Broiled tofu

AKA, “you should write a blog post about this” tofu.  Quite high praise from my somewhat tofu-skeptical husband.

Though I somewhat enjoy uncooked, unseasoned tofu, Matthew won’t go near the stuff.  Many of my more basic, chop it up and add it to a dish while cooking methods also fail to meet his taste and texture standards.

We enjoyed the results of the preparation method I mentioned in this post, but it’s actually a bit labor intensive, and it involves either a good bit of oil to make it work in the cast iron or using the nasty non-stick skillet.  Enter the marinate and broil method.

It requires just a little planning, because marinating the tofu for at least 12 hours yields the best results.  You can also let it sit in the marinade for a few days, refrigerated of course — prep it on the weekend for a weeknight meal.

Broiled Tofu
Recipe by Melissa

Ingredients

1 block extra firm tofu (preferably organic)
2-3 T. soy sauce
1-2 T. ginger spread*
1/2 t . onion powder
1/2 t. garlic powder

Directions

Drain tofu and slice  into six pieces.  Place tofu slices on clean dish towel, top with a cookie tray, and use hand weights, cans, etc. to weigh down the tray.  Let sit for at least 30 minutes to remove excess moisture.  This will help the tofu absorb more of the yummy marinade.**

While the tofu is “weighting,” mix the soy sauce, ginger spread, onion powder, and garlic powder in a shallow container.  I just eyeball the amounts.  More soy sauce = saltier.  More ginger spread = sweeter. [Sometimes I add a bit of water (1-2 T.?) to help stretch out the marinade without adding too much sodium.]

Dip each side of the pressed tofu slices in the marinade, then arrange in single layer in the container and refrigerate for at least 12 hours.  More marinating time = more flavor!

When ready to cook, brush a light coat of olive oil on both sides of each slab and arrange on the broiler pan.  I prefer to broil my tofu in our toaster oven, which is just the right size for one block (6 slices) of tofu.  This uses less energy than firing up the oven’s broiler, but if you don’t have a toaster oven, that’s fine.

Broil 6-10 minutes per side.  Actual time will depend on your broiler — keep an eye on it after the shorter amount of time so it doesn’t burn.

Serving options

  1. After broiling, let cool slightly, then chop into bite sized pieces and add to any one-dish meal (e.g., stir fry, big pan of sauteed veggies, etc.) at the end of cooking.
  2. Serve whole slice of tofu (like you would a piece of meat) on top a bed of grains with some nice veggies sides.
  3. Chop into bite-sized pieces and use as a salad topper.
  4. Other ideas???

The marinate and broil method should also work with just about any marinade.  What are your favorite marinade ingredients?

*Ginger spread: I first encountered this ginger spread as a gift from my sister while I was pregnant.  Using it as a spread on toast was not appealing, but I quickly discovered that it was a great way to add flavor and a touch of sweetness to marinades, salad dressings, and stir fries.  You could also buy fresh ginger and make your own spread, or, for the sake of this recipe, add some finely grated fresh ginger (a citrus zester works well for this) along with your sweetener of choice.

Tofu with peanut sauce

Peanut sauce inspired by this recipe from Daily Garnish.  I use peanut butter instead of peanut flour, but everything else works out pretty much the same.

The basics:

  • Make peanut sauce.
  • Cut a 14-16oz. block of extra firm tofu into cubes (24 cubes, in this case, if you were curious).  Cook tofu separately from other ingredients.  Slow is the key.  (See notes on tofu cooking below.)
  • Toss cooked tofu with about half of the peanut sauce.  Reserve remaining sauce for the veggies.
  • Prep any veggies you want.  I used carrots, Napa cabbage, and garlic in this dish, plus fresh green onions for topping.  After the tofu came out of the skillet, I tossed the veggies in for a quick stir-fry with a bit of oil and a splash of soy sauce.  Top with remaining peanut sauce.
  • Serve over rice or noodles.  For dinner, we ate this over our homemade noodles, dressed up with a bit of sesame oil.

The Tofu

Prior to this meal, I relied on my non-stick pan for perfectly cooked tofu cubes.  With the addition of a 15-inch cast iron skillet, plus some stainless steel pots, we’ve really minimized our reliance on our two remaining non-stick pans.

Still, I originally reached for the big non-stick pan, afraid the tofu would stick too much in the cast iron unless I used TONS of oil.  But what fun is dinner without a little experimentation?

I cooked the tofu in the big cast iron skillet by itself.  I coated my tofu cubes in peanut and canola oil, and also added some of both kinds of oil directly to the skillet.  In the end, I did use a good bit of oil, but it still fell within my acceptable range, and, most importantly, it left me with delicious, crunchy tofu cubes, no sticking, and no chemical-coated pan required!

For an in-depth “Tofu Tutorial,” also courtesy of the Daily Garnish, click here.

No tofurky? No problem.

I have never purchased a tofurky, but I have sampled this interesting creation at potlucks, and I did make a homemade “tofu turkey” a few years ago.  It was rather delicious, but it also required quite a bit of work, and with so many other delicious vegetarian options out there, I have not attempted to recreate it.

Whether you’re celebrating a meat-free meal this year, or just need inspiration for some healthy, tasty side dishes, check out this tantalizing plethora of recipes at Well’s Vegetarian Thanksgiving.  Treehugger has some additional offerings here.

If you are doing the turkey thing (or any kind of meat), look for locally raised, pastured birds.  In St. Louis, I know of two sources: Local Harvest Grocery and Fresh Gatherings Cafe.  While it is probably too late to preorder a bird for this Thursday, there’s always Christmas and next year to consider.