So now you’re vegan and have discovered tofu. You’ve bought a brick. It sits like a squishy white blob on your counter, and you have no idea what to do with it.
I have a vivid memory of living in my first apartment. My brother and sister came to visit, and we were going to make tofu. (This is circa 1997) We take the brick (as pictured above) placed it on a cookie sheet and popped it into a 350* pre-heated oven, turned on the oven light, and stared at it.
I have no idea what we thought would happen. Maybe after 25 minutes at this temperature it would transform into something majestic and delicious. But no, it remained a block, one that was hot, and I vowed to never eat tofu–again.
Jump forward 21 years, and I crave the stuff. Oh, how times change.
MEATLESS MONDAY: TOFU 101–
Mistake #1 – we had NO idea what to do with tofu. Back in 1997 in Ohio, there wasn’t a whole foods. We shopped at a local chain store, you know the kind that sells turkey basters next to a bag of toy jack? They didn’t have tofu. Hell, they didn’t have soy beans. But its 2018, times have changed, and you can find tofu (pretty much) everywhere.
Mistake #2 – instead of trying to figure out, I mean, it’s not like the world was without vegetarians/vegans at all. So, I went back to how I ate. Lots of side dishes.
Tofu feels daunting because it’s different. The soybeans are processed in a way very similar to cheese, but instead of using dairy, you’re using soy beans.
There are many ways to prepare tofu, the easiest is probably in a ‘scramble.’
- 1 block of firm Tofu
- 1 small onion, diced
- 1/2 red bell pepper, diced
- 2 cloves garlic, diced
- 1 TBSP Olive Oil
- Salt and Pepper to taste
Remove tofu from water, give it a squeeze. Over a bowl, either use your fingers to break the tofu brick apart into small pieced, or–if you don’t want to use your hands–place brick into a bowl and use a potato masher to break it up.
Heat frying pan on medium heat, add oil and spread around. Add onion and pepper. Saute until onions are translucent, around 5 minutes. Add garlic, stir. Mix in tofu crumbles and mix around. Tofu is a spongy substance, and will absorb whatever flavors you set it in. Sprinkle with Sale and pepper, to your taste. Sprinkle with turmeric. You don’t need a lot! If you’re new to this India Spice, start small. The point of the Turmeric is to give it that ‘egg’ color. Too much and you’ll over power the flavor of your dish.
MARINATED PRESSED TOFU:
- 1 block of tofu
- 2 clean dish towels (or paper towels)
- 2 cutting boards, or 2 dinner plates (I like the cutting boards. I find them easier to use.)
Slice tofu into 1/4″ slices–you’ll have about 5. Cover the first cutting board with dish towel. Place tofu on dish towel. Cover with second dish towel, and then finally second cutting board. Find something heavy to set on top of the cutting board, tofu sandwich. I use our water pitcher and other pots and pans.
Now, here’s the trick. The longer you press the tofu, the dryer it becomes. The dryer it becomes, the more of your marinade the tofu will absorb. Plus, the texture is better (IMO) the longer you press. But, to each their own. If you don’t have all day–press for a minimum of 20 minutes. If you’re super behind–because life can be like that–use the Microwave!
If you MICROWAVE, cut the block in half, microwave on high for 2 MINUTES uncovered.
Now you’re ready for the marinade. If you have a favorite, go for it. I’ve wrote out an easy one below.
- 1/4 Cup Olive Oil
- 1/4 Cup Balsamic Vinegar
- 1 TBSP Lemon Juice
- 1 1/2 TBSP Dijon Mustard
- 1 TBSP Maple Syrup
Mix in a bowl, stir to combine. Add Tofu. Let sit for 20 minutes or so. The longer, the better.
When the tofu is ready to go, heat 1 TBSP Olive Oil in a frying pan. Transfer Tofu heated pan, searing each side. Once all side have browned, add remaining marinade and let every simmer until most of the water has evaporated.
Serve with rice or how ever you like!
Tofu is a versatile, vegan, food. Is it process? Technically, yes. But in a new Vegan World with vegan burgers, hot dogs, sausages, and more, it’s by far on of the least processed things out there. Remember, some cultures have been using tofu for centuries. Look outside the box you’re used to being it. Explore the world, one dish at a time.
And remember to work to keep it meatless.