I really love tofu, but it hasn’t always been so.
First, there was the pre-vegan contempt. I have one particularly vivid memory of being at a Chinese restaurant for a birthday party and spending much of the evening in hysterics that anyone would choose to eat something called bean curd (youth, ignorance and wine; tofu and the vegans of the early 2000s, I apologise).
Then, on becoming vegan and eating some delicious tofu-based meals in restaurants, came the crushing realisation that I had absolutely no idea what I was doing and had completely underestimated how to actually handle tofu. I tried. I really tried. Frying, grilling, and generally not having a clue. I didn’t even know there were different types! Tofu novice…
And so I gave up for a long time. It was only when I began to change my diet – to become more involved and interested in every aspect of researching and preparing my food – that I felt brave enough to give it another go, this time with the respect it deserves! And you know what? It’s really simple when you know how.
Two of my favourite ways to prepare tofu are baked and scrambled, so here is my fool-proof recipe for baked tofu, which can be added to anything you like. I love it in curries, salads, stir-fries or just with some simply-cooked vegetables.
- 1 block firm tofu. I like the organic Oasis brand.
- 1 tsp oil (rice bran or similar is good, or coconut if you want more flavour)
- 1 tbsp red wine vinegar
- 3 tbsp soy sauce
- 4 cloves minced garlic
- 1 red chilli, chopped
- A squeeze of lime
- 1 tsp turmeric
- 1 tsp smoked paprika
- Black pepper
- [Marinate tofu for at least two hours before you want to eat – this could be done the day before and kept in the fridge for an even stronger flavour]
- Drain the tofu and wrap it in a couple of sheets of kitchen paper for about 5 minutes, to get rid of any excess moisture.
- Cut into cubes or strips – whatever you fancy! I like little pieces, to mix in with salads or stir-fries.
- Add all of the ingredients, minus the oil, to an oven dish and give it all a good stir. Mix it up a few times before you cook it to ensure each piece has soaked up lots of flavour. Try to keep the chillies and garlic under the tofu when you go to cook it, you don’t want them to burn and taste bitter.
- Heat the oven to 180 degrees and drizzle over the oil.
- Cook for about 15 minutes, turn over each piece, and cook again for another 15 minutes. The tofu is ready when there is no liquid left in the dish and it is crispy, but not burned.
- Serve, including the lovely crispy bits of garlic and chilli!
The seasoning is completely up to you, and depends on what you’re using the tofu for. For Asian dishes I include spices like garam masala, coriander, cayenne pepper and cumin. The fun is in the experimenting!