Friday, 13 February 2015

Crispy oven baked tofu cubes

When my kids were younger it's safe to say that tofu was not one of their favourite foods. In fact one of them genuinely thought it was called toad food and felt sorry for the toads forced to live on it day after day. A lot of the dislike stemmed from the texture (after all it doesn't have a lot of flavour to dislike). This recipe produces nice flavoursome, crispy cubes, delicious with stir fried veg and noodles. It's still tolerated rather than loved by my boys, but veggie daughter is definitely a big fan. Firm tofu is drained, then marinated before being coated in cornflour and baked in the oven to crispy perfection.

You need a block of firm tofu (I use Cauldron as it's the one that all the local supermarkets seem to stock). To get the crispy texture of the finished dish, it's really important to press and drain out as much of the liquid from the tofu as possible. Wrap it in paper towel, put on a plate, place another plate on top with a weight on it and leave for about an hour. You'll need to replace the soggy paper towels a couple of times.

pressing out the liquid under heavy weights

Cut the tofu into chunks (a couple of centimetres across) and they're ready to be marinated. I have to admit that I don't normally measure the ingredients for the marinade, adding a squirt of this and a dollop of that, so it is never the same twice. I tried to keep a note of the amounts I used this time, and the recipe for this batch is below. The ingredients that go down well with my family are mainly Chinese and Korean flavours, but I think Thai green curry flavourings might work well too, or perhaps some kind of chili peanut satay marinade. I will experiment at a later date and report my findings. Basically, you dollop the various ingredients into a ziplok bag, squish them around to mix them, then throw in the tofu cubes, toss them around in the (closed) bag until they are all nicely coated, then just leave them to marinate for a few hours. I have left them for as little as half an hour when I have forgotten to marinate them earlier and actually they were fine too.

Coriander, cumin and sesame seeds ready to be crushed for the marinade

Squish the marinade ingredients together in the bag
Toss the tofu cubes in the marinade and leave in the fridge for a couple of hours or so

Crispy Oven Baked Tofu Cubes

1 400g pack of firm tofu, drained
1 tsp sesame oil
2 tsp sunflower oil
1 tsp Korean kochujang (chili paste)
1 tsp rice wine
1 tsp rice vinegar
2 tsp dark soy sauce
1 tsp hoisin sauce
1 tsp crushed coriander seeds
1/2 tsp crushed cumin seeds
1/2 tsp crushed sesame seeds
1 clove smoked garlic, crushed
2cm piece of fresh ginger, peeled and grated
1/2 tsp Chinese five spice powder

1. Wrap the tofu in paper towels and press under a heavy weight for about an hour to remove all the liquid, changing the paper towels when they become saturated.
2. Cut the tofu into chunks of about 2cm square
3. Put all the marinade ingredients into a large ziplok bag and squish them together to mix
4. Toss in the tofu, tossing around until the pieces are all coated.
5. Leave the bag in the fridge for a couple of hours or more, tossing the tofu around a couple of times to ensure that the pieces are evenly coated.
6. Add 2 tbsp cornflour (cornstarch) to the bag and toss around to coat the tofu.
7. Tip the tofu out onto a baking sheet lined with parchment or foil to aid in the clean up.
8. Bake at 200 degrees C for about  20  - 30 minutes, until the tofu is crispy and browned.

Serve with noodles or rice stir fried with vegetables and a handful of salted peanuts.

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