This might be my new favorite way to make tofu now. Because crispy! *happy food dance* But also healthy because these little dudes are baked, not fried. It’s one of my things, baked instead of fried. You can put these on EVERYTHING! The photo above is of the crispy tofu in my vegan palak paneer. Thanks to David Lebovitz and Joe Yonan for sharing this amazingness with the world!
Both the original recipes call for marinating the tofu. Certainly do this if you want to, especially if you’re planning to feature it as the star of a dish you’re making with it and you want it to have lots of flava. If you’d like to try it with the marinade, please see the original recipe, or use your own.
I’ve tried it both ways – marinated, and unmarinated with a simple seasoning of salt & pepper. I’m giving you the salt & pepper version, because it’s SO EASY. I couldn’t stop popping even these “plain” salt & pepper ones in my mouth as I was supposed to be putting them in my vegan palak paneer. Heehee. The sign of a winning recipe! Can’t stop the music!
SIMPLE CRISPY BAKED TOFU
Adapted from David Lebovitz, who adapted it in turn from Eat Your Vegetables: Bold Recipes for the Single Cook (I totally want this book now)
1 pound firm tofu
Fine sea salt & freshly ground pepper
1 T. cornstarch
Equipment: Tofu press, small sieve, baking sheet, parchment paper (aluminum foil would also work)
Press the tofu: Whyyyy? Well, padawan, you have to press the tofu so it’s not too watery and it will crisp up. If you’re marinating, it also makes it thirsty for the marinade.
If you don’t have a tofu press, you can press the tofu like this: Drain the brick of tofu, and place it on a thick pad of paper towels on a plate. Put another plate on top of the tofu and place a heavy can of something (beans, tomatoes, soup, whatever) on top. Let stand 30 minutes. Go do something else, or get your cook on, with whatever this is going in.
If you do have a tofu press (and if you like tofu, or want to get to know it better, it is TOTALLY worth the small investment and storage space in your kitchen) – put your brick of tofu between its presser plates, tighten down the screws so tight you think it might be about to break up, and press it for 20-30 minutes. I usually stand mine on its side in the sink or if the sink is busy, in a bowl.
Season the tofu: Cut the pressed tofu into 1″ cubes.
If you’re marinating, mix up your marinade and marinate your cubes for 2-8 hours, whatever your marinade recipe recommends. (Not too long so they don’t get mushy.) Be sure to shake off as much marinade as you can, and pat them dry, before the next step so they will get nice and crispy.
If you’re not marinating, just sprinkle your tofu generously with salt & pepper or whatever seasonings you like (remember, tofu has little flavor of its own so spice it up!).
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F, so it’s ready whenever you are done marinating or just seasoning. Line your baking sheet with parchment paper or foil. Spray it with cooking spray.
Dust ’em and bake ’em: You want to FINELY dust these cubes with cornstarch (cornstarch makes the crispy). If you have anyone around that can help you by gently stirring the tofu while you sift the cornstarch over, great. If not, just pause between (sift, stir, sift, stir, etc.). Take a small strainer or sifter, and just sift cornstarch evenly over the cubes until they are LIGHTLY covered with cornstarch. Stir ’em, then lightly sift some more until all are covered with just a dusting. If they are too dusted, meaning you can SEE lots of dry cornstarch, they’ll be kind of like an overpowdered celebrity, but you’ll live and they’ll still be delicious and you’ll use less next time.
Transfer the cubes to your baking sheet, spread in a single layer with space between, spray the tops with cooking spray (for extra crispy) and bake for 45 minutes, turning the cubes a couple of times during the baking. They should be crisp and brown when they’re done. Enjoy! Or add to another recipe. Or keep ’em in the fridge (original recipe says 3-4 days is OK).