Dry-Fried Marinated Tofu
Ever since I discovered this tofu technique, it’s basically the only way I ever prepare the stuff now. When tofu is just left as is (what the heck, salad bars), I’m only okaaaay with it. But when tofu is done right I could sing an opera about the stuff. And a large part of that is that tofu is so obliging about taking on new flavors, it really just wants to please (what a nice guy!), so the least you can do is make sure that it’s given what it asks for, and helping it along on the way to Delicious City.
The basic concept here is that we’re going to heat the tofu in a dry pan to help it lose its moisture–this also helps give it a bit more of an interesting texture. Then we soak it in a tasty marinade and because you’ve already dried it out a bit it sucks up all the flavorful liquid like a thirsty sponge. This is more of a method than a recipe.
- Extra-firm tofu
- Marinade–I usually use tofu in Asian dishes, so my marinade is usually something like a lot of soy sauce, a medium amount of rice vinegar or lime juice and sesame oil, and smaller amounts of honey/agave and spicy sauce. Throw some crushed garlic and grated ginger in there if you’re really feeling like a party. Mix well, taste, adjust, repeat until happy.
Start by cutting your tofu into relatively thin pieces and placing them in a single layer in a frying pan over medium-low heat. You might have to do a couple rounds of this part depending on how much tofu you have.
Once they’re heated up a bit, press down on the slices with a spatula–you should hear a sizzle as water is pressed out of the tofu slices. Keep doing this occasionally for 5 minutes or so (make your marinade in between!), until when you peek at their undersides they’re slightly golden and look dry.
Flip the slices over with the spatula and repeat the pressing process–it’ll take way less time on this side, so keep peeking underneath them.
Hopefully you’ve made your marinade by now! Go ahead and dump your dry-fried tofu in.
I never make enough marinade to cover, so I just stir it around every few minutes to make sure the tofu gets enough of the good stuff. You can now use the tofu as is or fry it again, which gives it a chewier texture. And save the marinade to use as a stir-fry sauce!
I used this particular tofu in a noodle and edamame dish from Yotam Ottolenghi’s Plenty that I mainly took a picture of because it’s rare that anything I make from a cookbook ends up looking this much like the original picture.