Tofu… that mysterious and unappetizing meat-replacement that those vegan hippies are always eating. Uck. A few years ago when I would see someone eating tofu I thought of that “How to Lose a Guy In 10 Days” movie. You know, where Kate Hudson fakes being a vegetarian and takes Matthew McConaughey to that awful restaurant where he chokes down some weird-looking tofu stuff. …no thank you. Then my mind would wander to my college Food Science class at Purdue where we made tofu and it was traumatizing.
Believe it or not this post does contain good news about tofu. On the contrary of everything I’ve said so far…tofu is actually awesome. It took me quite some time to figure this out. If you’re a tofu-hater like I was, please have an open mind. So much valuable time is passing where you’re missing out on this genius culinary invention!
So how did I go from a tofu-hater to a tofu-lover? Thai food. When we started cutting all animal products out of our diet we began looking for new restaurants to try out (check out our Eating Out post). Thai restaurants quickly became one of our go-tos. Each time we went I would scan over all the tofu dishes on the menu and eventually I decided to give one a try.
I was more than pleasantly surprised when I realized I actually enjoyed the tofu more than I had ever enjoyed meat. From that point on I was hooked. The only issue after that was – how do I make it taste this good at home?
It’s fairly easy to make crispy baked tofu with oil, but we like to avoid oil when possible (check our Why No Oil post). This was a big challenge and it took us a lot of time and experimenting to figure out how to reach that crispy product without the oil.
The solution to our no oil predicament is the 2 different cooking processes in the instructions. We first saute the tofu and then bake it and what results is perfect, golden, crunchy, restaurant-like tofu.
We’ve established that tofu taste amazing, but is it a good choice nutritionally?
Soy products (tofu, soy milk, etc.) have gotten a bad rap here recently in the media because they contain phytoestrogens. People see the word “estrogen” in there and freak out because they assume it has hormonal effects. Don’t fall into this media trap no matter how many times you see an article demonizing soy on your Facebook feed. Plant estrogens actually reduce the risk of breast cancer and prostate cancer and for the guys, it won’t make you grow boobs…promise.
Crispy (Baked) Tofu
- Nonstick Skillet
- baking sheet
- 1 block Extra-Firm Tofu
- 2 Tbsp Tamari or soy sauce
- 1 Tbsp Arrowroot Starch or cornstarch
Draining the Tofu
- The key to cripsy tofu is drain as much water out as possible. Therefore we recommend letting the tofu drain for at least 24 hours in your refrigerator. Do this by removing it from the container, slice it in half, and sit both halfs on a stack or 1 or 2 folded paper towels on your cutting board. Next, Place 1 or 2 folded paper towels on top of the tofu halves and set something heavy on top of them. I like to use my cast iron skillet. Set the cutting board in the refrigerator.
- Change the paper towel once or twice during the 24 hour draining period.
- Remove the tofu from the refrigerator and cut it into cubes. I recommend ~1" cubes, but do whatever you prefer.
Cooking the Tofu
- Preheat the oven to 400F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Use a papertowel to rub or oil spritzer to spray oil on the parchment paper. This prevents the tofu from sticking to the parchment paper and saves you from scrubbing the oil off of your pan.
- Place the cubbed tofu in a large bowl and toss with 1 tablespoon of tamari and 1 tablespoon of arrowroot starch to coat the cubes evenly. Using a rubber spatula can help with even distribution.
- Add 1 tablespoon of tamari to a non-stick skillet and place the burner on medium/high heat. Once hot, add the tofu to the skillet and saute, stirring continuousy, for 5 minutes.
- Transfer the tofu to the lined baking sheet and spread it out into an even layer. Bake it for 20 minutes, removing and stirring halfway through.