Caramelized Sesame Tofu

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This recipe is near and dear to my heart, as it was a creation of mine for Crossroads Cafe. When I created the menu, I knew exactly what I wanted the tofu to be. I just wasn’t sure how I would get it that way! And while the marinade was clearly important, as I wanted the tofu to be rich in flavor (no flavorless tofu here!), the texture was most important to be. I wanted it to be browned on the top and clearly baked. It’d have a soft inside, but the outside would have a slight crisp to it.

As this recipe has gone through many, many trials, since it was made about twice a week for the past year, I recommend following it to a tee. Although the draining process is a bit cumbersome, it’s important to get the tofu browned and baked perfectly.

Caramelized Sesame Tofu
Makes about 7 servings

  • 2 (12-ounce) containers extra-firm tofu
  • 2/3 cup soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup rice vinegar
  • 1/4 cup toasted sesame oil
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1/2” piece of fresh ginger
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil

Take tofu out of container. First, you will drain the tofu of water by pressing it with a weight. The best way to do this is to wrap the tofu in several paper towels and lay it on a deep-dish baking pan (the reason for deep-dish is so that water won’t leak). Place another pan on top of the tofu and place something heavy on top of the pan, like a can. Let tofu sit like this for at least 30 minutes, preferably 1 hour.

Meanwhile, combine soy sauce, rice vinegar, sesame oil, garlic, ginger, and oil in a blender. Blend until garlic and ginger have fully broken down.

Preheat oven to 350. Take tofu and dab with paper towels to pick up any excess water. Then cut into 1/2” size cubes. Put back into deep-dish pan, and pour marinade over tofu. Let the tofu marinate for at least thirty minutes (you can marinate for up to three hours, and probably overnight, although I haven’t tried it).

Drain about 7/8 of the marinade out of the pan, reserving about a quarter of the marinade. Place in oven for 22 minutes. That seemed to be the perfect number for us, although ovens are different, so it may be between 20-25 minutes. If you want to get a little extra browning on top, broil for the last minute. Then take out, let cool, and serve warm or cold.

This tofu can last up to one week in an airtight container in the fridge. It’s great with stir-fried vegetables and brown rice, or on top of a salad. As you can see above, I served it with sliced almonds, quinoa, caramelized onions, and broccoli. Even though the tofu has an Asian flavor to it, you can pair with any salad- I used to eat it with a Balsamic-dressed salad all the time, and it was delicious.

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