My friend Michelle was vegan for about ten years, and during that time I’m pretty sure she cooked tofu in every way ever invented by humankind. And then some.
She’s easily the best tofu chef I’ve ever come across (and I’ve certainly eaten my share of tofu). My hands-down favorite is her baked tofu. She tells me that the secret is simple: “Bake the hell out of it!”
Her recipe is adapted from a stir fry sauce found in Mollie Katzen’s The Enchanted Broccoli Forest, though Michelle definitely changes it up quite a bit:
I’ve kept the idea for orange juice and soy sauce as the base, but I think I use more juice and less soy sauce than the official recipe. I keep the honey and sesame oil, and also add hot sauce and a bit of olive oil. I omit the ginger and garlic because they burn as a consequence of cooking the tofu for so long, and cornstarch is just not necessary.
- 1 pound firm tofu
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- ¾ cup orange juice
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 10 shakes Original Tabasco Brand Hot Sauce
- 1 tablespoon.sweetener: Sweetened Teriyaki Sauce, Maple Syrup, or Honey
- 1 tablespoon rice vinegar (or other vinegar)
- 1-2 teaspoons sesame oil
- Drain the tofu and cut into even slices, about 1″ thick. Press the tofu to get out as much moisture as possible. It’s really important to get as much water out of the tofu as you can. Michelle uses this technique: Place a clean kitchen towel on the counter, and then layer several paper towels on one half of the towel. Place the slices on the paper towels, cover them with a few more paper towels, then fold the other half of the towel on top. Place a cutting board or other flat surface on top, and then add some weight on top (several large cans of food work well). Let sit for at least 10 minutes, longer if possible.
- While the tofu is pressing, combine the other ingredients in a bowl. Lightly grease a 9×9 or 8×8 baking dish (or line with aluminum foil for easier cleanup). Place the tofu slices in a single layer in the dish, and then pour marinade evenly over the tofu.
- Bake uncovered at 450°F for about 45 minutes, or until the marinade is nearly evaporated. (If you need to bake something else at a lower temperature at the same time, baking the tofu at 350°F will work fine, too.)