Cook Date: January 22, 2023
Hello, my name is Howard and I’m a tofu fanatic [AND I’M NOT EVEN A VEGETARIAN]. When I see a “crispy tofu” recipe I just have to try it. I found this NY Times recipe with the lead sentence: “Crispy tofu is attainable without frying”. I’ve made crispy tofu in the oven before but this technique was a bit different so I had to try it.
This is not my recipe, it was developed by someone else; in this case the NY Times. I don’t think it is right to share all the details of something that isn’t my own creation. It’s easy enough to change one or two small things and call it my own, but it doesn’t sit right by me. This recipe is behind a pay wall but you may be able to see a free one each month. Also, I can give out 10 recipe links a month from my subscription, so if you are serious about making this, leave a comment and I’ll share the link to the first 10 people. The only thing I ask, is you post a subsequent comment about the recipe.
This recipe clicks on a number of levels.
- Stir-fry-like dish without the wok and hands on cooking.
- Tasty and satisfying meal for the vegetarians in our family that also pleases the meat eaters
- A new and delicious teriyaki sauce which will be put to use in other applications
Let’s get started. This dish doesn’t require a lot of ingredients (although I didn’t include the rice, potato starch, and oil in the banner photo). Make sure your tofu is firm or extra-firm. It holds up better to the tossing and roasting.
Tofu needs to have some moisture removed to make crisping easier. You can wrap it in paper towels, put it on the counter layer a cutting board on top and weight down the cutting board with a cast iron skillet or other heavy kitchen items. Or, if you are a gadget nut like me, you can buy a (or two) tofu press(es). Read the linked post above for details on that. Once some moisture is extracted, gather up the tofu, starch(es) and a neutral oil. I’ve been using grape seed oil recently because it has a very high smoke point which is great for cooking in the oven.
Cube the tofu, then put some oil in one shallow dish and the starches in the other. While this recipe calls for corn starch, I’ve read (but can’t find just now) that potato starch is also a good coating to use. So I split the difference and went half and half. Your prep station will look something like this.
This is the new (to me) technique of applying the oil and starch. Normally I put the tofu in a large bowl, add a bit of oil, gently toss, then add a bit of starch at a time while again gently tossing. This recipe calls for dabbing the tofu into the oil, then rolling in the starch, and placing on a baking sheet. Yeah, I won’t be doing it like that again. In the first place it is much more time consuming and I have an extra dish to wash. More importantly the starch really clumps on the tofu. You can see some clumps here. There’s not a lot of taste in the starches so the taste wasn’t affected, but it just didn’t look great.
The tofu takes longer to cook – about 30 minutes – so put it in the oven first. Prepare some broccoli florets roast for the last 20 or so minutes. After cutting into bite sized pieces, I put them in a large bowl, added some oil (EVO this time) and kosher salt. Tossed and put on its own cooking sheet.
Since I was cooking for six I didn’t have enough space in our air fryer, so I used the convection mode in my oven to similar effect. Both sheets go in.
While the tofu and broccoli cooked it was time to turn to the teriyaki sauce. I’ve said it before and I’ll repeat myself here because it is so important. The key to tasty tofu is crispiness and the sauce. I’ve made passable teriyaki sauce before and even tried bottled (but the bottles stuff is mostly sugar and food coloring). You can read about my teriyaki steak showdown here. I was intrigued by the teriyaki sauce in this recipe. As the recipe notes says, teriyaki sauce is comprised of four ingredients, soy sauce, mirin, sake, and sugar. This recipe adds ginger and garlic.
Place the six ingredients in a pot (½ cup each soy sauce and mirin, ⅓ cup mirin, ¼ cup sugar, a 1-inch piece of peeled and grated ginger, 1 garlic clove shoved through a garlic press. Put it all over medium-high heat stirring to dissolve the sugar. Then simmer 12 or so minutes.
I didn’t take pictures of mixing the ingredients, but here it is simmering in a small pan.
Carla made a delicious cucumber salad. You can see the post for a smashed cucumber with sesame oil and garlic here.
Place some cooked rice (we love Calrose style rice) add some tofu chunks and broccoli, then drizzle the teriyaki sauce on top.
Dinner is served
Even the kids liked it!
Rating: ★★★★ 4 Stars
Definitely a do over and a great meatless dinner. My only change will be to coat the tofu my old way: tofu in a large bowl, drizzle with oil and toss gently, then dust with starch while tossing gently. I think I’ll use all potato starch next time I prepare tofu in the oven. I’ll let you know what I think.
The teriyaki sauce is the best I’ve tried. I’ll definitely being cooking teriyaki steak on the grill this summer using this sauce as the marinade.