Being a vegetarian, I am always looking for different proteins that can add taste and variety to a dish. One of my favorites is tofu. I know a lot of people don't like tofu either for its taste (or lack thereof) or its texture. Personally, I feel that the taste part is actually an advantage because it can soak up a lot of flavor and you can make it taste good! As for the texture, I am also not a fan of the soft texture of tofu; even extra firm tofu is not dense or firm enough for me - hence the baking!
This baked tofu has a texture similar to Indian paneer (firm farmers cheese made from cow/buffalo milk which can easily be cut into cubes). I like to make a big batch and use it in different recipes but it is great to just snack on as well. Additional bonus – it requires absolutely no oil or butter unlike fried tofu!
Extra firm tofu - 1 pack (14 oz)
For the marinade:
3 tbsp Soy sauce
1 tbsp rice vinegar (other vinegar will work too)
1 tsp mustard (I used honey mustard)
1 tsp honey (optional)
2 cloves crushed garlic
3 tbsp water (adjust so that there is enough marinade to coat the tofu and have about half of it still left in pan).
You can use any other marinade of your choice, just make sure it has enough liquid for the tofu to soak up.
Heat oven to 400 deg F.
Use a microwave safe and oven proof dish if possible (I generally use an 8x8 glass baking pan) to mix all the marinade ingredients in.
Drain the block of tofu and slice it at least 1/2 inch thick (~5-6 slices for a block of tofu). Using a paper towel gently press each slice between your palms to drain more liquid. Don't squish the tofu too much - you don't want it to crumble. Wring out the paper towel after every slice.
Cut each slice in half (optional), and place the tofu in the baking dish with the marinade. Let it sit for a few seconds and turn all the pieces over. Repeat a couple times to let the tofu soak the marinade.
Microwave on high, 2 minutes at a time, turning the pieces over each time until the marinade is almost completely soaked - but not all dry. I needed 4 minutes on each side.
At this point transfer to oven proof baking pan if you were not using one to begin with. Place in preheated oven for 15-20 minutes before flipping the tofu over. Let it bake for another 10 minutes. Check the texture of the tofu. If it is still too soft for your liking continue to bake a little longer. To finish it off, broil each side on the Low setting for about 2-3 minutes. You can let it crisp up if you like it that way.
Remove from oven and let it cool down a little before slicing further if required (otherwise it will fall apart easily). This goes really well with Asian flavored stir fries or even on top of a simple salad.
Notes: If you are not a fan of using microwave for cooking, you could skip that step and increase baking time. Another option is to reduce the liquid on stovetop on low heat, turning the tofu pieces every few minutes – then finish it off in the oven.
If you have leftovers, store them in the refrigerator. You could eat it cold or at room temperature, but if you want to reheat, microwave only for a few seconds - it can get chewy if you microwave for too long.