Tofu is a true culinary chameleon: when unadorned it is both unassuming and, to some, unappealing. Yet with the myriad of tofu choices, from the smooth and custard-like to the veritable sponge that is extra firm tofu, you can tailor this simple soy food into something special and satisfying. Baking is my absolute favourite method for preparing extra firm tofu; the curd becomes dense and chewy and deeply savoury sweet as it soaks up its marinade. My personal preference for serving baked tofu is either hot with brown rice, bok choy and some of the extra thickened sauce or at room temperature with thinly sliced cucumbers and scallions. The cucumbers provide a fresh crunchy contrast to the intensity of the tofu as well as relief from the heat if you’re anything like me and my propensity for excess spice. This dish is somewhere in between the realms of a salad and side dish and as such I like to offer a crisp peppery radish salad and plate of simple steamed or stir fried greens on the side (my current preference is Swiss chard and purple kale with minced garlic.) If you have any leftover baked tofu make sure to save it for the coming week’s sandwiches, salads and grain dishes.
chewy baked tofu with cucumber and scallions:
1 block of extra-firm tofu, sliced into 1 cm thick pieces and drained on paper towel for 20 minutes
1/4 cup soy sauce
1 tsp. Sriracha sauce (or add as much as you’d like, I tend to wield rather a heavy hand with the hot sauce and use about 1 Tbsp.)
1 tsp. dark sesame oil
1 Tbsp. honey or maple syrup
1 Tbsp. grated fresh ginger
2 Tbsp. hoisin sauce
About 1 cup of thinly sliced cucumber on the diagonal
3 scallions, thinly sliced
1. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.
2. In a shallow baking pan (such as a glass pie plate) whisk together the soy sauce, Sriracha, dark sesame oil, honey or maple syrup, fresh ginger and hoisin sauce.
3. Place the tofu pieces onto the pan and turn to coat both sides. At this point you can either let the tofu marinate up to 24 hours or you can proceed to bake it right away, either way the baked tofu will be deeply flavourful so don’t panic if you lack the time or patience to let the tofu marinate.
4. Bake the tofu uncovered for 30 minutes, at which point it will need to be removed from the oven and flipped over. Bake for another 25 minutes, you want the tofu to be crisp around the edges and a rich dark colour from the marinade.
5. On individual plates or a large platter arrange the tofu attractively with the cucumber slices interspersed throughout. Drizzle some or all of the remaining marinade over your tofu and cucumbers and then sprinkle with the scallions before enjoying alone or with some very lucky company.
I love discovering new albums by musicians that I have been totally enamoured with since the advent of their first album. I’m not quite sure why I hadn’t gotten around to listening to The Ruby Suns not quite new album Fight Softly, but my lovely sister turned me on to it about a month ago and I haven’t been able to stop listening ever since. The Ruby Suns have evolved into something less twee and become layered and lush on this album (while their actual new album has become fiercely pop in the best way.) This song makes me feel like I’m in a forest, everything echoes and resonates in a way that reassures me that I’m alive and that my heart is always beating.
The Ruby Suns – Closet Astrologer