This recipe for crispy baked tofu with a sesame coating is as easy as it is delicious. Packed with flavour, it makes a great starter to a Chinese style meal or a fabulous lunchtime salad bowl.
Tofu with Love
My love affair with tofu continues. This lean and nutritious East Asian wonder food is a real joy, a lean protein that soaks up any flavours you want. We love it fried with chilli or in this delicious asparagus and caper dish.
There are so many heavily processed vegan options on offer now. I can’t help but wonder why people bother with them, when traditional bean curd, with a history stretching back at least a thousand years, does the job so well. It’s gluten free, cholesterol free, and full of protein, calcium and iron. If you have ever been in doubt about how natural a product tofu really is, have a look at my recipe for homemade tofu.
The natural flavour and fragrance of the tofu is subtle, which does not appeal to everyone, but it takes on other flavours so easily that it adapts to become almost anything you want.
How to Press Tofu
Most medium or firm tofu needs to be pressed before cooking, in order to remove excess liquid. This will give a firmer texture to the cooked tofu. It will also allow your tofu to absorb a marinade and to crisp up in cooking.
Some smoked or flavoured versions may not be very wet, in which case you may not need to do more than wrap them in a paper kitchen towel and give them a squeeze. If your bean curd is sitting in water in the plastic wrap, however, you need to get rid of it.
To do this, wrap the tofu in a clean tea towel or kitchen paper. Set it on a plate under a chopping board and weigh it down by putting a couple of cans of beans on top (or whatever you have to hand – I use my fruit bowl!). Leave it for about 20 minutes.
The cloth or paper will absorb most of the liquid. If you start to see a puddle forming on the plate, tip the liquid away to make space for more.
If you want to, you can press and then marinate the tofu the day before, storing it in the fridge. It will need the marinade, though – don’t press the liquid out and store it dry.
Crispy Sesame Crusted Baked Tofu
For this tofu recipe, I decided to try something different and baked, rather then fried, my bean curd. Baking the tofu makes it chewier and firmer, and concentrates the flavours of the marinade in the tofu. The sesame coating not only gives that delicious sesame flavour but adds crunch and more texture (and extra calcium!).
I used a lemon, soy sauce and sesame marinade for this recipe, light flavours that make this tofu perfect with a summer salad or ‘Buddha bowl’. It also works well alone as a starter or on noodles or rice with some stir-fried vegetables. Leftovers are good cold in a packed lunch.
There is not much hands-on time involved in this recipe – you can leave the tofu alone to drain off the water, then to marinate and then bake. However, you do need to allow enough time for each of these stages, so plan to start early enough.
For this recipe, you want a firm tofu rather than the silken versions that crumble away when pressed. The quantities given serve two for a healthy lunch.
How to Make Crispy Baked Tofu – Recipe Step-by-Step
Step 1 – Press the tofu to get rid of excess liquid. Do this by wrapping it in kitchen paper or a clean tea towel and weighting it. Leave it for about 20 minutes. You will be amazed at how much water comes out.
Step 2 – Slice the tofu into thinnish slices (about 1 cm). Then cut each slice diagonally to make 2 triangles.
Step 3 –Place in a container and pour the marinade over. Leave for at least 20 minutes to soak up the marinade. If the marinade does not completely cover the tofu, you will need to turn it after 10 minutes.
Step 4 – After marinating, roll each piece of tofu in the sesame seeds and place onto a greased baking tray (or use a silicone mat on the tray, to avoid the need for greasing). Bake for 20 to 30 minutes at GM 5/375 °F/190 °C, turning half way through cooking. The tofu is ready when the edges are browned and crispy.
Serve your crispy baked sesame tofu on a bed of salad. I like to use baby spinach leaves with baby plum tomatoes and pepperdew peppers and garnish with chives and tahini dressing.
Crispy Baked Tofu with a Sesame Crust
- 1 block firm tofu
- 2 tbsp sesame seeds
- 2 tbsp lemon juice (juice of one medium lemon)
- 2 tbsp dark tamari/soy sauce
- 1 tbsp sesame oil
- Press the water out of the tofu. Wrap it in a clean tea towel and press it under a chopping board weighted with a couple of cans on top. Leave it for about 20 minutes.
- Slice the tofu into thinnish slices (about 1 cm). Then cut each slice diagonally to make 2 triangles.
- Place in a container and pour the marinade over. Leave for at least 20 minutes to soak up the marinade. If the marinade does not completely cover the tofu, you will need to turn it after 10 minutes.
- After marinating, roll each piece of tofu in the sesame seeds and place onto a greased baking tray (or use a silicone mat on the tray, to avoid the need for greasing). Bake for 20 to 30 minutes at GM 5/375 °F/190 °C, turning half way through cooking. The tofu is ready when the edges are browned and crispy.
Hints & Tips
Make sure you press the tofu well before use. This will allow it to absorb the flavours and improve the texture of the finished dish.
You can vary the marinade for this tofu in any way you like:
- Add a little chilli or ginger or both, if you like a spicier dish, and some black pepper for extra heat.
- Try lemongrass and Thai basil for a fresh, fragrant version.