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