One of my favorite culinary challenges is converting tofu-haters into tofu-lovers. It’s a two-step recipe conversion program that involves using the same recipe but different cooking techniques. With both methods I begin by slicing tofu into squares, draining them well, then marinating the slices for an hour. In the first step of the program, I fry the tofu. One bite of this crispy, creamy “fillet” and I see the delight in my tofu-hating subject’s eyes. They have made the leap, the conversion process has begun!
In the second and final step of the program, I use the same preparation but bake the tofu instead of frying it. After having just finished the fried tofu, I note slightly less enthusiasm in my subject’s eye with this baked version. I then remind them of the caloric savings in baking as opposed to frying, and the dish is gobbled down in minutes. This two-step program works like a charm; I have yet to meet a subject that did not, eventually, see the silky white light.
Protein-rich and cholesterol-free, tofu comes in a variety of textures: Soft, firm, and extra-firm. The water-packed tofu tends to be more firm. Silken tofu is best for puddings, dips and some desserts since it’s smoother and less grainy. Soft tofu is usually too soft for stir-fries and firm tofu may be too grainy for some desserts and dips, etc. In this recipe firm or soft tofu works fine, it just depends if you want the creamier, more delicate texture of soft tofu, or the meatier texture of firm tofu–I prefer the soft.
I enjoy serving these baked tofu squares on a bed of stir-fried julienned Asian vegetables such as bok choy, shitake mushrooms, cilantro, carrots or colorful bell peppers. I use leftover tofu marinade to season the stir-fry. Pre-packs of Asian stir-fry vegetables are available in the produce sections of most groceries and markets, as well. The tofu may also be cubed and served as an appetizer with an Asian dipping sauce.