This recipe was supposed to be the first one in my new book. But due to Coronavirus, things are uncertain. So I thought this recipe might bring some joy into your life in social isolation or quarantine. I’m usually quite hesitant to drop catchy titles, but I just love this tofu, and I’m 99% sure that you will too.
Tofu is not a regular in my diet, but we do enjoy a little bit of tofu every now and then. My husband really loves smoked tofu, and I like it in my Asian-inspired dishes such as Thai curry noodles or summer rolls. We’ve never made tofu the center of our plate, however. At least until I’ve started experimenting with different tofu techniques. There are plenty of tips on the internet, and since I’ve had a little time on my hands during social isolation, I’ve tried a couple of them. And what can I say: some made a HUGE difference. Life-changing, to be exact. Now I’m a tofu girl, and I’m never going back.
1. Squeezing excess liquid out of the tofu.
I own a tofu press, and I am not ashamed of it. Just kidding, but I really never thought that pressing tofu would make such a huge difference in taste. Why? Because pressing tofu squeezes the excess liquid out of it, which makes the texture less watery. The tofu will therefore later taste less bland, and it will absorb the flavor of the marinade much better. Before you invest in yet another kitchen tool, however, note that you do not need a tofu press to achieve this. All you need is a kitchen towel (a paper towel works too, but is less sustainable), two plates, and lots of heavy books. You simply wrap the tofu into the towel, place it between two plates, and then weight it down with heavy books. This will do the trick. Let the tofu sit like that for at least 30 minutes, preferably longer.
Another tip is freezing the tofu. Once you take it out of the fridge and let it sit at room temperature, the de-freezing process will drain all excess water out of the tofu. The only downside of this method is that it takes a little longer. However, if you know you want to eat tofu for dinner, then take it out of the freezer in the morning, and place it into a bowl in the fridge. When you come home you can immediately start making the recipe below.
If you want to invest in a tofu press, then start googling. I own this one*, but it’s a plastic one and not of the highest quality. It gets the job done, however.
2. Do not cut the tofu, tear it.
I’ve found this dip on a website of a tofu brand. In my noodles dishes, I’ve always broken down the tofu into a texture that slightly resembles minced meat. But I’ve never tried it with pan-fried tofu. By tearing the tofu with your fingers into random shapes, it gets bumpy edges. This enables the marinade to stick to the tofu much better. Honestly, I doubt I will ever go back to cutting my tofu with a knife. Though I haven’t figured out how I will do this when I grill tofu.
3. Add the marinade after pan-frying, not before.
This makes SUCH a difference. I used to marinade my tofu in the sauce before pan-frying it because I always thought it makes the tofu absorb the flavors better. However, when I added the sauce last, it clung and stuck to the tofu in such a delicious way, that I will never go back. Granted, this method only works with thick and creamy marinades on a nut butter base. So whenever you use nut butter or tahini in your marinade, try adding the sauce after pan-frying. This gives the tofu a crispy outer layer, and it almost resembles nuggets. I do not like using this comparison, but I cannot find a better way to describe it.
4. The best marinade
I’ve always used a nut butter-based marinade, but recently, I’ve worked on the sweet-acid-balance a little more. This recipe has been my favorite for quite some time, but I’ve changed it up a bit. Instead of using lime juice only, I added apple cider vinegar, which gives it a little more of a tangy flavor. Of course, you could also use garlic and ginger, but I tried to keep it as simple as possible by only using nut butter, apple cider vinegar, tamari, and a dash of lime juice.
Is tofu healthy?
Tofu has gotten a bit of a bad reputation over the last decade. This is mainly due to the genetic manipulation of the soybean in countries such as the United States. Growing genetically modified soy is, however, banned in Germany and to my knowledge, in the entire European Union. When I buy soy products, I only buy them in organic quality, preferably with one of the trustworthy organic labels. Also, I only buy tofu from German or Austrian crops to make sure it is GMO-free. So look for organic, GMO-free tofu when you buy your next batch. Tofu is an excellent source of plant-based protein, so it can definitely be regarded as healthy food when eaten in moderation.
If you suffer from a thyroid condition such as Hashimoto or other chronic illnesses, you might want to consult your doctor first. An excess amount of soy products is not recommended for people with thyroid conditions. However, eating tofu in moderation is normally considered unproblematic. Even people suffering from thyroid conditions can eat tofu in healthy moderation. Nobody eats tofu for breakfast, lunch, and dinner seven days a week.Print
- 300 g of natural tofu
- 40 g of all-natural nut butter (I love it with peanut butter, cashew butter and almond butter, but tahini works as well)
- 2 tablespoons of tamari
- 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar
- 1 teaspoon of lime juice (optional)
- 2 tablespoons of toasted sesame oil
- 2 tablespoons of sesame seeds
- Press the tofu for at least 30 minutes using one of the methods explained in the blog post.
- Tear it into random shapes using your fingers, not a knife. Mix the nut butter, tamari, apple cider vinegar and lime juice and whisk well. If it’s too thick, add a bit more tamari and 1-2 tablespoons of water.
- Heat the oil on medium heat, then add the tofu to the pan. Let it sizzle for a couple of minutes so the edges can become nice and crispy. Take your time to fry all sides of the tofu, so all the edges become crispy.
- Turn of the heat, then immediately add the sauce and toss the tofu constantly. You want the sauce to cover all tofu bits. It will stick to the tofu like a coat and dry up as you toss it.
- Quickly add the sesame seeds before the sauce becomes too dry.
- Let it cool for a moment, then serve warm. It also tastes delicious when enjoyed cold, such as in spring rolls.
- I love peanut butter, but cashew butter or almond butter make this recipe even healthier.
- Tahini also works well, but you might want to add a bit of sweetness to the sauce, such as a teaspoon of maple syrup or coconut blossom sugar.