Full disclosure: I was nearly a tofu virgin before taking on this recipe. My only experience with tofu was when I accidentally bought a $20 airport salad five years back that had tofu instead of chicken. Yes, this past weekend I was the person Googling “what is tofu?” With a recommendation from a trusted vegetarian, Life Editor Angie DeRosa, I set out to explore the world of pressed soy milk.
Luckily for me, I had everything in the recipe except tofu, so grocery shopping was a breeze. For whatever reason, I was under the impression tofu was expensive. (That $20 airport salad still haunts me). I was pleased to find a block of tofu to serve four for just three or four dollars. Here’s the recipe, adapted from veganricha.com.
14 ounces extra firm or firm tofu, pressed
One tablespoon low sodium tamari/soy sauce
Two tablespoons ketchup
One teaspoon maple syrup or other sweetener
One-half teaspoon hot sauce (optional)
Two teaspoons oil
One teaspoon garam masala (or one-half teaspoon ground cumin and one-half teaspoon ground coriander)
One-half teaspoon garlic
One-quarter teaspoon salt
Three-quarters cup breadcrumbs
One-quarter teaspoon salt
One-quarter to one-half teaspoon cayenne
1. Slice the slab into four to six rectangles. Press the tofu for half an hour between kitchen towels and under a heavy weight to remove excess moisture.
2. Mix the marinade ingredients. Dip the tofu in the marinade and coat all sides to make an even coating that is not too thick or too thin. Place the tofu strips in a container with a lid. Refrigerate for at least half an hour or longer.
3. Mix everything under breadcrumb coating.
4. Place each tofu strip in the breadcrumb mixture. Flip to coat all sides
5. Heat a pan over medium heat on the stove. Brush oil on the pan and place the breaded tofu on the pan. Cook two to three minutes each side until browned and crispy.
When I read that the tofu needed to be pressed with a heavy weight, my first thought was a big pot of water. DO NOT DO THIS. Ten minutes later, gravity did exactly what it was supposed to do, the tofu was compressed and slightly uneven and the pot of water came sliding down onto my kitchen floor. (Insert groan). Instead, use a heavy (empty) pot, cookbooks, textbooks, your roommate’s ugly paperweight and anything you wouldn’t mind seeing toppling to the floor.
Once I got past that fiasco, the recipe was fairly easy. The marinade was easy and delicious, the breading was simple and the cooking was fast. I served my tofu over brown rice, but you could serve it over vegetables. You could slice it thinner and put it in a salad or into a wrap.
If I could do it over again I would probably double or triple the marinade and then drizzle it as a sauce after cooking. It was a little bit dry. I still have leftovers, so I might be whipping up another marinade anyway.
The bottom line: Would I make this again? Maybe. It had a nice taste, a different but pleasing consistency and was relatively affordable. If I didn’t have to press it, I would definitely make this again.
Claire Galvin is a senior staff writer for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.