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Crisp Baked Tofu

We’re always freaking out about what to eat for dinner. Not on the weekend, on the weekend we enjoy the question, but during the week it is another story. At some point during the workday one of us will text or e-mail the other something along the lines of: WTF dinner?

I like cooking, but like many of you I have a 9-5 (ish) job and a commute on either end of that day. I don’t have the energy to do too much for dinner. We tend to eat a combination of pieced together pantry/fridge meals, pick-up, and occasionally eat dinner out. You would not believe I had a food blog from my typical weeknight diet. It consists of a lot of improvised salads, fried rice, and the occasional pizza bagel. But once in a while, we’ll put in a little more effort. We might even plan ahead and make something on Sunday that will last us a few days into the week. This tofu is a good example.

I found the recipe on David Lebovitz’s blog a few months ago and tried it almost immediately. It is great, and an easy addition to a bowl of rice and roasted vegetables. It’s relatively simple to make, and keeps for a few days in the fridge. It doesn’t keep the crisp (which, to be honest, isn’t that crisp to begin with) but I like it just as much a couple of days later. It relies on a unique method of pressing the tofu to remove excess moisture and then marinating it a delicious blend of Asian flavors. You should reserve the marinade and use it as a dipping sauce, the tofu adds a nice creaminess to the marinade that I really enjoy.

Last week we roasted a pan full of vegetables and made a batch of this tofu and were set for dinners for a couple of days. Brown rice tossed with the leftover marinade rounded things out. It looked like this:

Crisp Baked Tofu (adapted from David Lebovitz [1], who adapted it from Joe Yonan [2])

Drain the tofu, wrap it in a double-thickness of paper towel, then place it on a plate. Put another plate on top of the tofu and place a heavy can of beans or tomatoes on top of it to weigh it down. Let stand 30 minutes.

Unwrap the tofu, wipe it dry, and cut it into 1-inch (3cm) cubes.

In a large, zip-top freezer bag, mix the sesame oil, soy sauce, rice wine, rice vinegar, garlic, ginger, water, Sriracha, and salt, if using. (See Note at end of recipe.) Add the tofu and toss the cubes in the marinade. Lay the bag on a plate and refrigerate for a minimum of 2 hours, or up to 8 hours, turning the bag a few times while marinating.

Preheat the oven to 350ºF (180ºC.)

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Drain the tofu (the marinade can be reserved, refrigerated, and used for a dipping sauce), then put the tofu cubes in a large bowl. Using a mesh sieve or strainer, sift the corn starch over the tofu pieces, working in batches as you sprinkle them with the corn starch.

Transfer the tofu cubes to the prepared baking sheet and bake, turning the cubes several times during baking, until they are crisp and browned, about 45 minutes.