Friday, 24 May 2013

Baking & Frying Tofu, Part 2 of: "Treat Me Right", The Tofu Story (with recipe!)

Welcome to Part 2 of our exploration of tofu and what to do with it. Hopefully you're been following along (come on guys, there's only one other part to read), but in case you haven't, the PREVIOUS episode concerned why people say they don't like tofu, the types of tofu and my tofu buying recommendations. If you haven't read it, you may want to give it a quick glance-over (or even a slow, considered read, followed by thoughtful comments and thanks) before starting here. Otherwise, if you've already read it or, like me, HATE reading instruction manuals, dive on in!

Without a doubt, one of the easiest things to do with tofu is to just season and bake it. Isn't that the easiest way to prepare anything?

Though you can technically bake any tofu, baking tofu is essentially "quick marinating" it: rather than leaving it in the fridge overnight or for a few days, you chuck it in the oven and all the molecules get all excited and jump around and... yeah, I'm not a scientist. Anyway, as such, it is best to use firm (or harder) tofu for baking tofu, as anything softer than that won't soak up (and hold) the marinade.

Rather than attempting my own recipe, I am deferring to Dreena Burton, whose Cumin Lime Tofu (from her third book, "eat, drink and be vegan" (which is actually my Mum's all-time favourite cookbook ever)) is one of my favourite dishes.

I will admit that I was very skeptical when I first read Dreena's recipe for this: "won't it taste like tofu? Won't it be soggy?"

Oh me of little faith.

It's essentially a matter of making the marinade in the baking dish, mixing it up, coating the tofu (which doesn't even have to be pressed!), and baking it. If you're still not quite accustomed to tofu (though the rather bold marinade does disguise it somewhat), use a good quality tofu to ensure that there's as little taste as possible (and what taste there is is delicious!). This is also a good one for making a large batch of and then storing the leftovers in the fridge for lunch or throwing in a stirfry or salad the next day.

The slices; covered in marinade; after the first 15 minutes; and DONE!

Cumin-Lime Tofu
This is another very simple tofu dish that yields bold, baked-in flavors. The lime juice, cumin, and touch of cayenne are in every bite, and the addition of pumpkin seeds adds just the right amount of crunch.

Makes 4 servings, about 24 squares.

1/4 cup freshly squeezed lime juice
1 1/2 -2 tbsp agave syrup
1 1/2 tbsp tamari
3/4 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp curry powder
1/8 tsp allspice
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp sea salt
1 1/2 tbsp olive oil
1 pkg (12 oz/350g) firm or extra firm tofu, cut in half lengthwise then sliced into 1/4 - 1/2 inch thick squares, and patted to remove excess moisture 
2-3 tbsp raw or pre-roasted pumpkin seeds (or pistachios, lightly chopped)

Preheat oven to 375 F/190 C. In an 8 x 12 baking dish, combine all ingredients except tofu and pumpkin seeds stir to mix well. Add tofu and turn to coat each side.  Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 15 minutes. Remove from oven, turn tofu slices, sprinkle on pumpkin seeds and return to oven to bake for another 13-15 minutes, until tofu has soaked up most of the marinade. Serve warm, pouring any remaining marinade/spices over tofu.

I made this the other night and had it in a wrap with sauteed broccoli, homemade salsa, and a tart cashew & pepita cream. It was super delicious. Otherwise, you can just have it on sandwiches, with a side of veggies for dinner, chopped up and fried up with other veggies for breakfast, etc etc. If you don't eat it all in one go, wait until it's cooled then put it in a container and store in the fridge for a day or two. It becomes a little tough in the fridge, but it's still super tasty.

Fried Tofu
The other very simple way of preparing tofu is to simply fry it. You also don't need to press it for this because the heat of the pan will dry out the tofu. If you have fresh tofu, it will often crisp up by itself, but I love to coat the slices in cornstarch (just put the slices in a bowl, add cornstarch, and toss to coat), which gives them a lovely, crispy coating.

The sliced tofu (use a larger bowl, srsly); with cornstarch; beginning to fry, and fried!

Simply cut the tofu up (I'd recommend quite thin slices, around half a centimetre), give it a bit of a dab to dry it slightly, heat up a little oil (enough to lightly grease the bottom of the pan, or add about 1mm if you've coated it with cornstarch, so the thin edges are cooked) in a frying pan, and then add in the slices. Fry until browned on one side and then flip. This is great to do before adding the tofu to curries or satays, because it holds its shape and adds something chewy and crispy to the mix. Or, just coat with teriyaki sauce and enjoy!

The Urban Vegan also has instructions for dry-frying tofu, which is completely oil- and added-fat-free (but does require pressing), which you can find here. I will discuss pressing in the next part of this series.

And the journey continues! But not for another week or so. See you then.

I'll tag all of these posts "thetofustory", so if you want to see all of them together, just click on that label.


  1. Eat Drink & Be Vegan is one of my favourites too :) Thanks for posting this recipe, I've got some tofu to use up this week so I'll make this!

    1. Isn't it fantastic! And definitely: I absolutely love this. I always make it with the plan of eating it over a few days, but I'm lucky if it makes it to the second day!

  2. I love your mum!! Just from what you have told me. How special that she loves ed&bv. :) :) Thanks for sharing my recipe. xo

    1. She loves you too! :P Yes, she absolutely loves it; she won't cook from anything else! You're welcome: thank you for it.

  3. Cumin-lime tofu for dinner it is!

    Just want to note that some time ago I tried the dry-fry method, which I couldn't believe would work, and it turned out great! It's now my favorite way to prepare tofu to use in other dishes.

    1. Hahaha I had to make this a few times to get the photos cause I kept on just eating it! :P

      And that's good to know: I'll have to use that method in future.


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