Weeknight Cooking

Crispy Sesame Baked Tofu & Shiitake Mushrooms

April 10, 2017
23 Ratings
Photo by Bobbi Lin
  • Serves 2 to 3
Author Notes

Raise your hand—and raise it high—if you're excited to fry tofu on a weeknight. The brave among you are waving one arm in the air, pouring oil into a wok with the other. (You must have tasted Ottolenghi's black pepper tofu.)

While I salute you, I cannot join you. On any given weeknight, my psyche is not hardy enough to weather the frustrations of sticky skins; my paper towel supply is not plentiful enough to clean up errant oil splatters.

And so, when I'm feeling weeknight weary, I follow the lead of Cookie and Kate (and The Kitchn): Give pressed tofu a quick run through oil, cornstarch, panko, and sesame seeds, and put it in the oven. Ta-da!

Thirty minutes and one flip later, your tofu emerges with a crust as defined as the fried version (with a little help from cornstarch and panko), and you'll have skipped the sputtering oil and spatula contortion. The crowd of cubes will be evenly browned; the clean-up will be minimal.

And while the tofu is roasting, you can take advantage of the warm oven to cook accompanying vegetables: In that amount of time, thinly sliced shiitakes will shrivel, their savory flavor concentrating as their sponginess turns to chewiness. Roast sweet potatoes chunks, cauliflower florets, or carrot spears. Add asparagus and halved cherry tomatoes to the oven halfway through cooking time, when you flip the tofu. Oh, the possibilities!

Once you've dried out the tofu in the oven, it's more receptive to flavorful sauces: Mound atop a bowl of rice or sesame noodles; float in soup; or, add to your stir-fry.

Or simply drizzle with a bit of soy sauce (and fish sauce, too) and snack on them like you would chicken nuggets—or, you know, tater tots. —Sarah Jampel

What You'll Need
  • one 14-ounce box extra-firm tofu
  • 7 ounces shiitakes, stems trimmed of woody parts and thinly sliced
  • 4 tablespoons vegetable or peanut oil, divided
  • 4 teaspoons sesame oil, divided
  • 4 teaspoons soy sauce, divided, plus 1 additional teaspoon for drizzling at the end
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1 tablespoon panko breadcrumbs
  • 1 tablespoon sesame seeds, plus more for garnish
  • 1/2 teaspoon fish sauce (optional)
  • Chives, for garnish
  1. At least 30 minutes (and as many as two or three hours!) before you want to start cooking, press the tofu: Place a dish cloth or paper towels on a cutting board, then the tofu, then another layer of towels. On top of the tofu, place a board and some heavy objects to weight it down. Heat the oven to 400° F and line two sheets with parchment paper.
  2. When the tofu is ready, cut it into 1/2-inch cubes and place in a bowl. In another bowl, place the sliced mushrooms. To each bowl, add 2 tablespoons vegetable or peanut oil, 2 teaspoons sesame oil, 2 teaspoons soy sauce, and a pinch of salt.
  3. To the bowl of tofu, add cornstarch, panko, and sesame seeds and stir to coat.
  4. Spread the tofu out on one baking sheet and the mushrooms out on another. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, flipping halfway through. When the tofu and mushrooms are finished, mix them together and drizzle with fish sauce, if you'd like, and remaining 1 teaspoon soy sauce. Sprinkle with chives and additional sesame seeds.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • rob
  • Cheryl
  • Melissa Y
    Melissa Y
  • cookinginvictoria
  • EmilyC

32 Reviews

NinaL February 3, 2024
We love this recipe! The only addition to suggest is I add about 1Tbsp siracha to the marinade.
NinaJL November 20, 2021
We love this recipe! I add 1 Tbsp saracha sauce to the oil/soy marinade.
rob July 20, 2021
Had them as a side for a standard chicken and noodle stir fry when I did not have that much chicken. It sort of bulked out the meal.

I noticed that the mushrooms cooked considerably faster than tofu or recipe implied.
Sharon October 19, 2020
I made the tofu and it was delicious and easy. I didn't have any mushrooms, so I used the sauce on some broccoli and red pepper, roasting until just tender. I added a very small hit of brown sugar to the vegetables because I think that broccoli likes that. I garnished with scallions and toasted sesame seeds. It came together in virtually no time and made a great lunch. PS. Pressing tofu is easier with a colander, a plate on top and a couple little hand weights on the plate. Works like a charm, less mess.
Ruth A. March 15, 2020
Really disappointed. Was looking forward to crunchy tofu!
But I thought the result was almost tasteless.
Any suggestions?
Cheryl November 16, 2019
Loved it! Thank you to those who went before me and found that the mushrooms cooked fast. I think mine were done in 20-25 mins. Next time, I will try with the cubes being 1" instead of 1/2". Agreed tofu needed more flavor, so I sprinkled on Tamari. I will experiment with other flavors. Thank you!
Cheryl November 16, 2019
Oh yes... and double batch next time.
CM January 1, 2019
Eating right now. Here are my tips:

