Part one of a three-part series
I don’t like tofu. I’m kind of a picky eater. It’s because my sense of smell is so strong (it’s my super-power). But tofu doesn’t smell like anything really, so that can’t be my excuse. I have to fall back on “I don’t like the texture, either.” I’ve had it cubed in soups and cubed in stir-fries. It’s just so spongy and bland. I also used it once in place of ricotta in a lasagna. It was fine…and nobody knew differently until I told them. Then all of a sudden I heard, “I knew there was something different!” But that was about 15 years ago.
So I’ve decided to see if I can find a recipe I like with tofu in it besides lasagna. Hence, this new three-part series.
For this series I started by googling “tofu for people who hate tofu.” The first hit was an article on 8 reasons why you (I) hate tofu. The one fact that I didn’t know was that you’re supposed to press excess water out of tofu. I was hoping that by adding this step it would completely change me into someone who loves tofu.
The next hit was “26 recipes that will make you love tofu” from buzzfeed. I found 3 that I think are promising. Sooooo….
For my first trick…er…recipe I’m going to make Baked Sesame Tofu Sticks with Peanut Butter, Tahini, and Ginger Sauce. I love all of the ingredients in this recipe, I love all of the ingredients when mixed together AND the recipe does something different than just cube and throw it in a stir-fry.
Right off the bat I had to deal with my nemesis: the tofu. I had trouble opening the package…trying to peel the plastic away, so I had to cut it open. I did it carefully so as not to cut the actual block. I drained it in a colander. It says to drain it for 5 minutes in a colander. That sounds like overkill to me. So I drained it as long as it took me to clear my working surface of the other ingredients…3 minutes, tops.
Next came the slicing and pressing of the tofu. I sliced it horizontally, so it looked like two pieces of bread ready to make a sandwich. To press it, I laid down 3-4 sheets of folded paper towels, put the pieces of tofu side-by-side, and put 3-4 more sheets of folded paper towels on top of he tofu. Then I placed my large wooden cutting board squarely on top, placed my large enameled cast iron stew pot on top of that, then put my homemade panini brick inside of the pot. It was sufficiently heavy, so I let it press for ten minutes.
During the first pressing I made the tofu marinade. I whisked together (with my adorable mini whisk) sesame oil, soy sauce, rice vinegar, Sriracha sauce, honey and grated ginger. I used honey because I’ve heard it’s a good substitute for agave nectar. I didn’t feel like buying agave nectar when I already had honey at my disposal. I also grated the ginger instead of using dried ground ginger. In my opinion one should ALWAYS grate ginger instead of using dried ginger…unless one is in a big hurry…the taste of the two are hardly comparable.
I took the press off of the tofu, switched out the paper towels and pressed it again for 15-20 minutes.
Next, I cut the tofu into strips and put them in a baking dish. I poured the marinade over the sticks and turned each stick over a couple times to ensure they were completely and evenly coated. Then I let them sit for 20 minutes.
After marinating I transferred them to my baking stone and sprinkled sesame seeds on each side. Then I put em in an oven at 400F and baked them for 20 minutes. While they were browning, I made the dipping sauce in my food processor. I used fresh ginger, smooth peanut butter, tahini, soy sauce, honey (again, it called for agave nectar), rice vinegar and water.
I pulled the tofu out of the oven, flipped them over, and cooked them for another 10 minutes. When the timer went off I brought them out of the oven and they were a bit too done, at least some of them were
I arranged them on a plate and served them. They looked pretty tasty.
The verdict? The marinade was perfect, the dipping sauce was amazing, and the tofu was…tofu. Pretty chewy. It was ok fresh from the oven, but when I heated it up the next day for lunch it was the consistency of a tire on a hot day in Texas. So I fed them to my dog. And he loved them. Another point for the Internet I’m afraid
I really loved the flavors so I decided to try it again, using chicken instead. It was a hit! Delicious! I’m going to make these often…just not with tofu.