Marinated Tofu Recipe: A Healthy Vegetarian Alternative
Preparation Time: 10 minutes prep, 15-20 minutes cooking
Serves: A 14 oz package of tofu serves 2-3 people
Tofu is a true superfood: a healthy source of protein packed with phytonutrients that are custom-made for women's health. The natural compounds in soy actually help balance your hormones. And though soy seems to help some menopausal women with hot flashes, it's just as healthy for young women. We recommend soy as a change of pace from animal protein, though for vegetarians it's a great staple food. And beans in any form are one of our favorite foods, and an essential of the PMS Comfort Diet.
The problem with tofu is the problem with a lot of healthy foods: how do you make tofu taste good? We think we've got the answer with our baked, marinated tofu recipe. Ordinarily tofu is one of the blandest of foods, with a distinctly curdy texture: it is, after all, bean curd. But the secret to any delicious tofu recipe is that it soaks up flavor like a sponge. In our recipe, by baking the tofu on an oiled sheet, you'll get the crispness of frying without the greasy result. Baking also concentrates the flavor of the marinade.
How to cook tofu? We prefer simple recipes that don't take hours in the kitchen, and that you can whip up at a moment's notice and this baked, marinated tofu recipe fills the bill. You can serve it as vegetarian main course or a side dish, eat it as a snack, or even make a sandwich with tofu. We've found that as a savory snack, it is positively addictive!
If you're not accustomed to eating beans—tofu is, after all, just naturally processed soybeans—we suggest you introduce them to your diet gradually, and begin with smaller portions. It can take a little time for your digestive system to acclimate to eating beans.
For those who avoid eating beans because of gas, we recommend investing in a bottle of Beano®, available at your supermarket or drugstore. It's an enzyme that helps you digest beans. Make sure you read the instructions on how to take it so that it will work for you.
As always, we'd love to hear your comments, and if you discover any tasty variations.
1-2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
1 14 oz package regular firm tofu (not Mori-nu style), organic if possible
Tamari, Shoyu, soy sauce, or another favorite marinade
Vegetable oil: canola, sunflower, safflower or another vegetable oil
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Drain the water from the package of tofu. Cut the tofu into three blocks of approximately 3.5" x 4.5" x 0.5".
Lay the tofu on two clean kitchen towels, then wrap the slabs to absorb excess water. Leave for five minutes.
Prepare a baking pan or toaster oven pan by oiling the baking surface with the vegetable oil.
Place the tofu in the pan and carefully pour 2 teaspoons of soy sauce over each piece. This is a conservative amount, but as you get used to this simple recipe, you can adjust it for your own taste. See below for variations on the simple soy sauce theme.
Place the tofu in the oven, and after five minutes, remove and flip the tofu on to the other side. The top will be slightly dried out and the bottom will be moist. Continue flipping every five minutes or so, usually a total of four times. The soy sauce will gradually get baked in, and the tofu will shrink, and will have a slightly crisped and caramel brown appearance on both sides.
After wrapping in towels, you can press the tofu under something moderately heavy, or repeat the wrapping step a second time, to further dry out the tofu in order to absorb more soy sauce and flavoring.
You can extend the baking time to 30 minutes to further crisp the tofu and concentrate the flavor of the marinade.
Pour 1 teaspoon mirin—rice cooking wine—over each slab of tofu to complete the Japanese flavor combination.
Use a teriyaki marinade, or mix in a little honey and powdered ginger to the marinade. Note: anything with sugar in it will cook more quickly.
Crush some garlic into the soy sauce, or add garlic powder, for a more aromatic marinade.
Sprinkle a dash of cayenne pepper over the tofu, or add to the marinade, for a spicy kick.
Soy is a wonderfood. It is a source of the isoflavones: genistein and diadzein, and an excellent source of fiber, magnesium, and other essential nutrients. Soy can help strengthen bones; prevent some cancers, particularly breast cancer; improve cholesterol and lipids; improve circulation; and, as mentioned, is one of nature's hormone balancers. Processed tofu in the form of tofu, soy milk, and tempeh are preferable to raw soy protein powder.
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Principal Author: Daniel J. Heller, N.D.
Last Modified: February 7, 2012