Give Tofu a Chance

May 20, 2009


I get a lot of questions about tofu.  These days I think it’s something that people feel they are “supposed” to like.  Or at least “supposed” to use.  There is so much information out there about the impact that a meat based diet has on the planet and I think people are really starting to read and listen.  People who are wanting to do something to minimize their impact often find eating less meat approachable.  But what do you do if you don’t like tofu?

First of all, let me say that you don’t have to like tofu.  Even if you are a vegetarian.  And there is no rule that says a vegetarian meal has to include tofu.  I have many many recipes posted here on this blog and there are only four that include our little soy friend.  There are tons of options if you don’t want to eat meat and are afraid of soy.  Take a peek through the main course section over on the right hand side bar and I think you’ll find some lovely things to eat.

That said, I do think tofu gets a bad rap.  It’s not a meat substitute – it is it’s own thing.  The most common complaints I hear is that tofu doesn’t taste like anything and that it is mushy.  Tofu doesn’t taste like much on it’s own but it absorbs other flavors beautifully.  If you make some kind of delicious marinade or sauce, it will taste like your delicious marinade or sauce.  And mushy?  It doesn’t have to be so!  If you buy extra firm (sometimes called super firm), the texture thing goes out the window.

This salad is a new favorite of mine.  First you marinate some extra firm tofu and then roast it at relatively high heat which firms it up even more.  A bed of bean sprouts are laid on a plate, followed by thin slices of cucumber, the tofu, and an amazing peanut sauce is drizzled over the top.  It is a wonderful salad to serve with a light Asian inspired meal.  Of course, the salad is infinitely adaptable – cabbage, steamed broccoli, bok choy, even asparagus would be lovely here.  Next time I make it, I am going to double the tofu so I have some extra to snack on.  Yes, snacking on tofu.  Try it!


One Year Ago:  Fear of Filo

Indonesian Tofu, Bean Sprout, and Cucumber Salad with Spicy Peanut Sauce
Adapted from Vegetarian Classics
Serves 4

1 recipe roasted tofu (recipe follows)

Peanut Sauce:
1/4 cup natural-style peanut butter
2 tbsp. tamari soy sauce
1 tbsp. lemon or lime juice
2 tbsp. firmly packed light brown sugar
1 garlic clove, minced
1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
3 tbsp. water

The Salad:
2 cups mung bean sprouts
1 small English cucumber, sliced 1/4 inch thick
1 scallion, very thinly sliced

1.  Chill the tofu thoroughly.

2.  To make the sauce: combine all the sauce ingredients in a small bowl and beat vigourously with a fork or small whisk until very smooth.

3.  To assemble the salad: spread 1/4 of the bean sprouts on each of 4 salald plates.  Layer on 1/4 of the cucumber, followed by 1/4 of the tofu.  Drizzle the sauce over each portion and garnish with the scallion.  (DT: I added another tablespoon or so of water to the dressing to thin it out a bit.)

Roasted Tofu

1 pound extra-firm tofu
1 1/2 tbsp. tamari soy sauce
1 tbsp. Asian sesame oil
1 tbsp. dry sherry

1.  Slice the tofu into 1/2-inch-thick slices.  Place them on a clean cotton towel or on paper towels.  use another towel or more paper towels to pat the tofu very dry.  Cut into 3/4 inch cubes.

2.  Combine the soy sauce, sesame oil, and sherry in a large bowl.  Add the tofu and use a rubber spatula to gently toss it with the marinade.  Let marinate at least 30 minutes, or cover and chill up to 24 hours.

3.  Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.

4.  Place the tofu and its marinade in a single layer in a large shallow baking dish.  Bake 30-35 minutes, or until golden all over and the marinade is absorbed.  Shake the dish after 15 minutes to prevent the tofu from sticking.  Can be served warm, room temperature, or cold.


  1. My husband and I love tofu…great source of protein. Love the idea of adding peanut butter. Great combination of flavors. By the way, thank you for visiting my site.

    Comment by Juliana — May 20, 2009 @ 8:43 pm

  2. I actually like tofu. I admit it. I like telling the haters that it tastes like tofu not nothing. Your salad sounds fantastic with the peanut sauce.

    Comment by lisaiscooking — May 20, 2009 @ 9:19 pm

  3. Classic dish from SE Asia. I love it.

    Comment by elra — May 20, 2009 @ 9:28 pm

  4. We’re big tofu fans as well! This salad looks delicious, and I love cold salads that pack well for backyard and beach picnics this summer. Yum. Thanks for posting.

    Comment by Mara — May 21, 2009 @ 12:06 am

  5. Tofu is delicious, but vegetarians dont have to eat it all the time…there are plenty of other protein sources. That said, this dish sounds really good, I love the sherry in this..ive book marked to try :)

    Comment by veggiebelly — May 21, 2009 @ 12:09 am

  6. I have recently become vegetarian and am fearful of cooking tofu! I thought a tofu satay or sorts might be a nice first stab at cooking it. Thanks for the recipe! I will definitely try it!

    Comment by Natalie — May 21, 2009 @ 12:15 am

  7. I like tofu when I grill it a bit in oil. I also buy almond tofu (soft) for my smoothies. It’s delicious.

    Comment by Hélène — May 21, 2009 @ 12:17 am

  8. I agree–tofu is it’s own thing, and it’s best quality is that it absorbs whatever flavors are around it. I’ve grown to really appreciate it in the last few years. This salad looks perfect for those hot evenings that I hope are coming up :)

    Comment by The Leftoverist — May 21, 2009 @ 2:38 pm

  9. Thank you for a delicious-looking salad from this tofu lover. Honestly, it’s one of my favourite foods – when it’s cooked so it’s a highlight of the dish and not ‘hiding’ as a substitute for something else. Do you have This Can’t be Tofu! by Deborah Madison? Great book.

    Comment by Hilary — May 22, 2009 @ 6:00 pm

  10. That peanut sauce sounds really tasty!

    Comment by Kevin — May 26, 2009 @ 1:57 am

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