Baked Tofu with Soy Marinade

I had a delightful experience with some baked, marinated tofu recently. It was dense, meaty, and had a great creamy soy-based sauce.

A quick Internet search showed that baked tofu is marinated for 0-60 minutes and typically baked for 30 minutes at 375 degrees, with a flip of the tofu occurring halfway through cooking. I whipped up a soy-based marinade and tried three different marinating times: 0, 10, and 30 minutes.

The tofu marinated for 30 minutes was the best tasting. They all had a nice crust on the outside and a brown color that I found appealing.

Below: A block of extra firm tofu, ready to be loved.

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Below: Hello? Protein, fiber, cancer inhibiting phytochemicals? Is that you, calling? Why, yes, I’d love some!

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Below: My ace team of flavor professionals, lined up and ready to deliver a precision strike of deliciousness.

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Below: Le Ziploc, helping marinate the tofu. The vacuum sealed juices help keep the tofu completely surrounded.

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Below: All of the tofu I cooked in this session came out with a crispy texture on the outside, which is a nice contrast to tofu’s out-of-the-container not-so-fun texture (hey, just because I love plant-based food doesn’t mean I don’t like a nice crust).

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Below: The new star of my sauce lineup – Ohsawa Shoyu. Intended for the discerning palate…oh, who am I kidding. It’s more expensive than regular soy sauce and it does have a more mature flavor. It’s not as harsh as other soy sauces I’ve had. It just might become a staple.

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Below: Browned, crusted tofu, sauteed veggies (broccoli right from the garden), and my new favorite soy sauce. A lovely photo, delicious flavors, and a nutritious plate. I love it when a meal comes together! The browned tofu has a lovely appearance.

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Napa Cabbage Salad with Asian Dressing

The Plan

Sweetish Asian dressing + crunchy napa cabbage = happy tummy.

A Bit More Detail

Here’s what I used:

  • Tahini (for creaminess)
  • Canola oil
  • Brown sugar
  • Soy sauce
  • Rice vinegar
  • Ginger
  • Toasted sesame oil
  • Red pepper flakes
  • Szechuan peppercorns (pounded into submission)
  • Shredded napa cabbage and whatever salad stuff you like (carrots, green onions work nicely)

The Spice

Below: First thing’s first: I HAD to smell those peppercorns.

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I had given up hope of finding some Szechuan peppercorns when I drifted past Penzey’s Spices on North Lamar. They had everything under the sun, so I brought home the peppercorns and gave them a whiff. They’re like nothing I’ve ever smelled before. Aromatic with mint and citrus notes. And spicy! But in a wholly unique way. And I don’t just mean really hot, I mean truly unique. My tongue is feeling hot and a bit raw as I type this from eating one of the peppercorns whole. I’d like to say that I loved it, but let’s say it’s a flavor that might have to grow on me. I really appreciate the novelty and the complexity, however.

Below: Mortar and pestle, one of the most fun kitchen gadgets ever.

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Below: Napa cabbage. Before you run off and think that napa cabbage comes from wine country, let me tell you that it actually comes from China. The term “napa” is from the Japanese term for edible vegetable leaves (1). A wonderful cruciferous vegetable, which are called Super Veggies by WebMD for their antioxidative powers and possible anti-cancer benefits. It’s the main ingredient in the main type of kimchi (a spicy fermented dish), so you could say that the Chinese cultivated it, the Japanese named it, and the Koreans use it — it’s a pan Asian foodstuff.

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Below: Tahini, which is ground sesame seeds. It has a somewhat bitter taste straight out of the can, but it’s normally mixed with other things. It is used as an ingredient in hummus.

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Below: The apple cider vinegar was for drinking, not for delicious-dressing-making. :)

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Below: I want to dive into all of those amazing flavors right there!

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Below: Shredded leaves looking so sad and un-spicy.

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Below: The final product, complete with carrot shreds and snow peas. And, the delicious dressing. It was a sweet, soy-ish, ginger-ish, creamy delight that motivated me to make this salad three times in two days from scratch each time. So easy!

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(1) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Napa_cabbage

Kim Bap

Kimbap is a Korean staple food consisting of steamed rice rolled up in a nori wrapper (dried seaweed), usually along with vegetables and/or some kind of protein. I learned about it during my travels to Korea several years ago, but only recently did I try to make it. Of course, it resembles what many of us refer to as sushi rolls, and they are very similar. My understanding is that traditional Japanese sushi involves dressing the rice with vinegar before rolling it, but kimbap does not have this characteristic.

Below: A completed plate of kimbap, with a roll ready to be sliced lying on a bamboo mat.

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