We’ve been on a bit of a tofu kick lately, and have been buying the big family packs from Costco even though there’s only two of us. But whenever I make one of these two preparations we gobble it all up! I actually don’t like tofu as a meat substitute (had a goat cheese salad last night with grilled tofu on it; ick), which is why I like these two recipes so much: the tofu doesn’t pretend to be meat, it’s just delicious squishy flavorful tofu!
Note: both of these recipes require thinking ahead. Not a lot of effort, but they just aren’t as good if it’s half an hour til you eat and you throw them together. For the fried tofu, it’s fine to prepare in the morning (5 minutes, if that), and cook for dinner. For the baked tofu, I think it’s better to prepare the night before and let marinate for a whole day.
First, my mom’s fried tofu with garlic and lemongrass. This stuff is addictive and very, very easy. Lots of recipes say to press your tofu to make it firm/get the water out, but that takes effort. You can also leave tofu uncovered on a plate, and the fridge will dry it out. Yay!
If you eat lemongrass ever, I suggest planting it! We have so much lemongrass and it’s so fresh and delicious and I do nothing to take care of it! Start by finely chopping about 3 TB of lemongrass (more is better).
Then mince a bunch of garlic. Lots of recipes say to use 1 or 2 cloves of garlic (I mean any recipe anywhere for anything), and I always use 6 or 7. I love garlic!
Chop up your tofu into slabs: my mom cuts one of these blocks into 6 slabs; I like to cut those in half. Arrange on a plate to maximize exposed surface area (I mean, lay them flat). Cover liberally with garlic and lemongrass, and a bunch of salt (a TB or so). Put it in the fridge, exposed, for a day (or two).
When you’re ready to cook, heat some oil in a pan over medium-high heat, and carefully put in your tofu. Don’t overcrowd them (this’ll probably take two batches or two pans). Leave for about 4 minutes, until golden, and then flip over and leave for another 2-3 minutes.
You can cook them longer, so they’re crispy, but I like them less crispy. After you’re done frying all the tofu, toss in that garlic and lemongrass and let it cook til golden brown and a little crispy. Delicious crunchy topping! Also, cut up some green onion and heat it in oil, then pour over the whole thing.
Second, my marinated and baked tofu. Similar idea: dump stuff on tofu, let it sit, and cook it. This time, cut up the tofu into smaller pieces: I do rectangles, just half the size of the previous recipe. You don’t have to be religious about draining it this time either, I like to leave a little liquid in.
Also, try to use a tofu-sized container for this, preferably with a lid. I’ve done this in a bowl and the tofu doesn’t get as much flavor. Less space for moving = more tofu submerged in deliciousness= more flavorful tofu.
If you have a mortar and pestle, this recipe is great! Just smash up some garlic and ginger, no need to worry about making them small or uniform: we’re just trying to infuse the flavors in. If you don’t, just slice them up and toss them on top of the tofu.
Now the fun part! Pour on 1-2 TB of soy sauce, 1 TB of sesame oil, 1 TB rice vinegar. If you have it, add 1 TB rice wine for cooking, and 1 tsp of fish sauce (I love fish sauce; I am Vietnamese).
Close your container and give it a shake, then leave it in the fridge for awhile (I’ve left it for two days and it’s awesome). Turn it upside down every now and then if you want.
Once you’re an hour out from eating, turn the oven to 350, shake the tofu out onto an oiled baking sheet, and toss em in. You can turn them if you aren’t lazy like me, or just bake them for 50-60 minutes until they look and smell delicious. Don’t forget to put the garlic and ginger in there too. This stuff is addictive.
My mom’s garlic-lemongrass fried tofu:
3 TB minced lemongrass
3 TB minced garlic
2 TB finely chopped green onion
1 lb tofu (1 16-oz package)
Chop tofu into thick slabs. Cover liberally with lemongrass and garlic, and sprinkle heavily with salt (1-2 TB). Arrange on a plate and let marinate for a day or two.
Heat up a thick frying pan with a drizzle of vegetable oil (1-2 TB), add tofu, being careful not to overcrowd. Do not touch! Fry for four minutes on one side, then turn and fry 2-3 on the other side. After finishing the tofu, fry the remaining lemongrass/garlic for a few minutes until crispy. Add 2 TB more oil to the pan, and add the green onion for just 1 minute, until wilted. Top tofu with crispy lemongrass/garlic and green onion oil.
Marinated baked tofu, adapted from food.com
1 lb tofu
1 TB each: soy sauce, sesame oil, rice vinegar, fish sauce, rice wine (optional)
1 inch piece of ginger
6 garlic cloves
Cut tofu into cubes, draining off most of water. Put into a small container. Smash garlic and ginger, removing peels, and put on top of tofu. Add all remaining ingredients. Close container, if possible, and leave in fridge for 8-60 hours.
Heat oven to 350. Oil a baking sheet, and pour tofu and garlic/ginger out onto it. Bake for one hour.