Healthy Cooking Thursday! Crispy Tofu


tofu cake

Draining the tofu by pressing it on a wire rack improves its texture

In honor of Meatless Mondays, featured in Marsha’s blog post here a couple of weeks back, I give you my favorite method of preparation for firm or, even better, extra firm tofu. Here at Green Mountain we serve Vermont Soy tofu, a local, organic product. Yay, sustainability…and deliciousness!

Whether you are a tofu fanatic or a complete novice, this yummy (and gluten free!) recipe imparts a great flavor (dare I say meaty?) and texture to one of the most versatile proteins in existence.  Fish sauce isn’t an ingredient that is extraordinarily popular in my neck of the woods, but it’s one that I would never allow myself to run out of again.  My friend Maria gave me a bottle a few years back and told me to put it in scrambled eggs, and I fell in LOOOOOVE.

If you have never cooked with it before, I will warn you to avoid smelling it before you try it cooked.  The odor of it right out of the bottle is almost offensive, and an unfair representation of the rich, complex,and amazing flavor it brings to a dish.  I have learned to truly respect and even enjoy it’s pungent odor, but only after many delicious Thai inspired dishes.

If you are vegan, or can’t find fish sauce (Asian markets and better supermarkets should carry it), you can replace the fish sauce with soy sauce, or tamari, which is wheat free.  In a pinch, you can replace the rice flour with all-purpose flour, but I find the rice flour provides a better crisp.  In fact, rice flour is a fantastic dredging substitute for all-purpose flour in most recipes, such as our Lemon Cantonese Chicken or Eggplant Parmesan.  As for the Sriracha hot sauce…live a little and put it in.  I would not leave it out myself.  🙂

Crispy Tofu

one package of extra firm or firm tofu (usually 12-16 ounces)

1/4 cup fish sauce

2 tablespoons minced ginger

1/2 teaspoon Sriracha (also known as Rooster sauce; it’s a hot sauce that usually has a rooster on the bottle)

3 tablespoons pineapple juice

1/4 cup water

1/2 cup rice flour

nonstick spray

Place a wire rack over a shallow dish.  Lay the block of tofu on the wire rack and lay a cutting board on the block of tofu (see picture above).  If necessary, add weight to the cutting board to press more moisture out of the tofu.  Allow to drain for about a half an hour.

In the meantime, prepare the marinade.  Combine the fish sauce, ginger, sriracha, pineapple juice, and water.  I like to use a glass container that is just a little bigger than the block of tofu.  When the tofu is done draining, cut it into even strips or blocks.  I like to do long, finger sized pieces myself.  Place it in the marinade, stir it around a bit, cover, and refrigerate.  (If the marinade doesn’t cover the tofu, that’s okay.  Tofu is like a sponge, and the marinade will permeate thanks to capillary action as long as 1/3 of it or so is submerged.)  Marinate at least 8 hours or up to 2 days.

Preheat your oven to 425 degrees and prep a baking sheet with nonstick canola spray.  Shake each piece of tofu after you take it out of the marinade to remove excess moisture, then dredge in the rice flour, coating evenly on all sides.  Place each piece of tofu on the prepared baking pan.  Spray very well with the canola nonstick spray (resist the urge to skimp here) and slide it in the oven.

Cook for 10 minutes, then flip each piece of tofu over (for best results) and cook an additional 10 minutes.  Enjoy!  This recipe is very good as leftovers, by the way.  And you can find more vegetarian recipes in our healthy recipe archives.

What’s your favorite flavor to add to the blank canvas of tofu?

6 responses to “Healthy Cooking Thursday! Crispy Tofu”

  1. Lauren says:

    Hey Lisa,
    Thanks for the great tofu tips and the yummy looking recipe! You’re awesome. Is there something in particular you might recommend subbing for fish sauce if you don’t eat fish/are vegan?
    As for the answer to your question, my favourite flavour to add to tofu is a sauce with maple syrup in it (mixed with something savoury to balance out the sweet)

  2. Chef Lisa says:

    Hey Lauren – you’re awesome! 🙂 As I said in the blog, soy sauce or tamari is a good sub for the fish sauce.

  3. Cindy says:

    I love these things. I highly recommend this recipe to those of you out there who ‘think’ you hate tofu. It really is delicious. I’m so happy when it’s on the menu for lunch. (No big secret to you!)

  4. Lisa in Jersey says:

    Sounds awesome, Lis. Being the Italian girl that I am, I feel completely lost at sea when it comes to preparing tofu. Consequently it comes out kind of watery and tasteless, so I haven’t had the best experiences. Fish sauce definitely sounds like a secret weapon for flavor though! Matt loves Pad See Euw from our local Thai place in Bridgewater but I’ll never tell him there’s fish sauce in there giving it awesome taste (he’d never eat it again if he knew…).

  5. Chef Lisa says:

    Thanks ladies! Cindy, this one is a bit different from the sesame tofu you’re used to…but I agree, that one’s a keeper.

  6. Melissa S. says:

    Nice and a very healthy recipe. Tofu is one of the most healthiest foods in the world. Creating a recipe that can make the “tofu haters” eat tofu is really great especially making it delicious that everbody will love.

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