Marinades easily, simply, & brilliantly get tofu to “pop” with flavor. If you get the marinade going ahead of time, they’re also fast.
Squeeze or drain the tofu very well beforehand, slice it (see below), put in a watertight lunch container with the marinade ingredients, and refrigerate for 1/2 hour or more (1 hour is better), shaking or turning upside-down every 15-30 min (you can even open the container up and rearrange things to help ensure maximum absorption).
To pan-sear: Cut tofu into 3/4-inch cubes and marinade. Once marinaded, arrange, sans oil, in your favorite super-nonstick, tofu-friendly pan and sear each side until firm and crunchy (should be the color of medium to well-done toast, but not burnt).
To bake: Preheat oven to 400° F. Cut tofu into 1/2 slices, then slice crosswise into strips 1/4 to 3/8 inches wide and 2 to 3 inches long. Prick on both sides with a fork, marinade, then place in a nonstick or lightly-oiled baking sheet, reserving any unabsorbed marinade if serving tofu on its own. Cover sheet with parchment paper or foil and bake 30-45+ minutes (depending on how dry you want it), turning ever 15 min or so. If serving tofu on its own, after baking, add back the reserved liquid and test seasoning to add more sauce or herbs as necessary.
- 1-6 – Basic Baked Tofu (also: Spicy, Sweet & Sour, Chipotle, Barbecue, and Southern Tofu)
- 7 – Lemon-Herb Tofu
- 8 – Emily’s Magical Baked Tofu
- 9 – Spicy Asian Tofu
- 10 – Easy “Italian” Tofu
- 11 – Extra: Tangerine Tofu
- Timing: I like to put together the marinade before going out on a run or hike; after I’ve cleaned up, the tofu is ready to cook for an easy dinner, along with rice (or pasta) and a salad.
- Tofu: I like Trader Joe’s firm tofu because it’s in 2 containers for easy halving and is more amicable to getting the juice REALLY pressed out of it. For Azumaya tofu I cut out the top label along the inner edge of the tofu container, then use the plastic to press the tofu down while I squeeze from the sides. Instead of squeezing, the tofu-wary &/or faint of heart can just slice the tofu and put it between two plates, bottom plate tilted to drain, with some books on top (takes longer, though).
- Meat Eaters: Most of these are equally superb with tofu or chicken, but if you’re going with real meat, cut the soy sauce down by half, add another tablespoon of oil, and marinade overnight or up to 3 days, depending on how juicy and tender you want the results to be. For longer-marinaded items slated for the barbecue, be careful not to cook at too high a heat, or the juicy middles will stay undercooked while the outsides burn. Easy solution: halve breasts lengthwise-flatwise before marinading. Obviously, always discard marinade used for meat; never use it for anything afterward. If you need additional marinade, make a separate batch that won’t touch the raw stuff.