Tofu

My tofu, served with rice as a yin-yang

I am picky about tofu.  I didn't become vegetarian until my sister showed me how to prepare tofu that didn't taste bad.  This is my attempt to share that recipe.

Ingredients

  • One 15oz block of firm Tofu for every 2 people
  • Sesame oil (olive oil is an acceptable substitute)
  • Brewer's yeast, also called nutritional yeast
  • Soy sauce
  • Seasonings (I usually add paprika, ginger, basil, and oregano, but you can do whatever you have on hand)

Cooking Implements to Have On Hand

  • Cutting board
  • Frying pan
  • Something spatula-like that is suitable for flipping tofu in a frying pan
  • A fork for tasting the tofu while it's cooking

Preparation

  • First, open the tofu container.  Make sure to do this over the sink since water will come out.  
  • Next, cut the tofu lengthwise.  If you bought a 15oz block, you should cut it into four slabs.  This picture (context link) illustrates someone splitting a 15oz block of tofu into two slabs.
  • If you want to be extra thorough, you can drain the slabs of excess water by pressing cloth napkins, paper towels, newspaper, or something similar onto them.  Press each slab of tofu with dry napkins until the amount of water that comes onto the napkin is negligible.  However, despite doing this for years, I recently tried without this step and found that it tasted more or less the same.
  • Next, cut the tofu into small segments.  I think that I cut them into roughly half-inch by quarter-inch segments, but it doesn't matter too much.

​Cooking the Tofu

The main purpose of cooking the tofu is to infuse it with soy sauce and other seasonings.  Soy sauce is the most important, so you will add that throughout (3-5ish times).  I generally add brewer's yeast and sesame oil once at the start of the process and once in the middle.  I generally add other seasonings once in the middle and once right before serving.  I figure out how much soy sauce to add by tasting the tofu a couple minutes after adding soy sauce and assessing whether it's salty enough.  The color is also a good indicator -- it should be moderately dark when it is ready.  The following is a crude attempt to spell all of that out step by step.

  • Add sesame oil to your frying pan and start heating it.  I generally use just a little bit below the hottest setting on my gas stove
  • When the pan has warmed up a bit, add the tofu.  Then, immediately, add soy sauce on top of the tofu.  Make sure that all of the tofu gets a little bit of soy sauce on it.  Don't worry about it being evenly applied or anything since you'll be adding a lot over time.  Sprinke a moderate amount of brewer's yeast on it as well.
  • As it cooks, make sure that you don't let the tofu stick to the pan.  To facilitate this, grab the frying pan's handle and move it forward and backward every couple of minutes so that the tofu all moves around.  
  • Since it will be sitting in a puddle of soy sauce on the bottom, you should flip the tofu periodically so that a different side is absorbing the soy sauce on the bottom at different times.
  • After a couple of minutes, add more soy sauce.  The pan should be hot enough that the soy sauce audibly sizzles when you add it.  Flip the tofu and move around the pan.
  • A little after, add some seasonings.  I generally sprinkle each seasoning over the top.
  • After a couple of minutes, taste a cube of tofu.  If it isn't too salty, add more soy sauce.  Shake the pan to even it out.  Flip some of the tofu.
  • After a couple of minutes, add a bit more sesame oil and yeast.
  • After a couple of minutes, taste a cube of tofu.  This is getting to the point when it might actually be saucey enough.  For the purposes of this guide, I'm assuming it'll take one more round of soy sauce, so add more soy sauce.  Shake the pan.  Flip some tofu.
  • After a couple of minutes, taste a cube of tofu.  If it's salty enough, add your remaining seasonings, turn off the heat, and serve it.  If there is still soy saucey, yeasty, sesame oily goodness in the pan, it's a great way to season some plain rice.  However, if you wait long enough rounds of soy sauce, there shouldn't be a ton remaining in the pan.

Serve With

If I'm cooking for myself, I make half a cup of rice, 7oz of tofu, and either a salad with Annie's Goddess Dressing or vegetables (carrots, broccoli, radishes, or any other dense veggie that's in season) sauteed in balsemic vinegar.

If you're making that meal as a whole, you should start boiling one cup of water.  When it comes to a boil, add the rice and turn down to a simmer.  Then, if you're making a salad, prepare that now.  If you're planning on sauteeing veggies, chop the veggies now, but wait to sautee them until after you're done with the tofu -- you can reuse the frying pan without washing it for additional deliciousness.  To sautee veggies, have some oil in the pan, add the veggies, and add a splash of balsemic vinegar.  You probably won't need to add more than two splashes.  I generally like my veggies close to raw, so I probably won't leave them in the pan long -- just long enough to get warm and absorb some of the vinegar.  Alternately, you can serve them raw.  By the time the veggies and tofu are both done, the rice should be about done, though you might need to wait a few more minutes.

If you are serving a vegetarian and don't know what to make, you'll probably be fine as long as you have some sort of vegetarian carbohydrates (eg, rice, quinoa, pasta, or a bread dish), some sort of vegetarian protein (eg, lentils, beans, tofu, tempeh, or seitan), and some veggies.  I'm also partial to cranberry cobbler, strawberry rhubarb pie, or ice cream if you're making desert.

Quarter:

Experience Type:

Experience Date: 
Tuesday, November 26, 2013