Tofu

Perfect (!) Baked Tofu, Meet Sheet-Pan Dinner

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May 31, 2016

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When I asked my neighbor, a trusted cook and friend, if she ever baked tofu, she scrunched her nose, recoiling—her expression revealed not only had she never baked tofu, but also that she had no interest in baking tofu.

Understood. With so many other sources of protein and calcium out there, tofu for non-vegetarians is a hard sell, seemingly high-maintenance—it requires pressing to release moisture and delicate handling to prevent crumbling and sticking—only to offer a bland product in return.

Photo by Alexandra Stafford

But if tofu’s demanding nature is a deterrent, the health benefits of eating less meat are not, so when I saw a recipe in Moosewood Restaurant Simple Suppers for baked tofu, which the authors describe as “the most useful recipe in the book,” I had to make it immediately. The results surprised me: A simple preparation, which called for making a four-ingredient dressing, resulted in nicely textured and completely tasty tofu—crispy edges, custardy centers, sesame-soy flavor throughout.

Just add rice. Or not! Photo by Alexandra Stafford

Best of all, no pressing or deft touch required. Having made the recipe a few times now, I’ve made some observations:

  1. Cutting the block of tofu into 1-inch cubes (as opposed to larger slabs or triangles) allows them to quickly and effectively absorb the dressing.
  2. Whisking a little Sriracha into the dressing adds a nice kick.
  3. Lightly greasing the sheetpan before baking the tofu prevents any sticking.
  4. Adding kale and flaked coconut to the sheet pan (inspired by this favorite Food52 recipe) after 20 minutes of cooking makes this a full meal.
Photo by Alexandra Stafford

Caramelized tofu, crispy kale, a sheet-pan supper—this baked preparation, as the authors promised, has become a “reliable standby,” and I have no doubt it will, at the very least, pique my neighbor’s interest.

Alexandra Stafford is a writer, photographer, and occasional stationery designer based in upstate New York, where she is writing a cookbook. You can read more of her work on her blog.

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Share your tips (and recipes!) for baked tofu in the comments below.

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23 Comments

Leslie September 26, 2016
I think this would be good with some roasted pumkin seeds as well. :)
 
Author Comment
Alexandra S. September 26, 2016
Love this idea!
 
Martha June 2, 2016
Count me among your many neighbors who had their interest piqued by this recipe. Made it tonight and we devoured the whole batch with rice. Definitely going to become a standby in our house. Looking forward to upping the Shiracha next time and adding ginger and or red pepper flakes... seems like it will easily take off in many directions. Thank you, thank you.
 
Author Comment
Alexandra S. June 3, 2016
So happy to hear this, Martha! The original recipe called for ginger actually, and the authors give many variations, so yes, this can go in many directions — keep me posted on any fun variations!
 
AntoniaJames June 1, 2016
Symbiotic baking explained here: https://instagram.com/p/0_1P-QmBy8/ ;o)
 
Author Comment
Alexandra S. June 1, 2016
So interesting AJ! Love this.
 
AntoniaJames June 1, 2016
Just thinking like an engineer. . . ;o)
 
Annada R. June 1, 2016
Sorry for the typo.
 
priya May 31, 2016
or this: http://www.masalagirltravels.com/2015/12/26/lemon-herb-baked-tofu-bites/
 
priya May 31, 2016
i've always baked tofu. i used to hate it, when my mom loved it her whole life (fried or in stir frys were the ways i had tried it)<br />this is how i normally bake it: http://www.masalagirltravels.com/2016/04/28/ginger-soy-tofu-vegetable-fried-rice-and-ginger-garlic-green-veggies-soup-miso-salad/
 
Author Comment
Alexandra S. June 1, 2016
Thanks for sharing these recipes, Priya! They look great. I'm dying to try the lemon-herb variation. I always associate tofu with Asian flavors, which is silly.
 
Deedledum May 31, 2016
Leftover baked tofu's great anytime-had it for breakfast today<br />
 
Author Comment
Alexandra S. May 31, 2016
I'm impressed! I had leftover tofu/kale/coconut for lunch, which was great, though I can't say I'll ever be so hard core as to try it for breakfast :)
 
Annada R. May 31, 2016
Thank you for the tip, Alexandra. <br /><br />I bake tofu in a marinade of ginger chutney (ginger, red chilli powder, tamarind paste and honey, salt), soy sauce and olive oil to make baked ginger tofu. And bake for about 10 minutes in the toaster oven at 350 degrees for a wholesome snack. It can be a great addition to any Asian salad too.
 
Author Comment
Alexandra S. May 31, 2016
Yum! Sounds so good. Do you make the ginger chutney yourself? I have about 10 little tubs of tamarind paste in my pantry—went a little crazy on Amazon one night in hopes of making an authentic Pad Thai—and I don't know what to do with them. Would love any thoughts!
 
priya May 31, 2016
oh i will have to try adding tamarind paste to it!!
 
Annada R. June 1, 2016
Hi Alexandra,<br />Yes, I make ginger chutney myself. But chutneys are a big part of my cooking, <br />I make a lot of different kind of chutneys, so tamarind is a staple in my pantry/fridge. I use it in my dals (red lentils, split pigeon peas) as a sour agent. Feel free to add a small portion to soups and stews too. <br /><br />Another common chutney is dates and tamarind. Since you have so much tamarind paste, you can make a variation using only tamarind paste and honey or jaggery. Just boil tamarind paste, jaggery, water, salt, red chilli powder and cumin powder till the tamarind loses its raw smell and the chutney attains some thickness. This chutney will last for at least 5-6 weeks in the fridge. Add a few tsps to puffed rice or rice krispies along with diced red onions, tomatoes, chopped cilantro and salt for a healthy snack. My friends loved this chutney as a topping on vanilla ice cream too. <br /><br />If you would like, I can send you a detail recipes too. <br />
 
Author Comment
Alexandra S. June 1, 2016
This is awesome, Annada! Thank you. I am going to give this a go! I don't want you to go through the trouble of sending detailed recipes (yet!)., but do you think this Serious Eats recipe looks promising: http://www.seriouseats.com/recipes/2012/10/sweet-tamarind-chutney-recipe.html ? I'm excited about this!
 
Annada R. June 1, 2016
Hi Alexandra,<br />The Serious East recipe looks great. Easy, quick and a perfect way to use your tamarind paste. Would love to know how it turned out and how you exhausted your tamarind paste supply :-)<br />
 
Author Comment
Alexandra S. June 1, 2016
Perfect, thanks! I will keep you posted :) <br />
 
susan G. June 2, 2016
Annada, could you put the chutney recipe on food52? and if others are variations, include them. Would be grateful!
 
Annada R. June 2, 2016
Sure, Susan! Will post "Ginger chutney" recipe by tomorrow. Thanks!
 
Annada R. June 2, 2016
Hey Susan,<br /><br />Posted the ginger chutney! Enjoy!