Here’s the easy way to marinate tofu without wasting a bunch of soy sauce and other ingredients: put it right back into the container it came from. I got this tip from the The Real Food Daily Cookbook by Ann Gentry, owner of the vegan LA restaurants of the same name. While my tofu marinade is similar to hers, it’s a standard recipe I’ve made for a long time.
I didn’t take a picture of the first step, pressing the tofu. Empty the containers and put the tofu in something leak-proof (I used a glass baking dish) with a cloth towel above and below the tofu and a heavy object (in my case, another glass dish with a couple of cookbooks in it) on top for an hour or so. The towels will absorb water from the tofu as it’s pressed out. You could use paper towels for this purpose, or you could be a little green and use cloth.
To be honest pressing the tofu isn’t strictly necessary, especially if you are using extra-firm tofu. I skip it when I’m pressed for time (no pun intended). For both pressing and marinating, the amount of time spent is quite flexible. More time is better, but you’ll still end up with a good meal if you speed things up. Even no pressing and half hour in a marinade will perk up the tofu quite a bit.
Once the tofu is pressed, it’s time to marinate it. Put the tofu blocks back in the empty containers and fill them with marinade. The marinade recipe is forgiving. You don’t necessarily have to measure everything, though I have today for you. Just make enough to come to or slightly above the top level of the tofu in the container. Use wheat-free tamari like San-J Organic Gluten Free Tamari to make the recipe gluten-free.
Marinate the tofu for as much time as you have. If you are organized, it could be overnight, if this was an afternoon inspiration for dinner, it could be an hour. The longer the tofu sits the more flavor it will pick up. Here’s the recipe for the marinade:
- 2 blocks firm or extra-firm tofu (usually 12 or 14 ounces) in plastic tubs.
- ⅔ cup tamari
- ¼ cup brown rice vinegar
- ¼ cup toasted sesame oil
- 4-5 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
- ¼ cup ginger root, peeled and minced
- Remove the tofu from the containers and drain: save the containers to use for marinating the tofu.
- Press the tofu for at least one hour. Place it in a container with cloth (or paper) towels above and below the tofu, and a heavy object on top. I put a cloth in a glass baking dish, put the blocks of tofu on the cloth, cover the tofu with another cloth. Then I put a second baking dish with something heavy in it on top of that.
- Pressing the tofu gives it a firmer texture and allows it to absorb more marinade. Pressing can be skipped if you are short on time or if you are using extra-firm tofu and feel it’s already firm enough.
- Peel and mince the garlic and ginger.
- Measure together all the liquid ingredients.
- Put the tofu back into the empty plastic tubs.
- Pour the liquid ingredients over the tofu.
- Add the minced ginger and garlic.
- You should have about enough marinade to reach the top of the tofu or cover it slightly. If not, add a little more liquid to the marinade.
- Leave the tofu to marinate for a few hours or up to one day. If you have less time even a half hour marinating will give it some flavor.
- Remove the tofu from the marinade. I usually reserve the marinade to flavor another dish.
- Cut the tofu. I cut each block in half, then make shallow horizontal slices while keeping the tofu stacked up as one block. Then I cut each half block diagonally, ending up with triangles.
- Now your tofu can be either baked or fried. To bake:
- Preheat oven to 400.
- Put parchment paper on a baking sheet.
- Put the tofu triangles on the parchment paper.
- Bake for 20 minutes, flipping the tofu after 10 minutes.
- To fry: stir-fry in a wok with vegetable oil, stirring continuously for five or ten minutes until the tofu is browned and crispy. You’ll have best results with a wok that’s either very well-seasoned or nonstick.
And here’s the marinated tofu ready to bake:
The final product, ready to use in a stir-fry or just to eat as is: