Baked sriracha barbecue tofu
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.
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.
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.
- 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
- Preheat the oven to 400°F. Place the tofu slices on parchment lined baking sheet and set aside.
- 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.)
- 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.
- Serve over your favorite dishes.