You know when people quit smoking or find religion or whatever behavior or lifestyle change they’ve made, and then become this completely annoying person that’s out to convert everyone else?
That’s me with tofu.
I’m a former tofu hater. Like, big time. All I knew about tofu is that my parents poured ginger syrup over a soft, runny lump of it and called it a dessert. Blecch. Or that tofu was a cold white lump of bland nastiness that people associated vegetarianism with…it’s how they “got their protein”. Neither or these examples are examples of culinary yumminess.
However, when I decided to stop eating my fellow mammals in 1993, and then started leaving the birds alone too in 2014, tofu came back on my radar as a plant food that my vegan friends swore was delicious when “made properly”. This whole “made properly” thing was a mystery to me, as my entire abstract for tofu was 1. Yuck! and 2. Ewww!
However, tofu is gluten-free (unlike the popular seitan, which while indeed a plant protein, is pure gluten).
Since I was motivated to give it another try, I started Googling recipes, and this whole baked/fried tofu cult came to light. Apparently, tofu will actually turn a golden brown and puff up when baked, and take on a whole new flavor and texture profile which is mercifully nothing like tofu. And then there was this whole “smoked tofu” that amped the delicious factor up. Well. I was intrigued.
I found Soyganics Smoked Tofu at the grocery store, and made the following recipe:
Crispy Salt and Pepper Baked Smoked Tofu
1 block smoked tofu (I LOVE Soyganics)
Spray olive oil (mine’s in a Misto pump sprayer)
Pink Himalayan Sea Salt
- Cube the tofu in 1/2″ squares
- place it in a bowl and spritz it with the olive oil, and salt and pepper to taste. You know what you like.
- mix it all up and put it on a baking sheet covered in aluminum foil
- bake it for about 1/2 hr or less at 425°
Note: when you impatiently look at it a few minutes in, all you’ll see is shiny salt and peppered tofu cubes doing absolutely nothing, and you’ll call me delusional for suggesting that these little cubes will ever puff up. While I can be delusional, I’m not about this: the puffing won’t start until 15 minutes in. Then it’s all uphill from there 🙂 keep an eye on it, as you want it to be tender enough for a fork or a toothpick on the inside, but crispy and golden on the outside.
While the tofu is baking, make the Cilantro Jalepeño sauce from this recipe: http://damndelicious.net/2015/07/31/cilantro-jalapeno-sauce/ (if you’re a vegan, use cashew cream or Toffuti Sour Supreme instead of the sour cream). I was looking for a way to use my bumper crop of cilantro when I found this recipe originally).
If you want to turn the tofu halfway through, be my guest. I don’t because I am far too unmotivated, and also because the tinfoil takes care of the other side browning and puffing very nicely.
Take it out of the oven and let it cool. Yes, I know it smells good and you want to eat it, just trust me and let it cool off for a couple of minutes! (That’s ok, I didn’t either, and burnt my tongue too.).
See? So. Freaking. Good.
Time to dip it in the Cilantro Jalepeño Sauce. Fabulous, right? If you make two blocks and don’t eat them all yourself, this is actually a chic little hors d’oevres when people come over. It pairs well with margaritas (really, what doesn’t pair well with a margarita?)
Now THIS is how you make tofu amazing. So spread the word: go forth and multipy the tofu lovers of the world. And make those tofu haters (deliciously) eat their words!