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Baked sriracha barbecue tofu

2013 March 25

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When I first went vegetarian two years ago, I didn’t seek out meat substitutes. Since leaving meat behind wasn’t really a problem for me — except for the occasional craving for smoked turkey sandwiches — there was no culinary void to fill.

So, long story short, that’s how I’ve managed, in all this time, to never have prepared tofu on my own. Oh, I’ve consumed plenty of it, certainly — even before going vegetarian — but it hasn’t been my favorite source of protein. It’s funky, it’s got a weird springy texture that, after several bites, leaves me quietly pushing cubes to the edge of my plate. I’ve always favored tempeh (cultured, fermented soybeans) over tofu, which I use at home quite often.

I had all but given up on tofu when I saw an older post from Kiersten on her beautiful blog, OhMyVeggies.com. I had never considered baking tofu before, and from the looks of it, I’m certain I’ve never been served it. I couldn’t wait to experiment.

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Pressing the soaking liquid from the tofu is the first key step, allowing the tofu to act not just as a sponge, but a super sponge — which, really, is its raison d’etre anyway, since it has no inherent flavor of its own — and completely, greedily soak up whatever sauces and seasonings it comes in contact with. (It stands to reason: if the tofu is already saturated with its soaking water, there’s no room for sauces to be absorbed.)

I’ve had my fair share of soggy, unpressed funky tofu from restaurants that should know better. In fact, there’s one restaurant near my office that serves tofu so soggy you can force out the soaking liquid just by pressing on a cube with the back of your fork. Ick.

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The second key is the baking. A prolonged stay in a hot oven changes tofu’s texture — for the far, far better, in my opinion. Chewier, and more substantial.

I very much enjoyed the baked tofu, and am grateful for stumbling on Kiersten’s post that day. Her sage advice has given me a new ingredient to play with (and a much belated appreciation for this vegetarian and vegan staple).

And, this particular experiment gave me an excuse to play with another favorite ingredient, sriracha. I’ve been itching to whip up a batch of sriracha laced barbecue sauce, and this was perfect opportunity to try it out.

That’s what I love about cooking — there’s always something new to learn, even if I’m way late to the party!

Baked sriracha barbecue tofu

inspired by Oh My Veggies

If you’re new to preparing tofu – like me – thoroughly pressing out the storage liquids makes all the difference. There are pressing gadgets of all sorts available for purchase, but wrapping the block in a thick layer of paper towels and placing something heavy on top will also do the trick. Press for a minimum of 30 minutes, changing the paper towels if they become saturated.

Ingredients

  • for the tofu:
  • 1 package extra firm tofu, rinsed, pressed, and sliced 1/4″ thick
  • for the barbecue marinade:
  • 3 tablespoons finely chopped onion or shallot
  • 1/2 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons shoyu or soy sauce
  • 1/2 cup ketchup
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons honey
  • 2 to 4 tablespoons sriracha sauce (depending on how spicy you like it)
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt

Instructions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Place the tofu slices on parchment lined baking sheet and set aside.
  2. In a small sauce pot, saute the onions/shallots over medium heat until soft. Stir in the tomato paste and cumin, mixing thoroughly. Add the remaining ingredients to the pot, and simmer for 5-8 minutes, or until the sauce has thickened slightly. (Because the barbecue sauce will continue “cooking” in the oven, there’s no need to cook the sauce for the typical 20-30 minutes – its sugars will still concentrate nicely.)
  3. Brush the marinade over the tofu slices and place the sheet in the oven. Bake for 20 minutes, then flip the pieces and brush with additional sauce. Bake for 20 additional minutes.
  4. Serve over your favorite dishes.
Prep Time: 40 minutes (includes pressing time)       Cook time: 50 minutes       Yield: 4-6 servings



Comments:

9 Responses Post a comment
  1. March 25, 2013

    When reading this post, I felt like you were reading my thoughts! We’ve been vegetarian for a year and I’ve made tofu once – without success. I always use tempeh or seitan for their great texture. I’m soooo gonna make this tofu. Like tonight! How long did you let it go pressed?

    • Karen @ Leaf & Grain permalink*
      March 25, 2013

      The first time, it (accidentally) got pressed for 24 hours (accidentally, because dinner plans changed last minute). The second and third times, it was about an hour. I can’t say I really noticed a difference between the 24 hour and the 1 hour which is a good thing (although I hope being outside of water for that long is okay … I didn’t get sick, but I’ll have to look that up before doing it again).

  2. March 25, 2013

    I’m so glad you like tofu now–hooray! It took me a while to warm up to tofu too, and I’ve also had my fair share of badly prepared restaurant tofu. In fact, I think it was that restaurant tofu that had me convinced that I didn’t like it for so long. Sriracha barbecue sauce sounds perfect for this recipe!

    • Karen @ Leaf & Grain permalink*
      March 25, 2013

      You definitely saved tofu for me. The effect of baking is night and day (although, I think it’s made me hate restaurant tofu all the more, since now I know how good it can be ;) ).

  3. March 25, 2013

    Tofu can be really tough – there is some very good tofu out there and some very bad tofu.
    This is a great preparation. I love the BBQ sauce components.

    To date, my favorite way to have it is cut into slices, pressed, tossed in nutritional yeast (in lieu of bread crumbs) and baked – served up with a “dip” of agave nectar and chili paste. The peeps love it that way.

    • Karen @ Leaf & Grain permalink*
      March 29, 2013

      I think I’d love it, too!

    • Cher permalink
      April 15, 2013

      P.S. We made this for dinner last night – loved it! (Had to tone down the sriracha for the peeps, though.) Served it with orange scented-buttered peas – wish I had remembered to cook a grain to go with it (some freekeh with herbs in it would have been really nice).

      This one’s a keeper.

  4. March 29, 2013

    Just mention the word Sriracha and you got me! This sounds wonderful!

  5. April 3, 2013

    If you freeze the tofu and let it thaw in the fridge the night before using it, you will be able to squeeze out twice as much water! It makes a WORLD of difference. Also, coating it in cornstarch helps.

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