How to make tofu taste good, Part 1: Baked Tofu

Ahh tofu, this poor little block of curdled soy milk has a serious image problem. (Referring to it as 'curdled soy milk' may not being helping the situation, but bear* with me).

When I ask my vegan or vego clients whether they eat tofu, the standard response is invariably one of the following:

a/ a grimace, and words to the effect of 'I don't like it' OR
b/ 'I like it when I have it at restaurants, but I don't know how to cook it at home'

From a nutritional perspective, tofu is awesome. It's packed with protein, calcium and phytoestrogens (such as genistein and daidzein), which have a number of health benefits such as reducing the risk of breast and prostate cancers and reducing LDL (bad) blood cholesterol levels. I did a mega blog post about soy a while ago, so if you missed it, you can have a read of that post here.

Tofu needs to be treated as a raw ingredient - you can't just open the packet, slice off a piece and expect deliciousness. It is technically cooked already, but it definitely needs a little help before it can be eaten.

In this post I'm going to walk you through how to make delicious baked tofu. I've included step-by-step photos and instructions so there's no way you can stuff this up.

1. Baked Tofu

You will need:

375g/13oz firm tofu. I recommend choosing organic and non-GM tofu, but it's up to you. There's potential room for error here - if your tofu is extra-firm it will taste rubbery (in my humble opinion), but if it's too soft it may break apart. A good tip is to check the protein content of the tofu - you want about 14g protein per 100g tofu. I love the Earnest Bean Co tofu*** which I've used below.

Marinade ingredients (as pictured below)

  • 2 tbsp tamari (wheat-free soy sauce), nama shoyu or soy sauce. I know this sounds like a lot in terms of the sodium/salt content, but you'll be draining the tofu from the marinade so you won't actually be eating it. You can also re-use the marinade for a couple of days after you've made it and get a couple of batches out of it too.
  • 1 tbsp mirin. This is a sweet-tasting rice wine. You can find it in the Asian section at the supermarket, at Asian grocery stores, or in health food stores.
  • 1 tbsp rice malt syrup 
  • Juice of 1 orange (about 1/2 a cup) - use a citrus juicer to get as much juice as possible out of the orange. 
  • 1-2 cloves of garlic, peeled and minced. You can either press the clove through a garlic press (though I find these very fiddly) or just finely chop using a knife.
  • A small knob of ginger, peeled and minced using a knife, or grated using a Microplane grater. A neat trick: ginger has a thin, papery** skin and can be peeled easily by scraping it off with a teaspoon. Doing it this way means you will end up with far more ginger than if you just go at it with a knife. 


Step 1:

  1. Slice the tofu into 1cm (1/2 inch) thick slabs and lay in a single layer in a baking tray (make sure the tray has edges, as you will be pouring the marinade into it).
  2. Put all the marinade ingredients in an old jar and give it a really good shake to combine. 

Step 2:

  1. Pour the marinade over the tofu, cover, and pop it in the fridge for at least 2 hours. The longer the better, I assume, but I wouldn't push it past 12 hours

Step 3:

  1. When you're ready to bake the tofu: pre-heat the oven to 220 degrees Celsius conventional, or 200 degrees Celsius fan-forced (430 degrees F conventional/390 degrees F fan-forced)
  2. Drain the marinade into a bowl (and re-use it if you like)
  3. Place the tofu in the pre-heated oven and bake for 15-20 minutes or until the top side is golden brown
  4. Remove the tofu from the oven and flip each piece over using tongs or a spatula (or be prepared to kiss goodbye to a layer of precious finger skin). Spoon a little extra marinade over each piece of tofu. Don't go crazy here - you don't want too much liquid or things won't brown up nicely - just a couple of tablespoons should do it.  
  5. Place the tofu back in the oven and continue cooking for a further 10-15 minutes or until golden brown and crispy 
  6. Remove the tofu from oven and serve with brown rice and steamed veg for a quick and easy dinner meal

Stay tuned for Part 2: Stir Fried Tofu!

*Yep, it really is 'bear', not 'bare'. I googled it.
**Yep, also a word.
**This is not a paid endorsement. I just really like their tofu!