It has been a while folks. Amidst new homes, new jobs, and new family – it’s been a heck of a ride these past few months. But let us waste no more time and jump right into one of my favorite weeknight meals!
Smoky, savory, spicy. These are the mouthwatering words that come to mind when thinking of this dish. I’m often pressed for time weekdays – right after work, Aly and I workout and then continue working on our own projects until bedtime. We’re always ravenous after the workouts and need something satisfying enough to give us energy to work the rest of the evening. I love that this meal can be prepped in advance and comes together in a surprising ten minutes when I’m ready. One serving has a whopping 19g of protein and only 185 calories – a perfect addition to our workout regiment.
Now, most people are averse to soy, more often than not because it can be quite bland with an off-putting texture – that is, if you haven’t cooked it right! Soy is high in protein, and like all beans, a great source of fiber and iron. Truly good tofu can be flavorful with a pleasant chewiness and thus a great addition to your diet in terms of both nutrition and variety. You just have to know how to treat it.
First, be sure to press any excess liquid out of the tofu. I slice my block into 1/4″ to 1/3″ thick slices. I lay down a clean kitchen towel and then paper towel, and arrange the slices flat with a little space in between on top. I then add another layer of paper towels, and kitchen towel to essentially sandwich the slices. With a heavy book or pan on top, I leave the slices for about ten minutes to let all the water press out of the tofu and into the towels. Tofu is a sponge; when you press out the water, you allow for other (flavorful) liquids to be absorbed – like this smoky marinade!
Soy sauce, liquid smoke, garlic, and pepper get absorbed into the pores of the tofu, producing a rich, savory result.
Secondly, and just as crucial, is browning the tofu in either the oven or in a pan so that the edges firm up. This allows the tofu to get more dense and dehydrated so you get the perfect chewy texture.
And lastly, combine the tofu with other flavors and textures you love. I LOVE rice noodles and shiitake mushrooms, and the simple soy sauce stir-fry pairs so well with the soy-based tofu. Scallions elevate the complexity of the final dish and the liquid smoke adds a unique twist. Of course, where would you be without a dousing of sriracha to top it all off?
Here are my recipes for smoky baked tofu and spicy shiitake rice noodles. Try it and let me know what you think!
- 1 14oz. package firm tofu*, sliced to 1/4" thick and pressed**
- 5 tbsp tamari, soy sauce, or liquid aminos
- 1/2 tsp liquid smoke***
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- crushed red pepper, to taste
- spray oil for pan
- Preheat the oven to 350F.
- In a small bowl, combine the tamari, liquid smoke, garlic powder, freshly–ground black pepper, and crushed red pepper.
- Place the tofu in a shallow casserole dish and pour the marinade over the tofu. Allow to marinate for 20 minutes, turning the tofu once half way through.
- Lightly spray a sheet pan with oil and layout the tofu slabs evenly on the tray.
- Place the tray in the oven and bake for 15 minutes. Flip, and cook another 10 to 15 minutes until the tofu is browned around the edges. You may broil each side for a minute or two for extra crispness.
- Remove, let cool, and slice or crumble to your liking. Store covered in the refrigerator until ready to use in other recipes.****
- * - Soy, along with corn, is one of the most genetically modified produce in the world with some of the highest pesticide contents. Always use non-GMO, organic tofu whenever possible.
- ** - Gently press as much water out of the tofu slices by sandwiching the slabs between paper towels before adding the marinade.
- *** - Liquid smoke is easily found at any grocery store - hickory, mesquite, or any other flavor will do. A small bottle will last a long time.
- **** - This tofu is great on sandwiches, sauced in a stir-fry, or as part of a buddha bowl.
- 1 package brown rice noodles, cooked according to the package instructions
- 1 batch (14 oz) smoky baked tofu
- 1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 8-10 whole shiitake mushrooms, sliced
- 4-6 stalks scallions or green onions, chopped and divided*
- 2 tbsp tamari or soy sauce, or more to taste
- crushed red pepper, to taste (optional)
- sriracha sauce, to taste (optional)
- lime wedges (optional)
- Once your noodles are cooked, toss with a little spray oil to prevent clumping and set aside.
- Heat a skillet to medium high heat and add the sesame oil.
- Once the pan is hot, add the mushrooms and sauté until the water is released.
- Add the onions and garlic and sauté until mushrooms are golden brown and onions are limp, stirring frequently to keep the garlic from burning.
- Reduce heat to medium and add the tamari or soy sauce.
- Once the sauce is heated through (you don't want it all to evaporate), add the noodles and tofu straight into the pan and toss to combine.
- The noodles will absorb the soy sauce. Serve hot with scallion, crushed red pepper, sriracha, and a squeeze of lime.
- * - Divide the onions into two piles, dark green tops and white to light green bottoms. Use the bottoms in the pan; use the tops for garnish. Pro tip: Slice at a diagonal for visual appeal.