 375 and spray a rimmed sheet pan with Cooking Spray.
Remove Tofu from refrigerator, leaving the marinade behind, place pieces in your prepared pans. A 12 inch skillet can hold about 8 slabs or 12-16 fingers of Tofu at a time. Cook in batches, removing finished Tofu to a serving platter. Save the marinade.
Pan Searing: Over medium-high heat, cook the Tofu about 7-8 minutes on the first side, then carefully flip and cook another 3 ½ – 4 minutes until both sides are golden. If necessary, add a little more oil to the pan.
When all the Tofu has been pan seared and placed on a serving platter, pour the saved marinade into the hot skillet, lowering the heat to avoid splattering. If you wish, add a little more orange juice into the pan to help deglaze and make it a little more saucy (note there will not be a lot of sauce). Cook for a few minutes, allowing the marinade to reduce and slightly carmelize. You can then add some of the Tofu back to the pan and flip around the sauce or simply pour the sauce over the finished Tofu. The scallions can be cooked slightly with the marinade or left raw.
Oven Baking: Place all the Tofu in a single layer with a little space between each piece on the baking pan. Cook Tofu at 375 F for about 20 minutes, then flip and cook an additional 10-15 minutes, until both sides are lightly browned.
Oven Baked Simple Asian Tofu
Notes about cooking methods: Pan frying the tofu will allow the exterior to brown and carmelize a bit more, while leaving the center a bit softer. When I have the time to let the tofu rest a bit after cooking or plan ahead to serve it cold or at room temperature, I much prefer it cooked this way. However, if I am going to eat the tofu warm, I prefer the oven baked method, which will result in tofu that is a little drier (but not in a bad way) and firmer. Also, pan frying requires a bit more of your time and presence as you need to keep an eye on things, whereas if you oven bake, you can just pop it in and forget about it for a little while. Either way, it’s delicious and a frequent meal in our home. Enjoy