Maybe I finally figured out how to cook tofu


I’m good at cooking lots of things. I can do a million things with beans. I can make a mean pb&j (it’s an art! the proportion of pb & j needs to be perfect). I can bake just about any sweet you can think of-cookies, quick breads, thousands and thousands of french macaroons (remember those, Mom?). But one thing I’ve never been able to perfect is tofu. Yeah, I’ve shown a few recipes where I’ve gotten tofu right. But, for every tofu recipe I got right, I got about 5 wrong. Yup. 5. That’s a huge proportion of failure vs. success. I’ve tried baking it, searing it, sauteeing it, everything you can think of. And I’ve almost never gotten it right. There’s something about it that perplexes my mind. It ends up flavorless even if I marinate it intensely, it ends up falling apart, it ends up too spongy: it ends up not good. But, no matter how many times I’ve messed up, I never give up.

So, a while back (geez, maybe a month ago-possibly more?), I set out to bake up a block of tofu. Doing my typical make-something-on-sunday-to-eat-during-the-week move, it was going to be part of my dinner for several days that week. So, after pressing the tofu for about 30 minutes, I cut it up into about 8 or so pieces (although I really don’t remember-it was a loooong time ago), and set it to marinade in a loaf pan-my favorite pan to marinate/bake in. I marinated it in tamari, 5 spice powder, a little bit of rice vinegar and honey, for about 45 minutes. When I decided it was marinated enough, I stuck it in an oven at 375 or so (remember, long time ago). In the past when I’ve made tofu this way, which is pretty often, I’ve baked it for about 35-40 minutes. It hasn’t been great, but it’s edible. This time, after I stuck it in the oven…I forgot all about it.

I try to be responsible in the kitchen, but sometimes I’m not. My most common problem is that I forget about things cooking. I’ve burnt cookies this way, caused oatmeal to overflow, and once, while living in Spain, let a pot of boiling water evaporate completely and scorched the pot. This time, with the tofu, I did it again. I must have gotten distracted in some intense conversation with my roommate (probably about something important, like the upcoming election, or Gossip Girl), but all of a sudden, it was two hours later. I kept thinking it was really warm in the apartment and all of a sudden, I realized why: the oven was on and my tofu had been bakin’ away for about 2 hours. S***!!!!!! I was sure I was going to open up the oven and find 8 teeny pieces of black, shriveled up, hard as rock, things that used to be tofu. Instead, I opened it up and found 8, smaller, but scrumptious looking pieces of tofu. They were a gorgeous, caramel-y color that smelled fantastic. Yes-much smaller than what I normally have after I bake tofu, but 2 hours of sitting in a hot oven will do that to you.

When I ate some for dinner the next night, what did I eat: perfect, flavorful, chewy tofu. It. was. so. good. Look at the close up!


You can see how the flavor inundated the entire piece as the water evaporated. And they tasted that way too-by far the best tofu I’ve ever eaten. Yeah-cause the pieces were so good I ate it really fast, but I guess that’s the price to pay for really really really yummy tofu. But hey, now I’ve got 3 good tofu cookings under my belt. 3 out of 11-not bad.

So, friends, tell me this: is the secret to good tofu just baking the hell out of it? Was this just a fluke accident that ended up with excellent yumminess? How do you make tofu to make it good?


14 Responses to “Maybe I finally figured out how to cook tofu”

  1. 1 VeggieGirl July 29, 2008 at 9:54 pm

    You should ask Em from the “Gliding Calm” blog ( about the “secret” to making great tofu – she’s definitely a pro at it!! :0)

  2. 2 Alice (in Veganland) July 30, 2008 at 12:16 pm

    Apparently, the secret for good tofu is to not take it too seriously :-). Great job! And you made me laugh a lot, hehe.

  3. 4 carrie July 30, 2008 at 2:17 pm

    i wonder if you could get the same result by cooking it for a shorter time at a higher temp, because i don’ think that it should take that long . . . . maybe 375 isn’t high enough.

  4. 5 Jess July 30, 2008 at 3:38 pm

    Well hello ms Betsy! I am just checking out your blog for the first time here and JUST MY LUCK you do a post on tofu, something I have been struggling with for a while. This is a sign I believe! Very informative site you’ve got here! i shall be adding you to my blog roll 🙂
    Thanks for the tofu tips! 🙂

  5. 6 lindzakins921 July 30, 2008 at 7:19 pm

    yummy looking tofu – i agree, you definitely mastered it based on that pic!

    hope you have a great night and so happy to read your posts again 🙂

  6. 7 fikalo July 30, 2008 at 10:31 pm

    wow, that sounds really nice!!

  7. 8 shifeng July 31, 2008 at 7:16 am

    Hmm.. There are quite a few types of tofu really. And many ways of making great tofu dishes. One of which is to cook them in soup. Another is to braise them. There really is lots of ways. I know of quite many Oriental ways of doing them up, but this is the first time I’ve heard of baking tofu. Good job there. The product sure looks good

  8. 9 Denise August 1, 2008 at 9:03 am

    Hey Betsy! Thanks for the tip, I bought some fresh tofu last night, and I’m coking it for dinner later. Will ‘forget’ it in the oven for 2 hours and check the results. I normally leave it there for about 30 minutes.
    I like your attitude! Home cooked food is just so much better for so many reasons!
    Keep it up!

  9. 10 Denise August 1, 2008 at 12:55 pm

    HI! I’m doing it, but it’s now been 1 hour and 15 minutes, and I’m gonna eat it! That tofu can’t wait any longer! read: i’m starving! : )
    I’ll let you know how it went.

  10. 11 caitlinbo (see bride run) August 1, 2008 at 4:10 pm

    haha tofu is HARD! the best tofu i ever had was a chinese rest, and i asked the chef if he could tell me how he made it, and of course it was fried. but it was worth it. 😉

  11. 12 Denise August 3, 2008 at 3:07 am

    I think I ran out of marinade in the baking tin… I’ll try again tonight, but I’ll leave lots of the juices in there with the tofu. Mine just probably dried out completely… : ) It was so funny, I could believe the result! Just like chips!
    Have a nice Sunday! d

  12. 13 Amy February 25, 2011 at 10:07 pm

    Smashed with parmesain(vegan of course) and garlic spices in a vegan lasnaga! Yummm!

  13. 14 Eric Cisneros September 29, 2011 at 7:08 pm

    I struggled with cooking tofu for a long time. There is a really good vegetarian restaurant near my house and every time I eat there I am reminded that you can cook tofu and make it delicious!

    Here’s how, the secret is to cut your tofu so its 1/2 inch thick. Then diagonally cut it so your square becomes 2 triangles. Then lightly press it to get some of the moisture out, careful not to break it. Then use a non stick pan and dry-fry your tofu triangles at low to med temps. Do not use any oil, this is very important. The point is to let the heat evaporate the moisture out of the tofu, without burning it. So your tofu becomes like a sponge, ready to absorb some liquid flavor!

    Your tofu will be golden when its about done. take it off the heat & marinate it for the next 1/2 hour. It should absorb some of the marinade. Now its stir fry time!

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