My Favorite Tofu Dinners


I used to feel the same way
about tofu that I did about squash. I didn’t exactly crave it, but it wasn’t offensive, and it was as good as whatever I seasoned it with — especially when the “seasoning” included a generous amount of fat, i.e. butter or oil. These days I crave it. I love how I feel satisfied, as opposed to full, when I eat a tofu-based dinner; I love that I now have a brand I look for — Wildwood Organic* — which is smooth and firm with zero aftertaste; I love how well it pairs with bright, umami-loaded Asian flavors; I love that a box of it can sit in the fridge for weeks at a time, waiting for me to take advantage of its loyalty when circumstances (i.e. no youngest child) allow. All of which means, I think it’s finally time to give tofu the Top 10, er 7, treatment that I’ve given to Rotisserie Chicken, Fall Favorites, Skillet Dinners, and Quick Dinners. Here we go…

Vietnamese Tofu Salad (upper left) This one is from Ilene Rosen’s Saladish, and has been in regular rotation in my house ever since Andy took a bite and announced “Keeper.” I’m fine with spreading peanut butter on toast for whichever kid doesn’t want to take part in the glory. It requires a little forethought — the tofu has to marinate for a day (I’ve cheated at 6 hours), you have to pickle your daikon and carrots. But once you taste it, you’ll be plotting how to do it all over again the next day.

Crispy Tofu with Ginger and Greens (lower right) A Melissa Clark skillet classic, from her book Dinner. I think of this like I used to think of Chicken and Rice: memorize the basic technique, then have fun riffing. The riffing in this case comes in the form of vegetables. I’ve made it with chard, with bok choy, with haricots verts. It’s so healthy and has so much depth, thanks to a dollop of molasses.


Crispy Tofu-Vegetable Dumplings
This is the one recipe on the list that everyone at the table eats, largely because the tofu is disguised when blended with the gingery greens. (The crispy, golden-fried thing is not exactly a demerit either.) It might be a good one to start with if you have young, wary kids at the table.

General Tso’s Fried Tofu Sub  (upper right) OK fine, it calls for 30+ ingredients, but if you had the good fortune to try this sandwich at Tyler Kord’s No. 7 Sub shop, you know it’s probably worth the effort. Confession: I’m pretty sure I’ve linked to this recipe more than once on DALS, and I still haven’t made it. Please report back if you have with any special insight!


Miso-Butter Tofu
 I got this recipe from the great Catherine Newman which is reason enough to try it out, no questions asked. But if you remember to press the tofu for at least 30 minutes, the hands-on time is under 5 minutes. It takes 45-50 minutes to get a good lacquered color, but in that time you can make your salad or side dish, have a glass of wine. Scream at twitter. You decide!

Mongolian Tofu Stir-fry This was the gateway tofu for me. It was sent to me from a reader years ago and had everything I want in a dinner: sweet, salty, healthy, substantive.

Seared Sesame Tofu with Market Greens (recipe from Dinner: The Playbook) I make this for myself for lunch if I’m working at home and I’m in the mood for a hot meal. That’s the other thing I love about tofu — it’s so easy for solo cooking. I don’t feel bad slicing off a serves-one portion as opposed to a piece of chicken or fish which I usually buy in family-size packs.

What are your tofu go-tos? Let me know.

*this post is not sponsored.

Tofu sub photo credit: Serious Eats

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17 Comments

Ttrockwood

I love tofu! I am lazy and never bother pressing it- when i sear it the most important thing is just to pat dry the outside.
My favorite recipe of all time- which has converted many anti tofu people, is this one with a delicious peanut buttery sauce! Note the amount of soy sauce must be a mistake, use like 2TB total, i omit the tamari
https://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/tofu-triangles-in-creamy-nut-buttter-sauce-with-scallions-355894

Also the ***huge*** advantage is tofu is cheap! Like $2-3 lb for good organic tofu. Aside from eggs no other protein is so versatile and budget friendly

Reply
Jenny Rosenstrach

WOW, @Trockwood! That recipe was sooooooooooooooo good. It’s a Friday night, both girls are out, and we decided to go crazy and make it for just the two of us instead of going out. I’m so glad we did – it was better than what we would’ve ordered (and overpaid for) in a restaurant. Thank you so much for the link! (Working my way through the others now….) JR

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awads

I think I overdosed my family on that Miso Butter tofu recipe because they’ve gone on tofu strike. But i bet i can win them back with that crispy tofu dumpling dish. I’ll definitely be bookmarking this page (or printing up every recipe and stuffing them into my DALS book and wonder why it’s bursting at the seams?). Cheers!

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Kim W

Poking around the panty shelf yesterday & discovered a block of firm tofu with a fast approaching best by date. Purchased during a flirty vegan period. The crispy tofu with greens is calling. May offset all of the destruction over the last week (birthday cakes, burgers and a tub of Trader Joe’s jalapeño cheese dip). Cheers!

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Kim

You must try spicy braised tofu, aka dubu jorim, sooo good. I use this recipe but modified: https://www.maangchi.com/recipe/dubu-jorim. The secret to pan frying tofu is to add it and the oil to a cold pan. Don’t preheat and it won’t splatter everywhere. This is made at our house almost weekly, and the leftover sauce is delicious with plain rice once all the tofu is gone!

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Carrie

I am a tofu lover, too, and am so excited to have this list! I’m always looking for new ways to make it and will be adding all of these to my “must make” list to try. One that is a hit at our house and a good one for people still learning to “appreciate” the wonderful world of tofu is baked tofu nuggets (I believe this is the recipe I started with (I’ve made it so many times I’ve long sing memorized) https://hellonutritarian.com/crispy-no-oil-baked-tofu-fingers/). We make it 1-2x a month and my 5yo daughter is single handedly responsible coating the tofu for the last year. She loves having that job and watch out if I try to take over! It’s that perfect combo of winning dish and child involvement that reminds me of DALS recipes 🙂

Another go-to is a spicy peanut butter sauce (this is a good one I’ve tried: https://kalynskitchen.com/spicy-sriracha-tofu-peanut-butter/). Such a yummy, hearty dish.

Can’t wait to try these new recipes – and thank you for thinking of us tofu nuts! 🙂

Reply
Melisa

This Food52 recipe https://food52.com/recipes/69829-crispy-sesame-baked-tofu-shiitake-mushrooms is on regular rotation in our house, minus the mushrooms, so I double the tofu (and corn starch and breadcrumbs) and then you don’t have to split into two bowls. I’ve used tortilla chips, crackers, cornflakes, really anything crispy in place of the breadcrumbs. You can use less oil, too when doing all tofu. Also, easily gluten free with gf soy sauce. Even picky children like it!

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Deborah Hansen

We have tofu frequently, I have many recipes but a always on the lookout for new ones. I’ve been meaning to make the Miso-Butter Tofu for ages and finally did tonight. It is SO good. The little bit of butter adds amazing flavor. I’ll be making this again and again, thank you for sharing.

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