1) How crispy/chewy/burnt your shiitakes get depends entirely on how thinly you slice, but either way they will probably be done before the tofu -- for me, about 30 minutes on the mushrooms and the full 40 for the tofu.
2) If you're missing panko, that's OK - will be less crunchy but I just added more sesame seeds and was still happy
3) Serving suggestion: alongside some simple gai lon, broccoli, or other tender greens
4) Drizzle with ABC (sweet soy) sauce and scallions
Melissa H. June 23, 2018
This was very good, even some hesitant eaters really liked it. I did switch my oven to convection for the about the last five minutes which helped crisp it up a bit. I roasted the mushrooms on a separate sheet pan with broccoli, just to make the whole dinner at once. They finished a bit sooner, which was easy to take one sheet out first. We did agree that the tofu would be good if it had a little kick to it, so we will experiment with adding red pepper flakes next time.
pottsy.1990 March 15, 2018
I liked the tofu & mushrooms from a texture point of view but thought this needed more flavour. Served with roasted broccoli, briwn rice & kimchi which helped things but maybe a sauce needed here?
lmr February 25, 2018
What kind of tofu is everyone using - silken or regular? Thanks!
Sarah J. February 25, 2018
Extra-firm tofu!
msmely March 9, 2018
both silken and regular tofu come in extra firm varieties...
typically you don't press silken tofu since even the extra firm stuff is so soft and the high moisture content makes it liable to fall apart. Similarly you tend to not use silken tofu in any recipe that involves a lot of bashing the tofu around since it'll tend to break up into pieces. For these reasons I would guess that Sarah means regular tofu.
Melissa Y. January 14, 2018
As everyone has mentioned, this is a versatile, easy and worthy of regular rotation (and very easily doubled!)! i chopped up some kale and added it to the bowl with leftover marinade to give the meal a leafy base. My mushrooms were done in 15 minutes, so definitelt watch them. I added a savory ground pork with garlic, onions, sake, soy sauce, & mirin as a side for the non-tofu eaters and it really made a great dinner for the crowd.
ShaLaLa2009 January 13, 2018
I made this for the 2nd time to go on top of Food52's warm kimchi bowl with spicy broccoli recipe, and it's really delicious. Great flavors and not much work to get there! I'm definitely going to keep making this combo!
Kate E. May 8, 2019
Great recommendation; I loved the combo!
cookinginvictoria July 27, 2017
Made the tofu (w/o the mushrooms) tonight and, we all loved it. I paired it with Melissa Clark's Summer Squash, Coconut and Basil Stir Fry (from her Dinner: Changing the Game cookbook) and udon noodles. The stirfry was lovely, but the tofu was the star of the evening and was devoured by everyone at the table. Loved the ease of preparation -- so much easier than panfrying the cubes. The tofu was nicely flavored from the marinade and had a wonderful crispiness. This dish seems very versatile. I can see pairing the tofu with so many different vegetables. Really delicious.
Vegetarian, C. July 25, 2017
I made this over the weekend and will be making round 2 tonight as I knew I'd like it and bought double everything. The shiitake didn't look so great last week at the store so I went with cremini, worked great. That said, I used tamari instead of soy, that's just what I keep on hand, and the cremini was a tad too salty but I over roasted the mushrooms so they dried out a pinch and that might have contributed. I will go lighter tonight on the tamari. I would like to get a tad more flavor on the tofu, might try marinating them for 30 minutes after I press them for an hour or so. Loved this! THANK YOU!!
Vegetarian, C. July 25, 2017
Continued...I also roasted broccoli and served all 3 in a bowl together. Recommendations on style of rice or type of greens to serve with this?
alywit June 19, 2017
I followed this recipe to the letter. The tofu turned out great. The Shitake mushrooms were burnt to a crisp after 15 mins in the oven at 400F. Bummer. I will try it again because I like mushrooms and the tofu was great. However I will roast the mushrooms separately first at a lower temperature.
EmilyC May 26, 2017
Made this last week and absolutely adored it! Best tofu I've ever made. Last night, I had broccoli on its last leg and tossed it with the same dressing and showered it with sesame seeds. So good!
EmilyC May 26, 2017
p.s. I roasted the broccoli.
Änneken May 19, 2017
I also only made the tofu (I don't like the texture of mushrooms) and it was delicious! It's so easy to make!
Separately from the tofu I made this dressing (https://food52.com/recipes/70488-my-basic-go-to-yogurt-dressing) to go with my lunch salad for the next day and strangely enough the tofu AND the dressing together were out of this world. I making the tofu again over the weekend.
CoffeeAndBaconYum September 3, 2021
The link didn't work. Would you please list the name of the Food52 dressing you used?
Alexandra S. May 9, 2017
Loved this! I only made the tofu, and I didn't have panko or sesame seeds, but the seasoning of the dressing was perfect, and the cornstarch gave it such a nice crispiness. SO easy and SO good. Carnivore husband was gobbling it up. Thanks!
Emma S. May 2, 2017
Has anyone made this with fine breadcrumbs instead of panko? I'm planning on trying it tomorrow but forgot to get panko! I don't think the Italian-style seasoned panko I have would work as a substitute ;)
Thumbs up from the Fam of 5 including 3 teenagers/carnivores! Absolutely delicious and the Shitaake mushrooms tasted like bacon! So tasty! Winner Dinner- will make again!