An easy tofu marinade with just 4 ingredients and tons of flavor. No more bland tofu! Cook the marinated tofu in a skillet or bake it in the oven.
This easy tofu marinade is my go-to tofu recipe, one that I make over and over again. The marinade is versatile, flavorful and made with just 4 ingredients.
Best of all, this marinade gives tofu tons of flavor. No more bland tofu, hooray!
Serve the tofu with white or brown rice, noodles, rice noodles, or stir-fried or roasted vegetables.
You can add also tofu to any of these recipes:
Why This Recipe Works
- 4 simple ingredients
- No need to press the tofu beforehand
- Marinate for just 15 minutes, or longer if you have time
- The marinade doubles a sauce
I've been using this tofu marinade for so long that I can't remember where it originally came from (maybe Sam Sifton at the New York Times?) I love the sweet/salty/tangy flavor and I also love how easy it is. You only have to look at this recipe once to commit it to memory.
- 2 Tablespoons soy sauce
- 2 Tablespoons oil (sunflower, olive oil, or sesame oil)
- 2 Tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- 2 Tablespoons maple syrup
This easy weeknight tofu recipe involves just 3 steps:
- Marinate the tofu briefly
- Pan sear the tofu in a little bit of oil
- Add the marinade to the pan and simmer briefly, creating a sauce
Pan-Seared or Oven-Baked Tofu
Usually, I pan sear this tofu in a skillet. It only takes a few minutes. The sugars in the marinade caramelize quickly, giving the tofu a nicely browned exterior.
You can also bake the tofu, if you prefer an easy hands-off cooking method. Baking the tofu takes about 25 minutes. The tofu doesn't get as crispy on the outside when it's baked.
- Use firm or extra-firm tofu for this recipe
- Here's an quick video that shows how to cut tofu into squares or cutlets
- The trick to browning tofu and getting it crispy on the outside is leaving it alone in the pan. Cook tofu in a non-stick skillet with a drizzle of oil over medium or medium-high heat. Let the pieces of tofu cook for 3 minutes without touching or moving them. Then flip the pieces and cook for another 2 minutes or so.
- For this recipe, keep the heat on medium. Soy sauce and maple syrup will burn if the heat gets too high.
- Remove the tofu from the marinade before cooking it. Cooking the tofu in the marinade will just make it soggy. Once the tofu is cooked, you can add the remaining marinade to the pan to make a quick sauce.
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I always keep tofu in the back of my refrigerator. It stays fresh for a long time and it's perfect for those nights when you're almost out of groceries and don't know what to make for dinner.
For a recipe like this one, buy firm, extra-firm or super-firm tofu. The more firm it is, the lower the moisture content. It's easy to slice and is easy to bake or pan fry.
Medium or "regular" tofu (often just labeled as "tofu") is fairly firm and can be sliced. It has a more spongey texture that absorbs flavor well. It's good for dishes that braise tofu in a sauce.
Silken tofu has a high moisture content and custardy texture. It's often added to smoothies, blended into sauces, added to soup or used in desserts.
Pressing tofu means pressing the moisture out of the tofu so that it fries up crispier, browns better and isn't so soggy. You can buy a tofu press to do this, but most home cooks just wrap the tofu in towels and press the moisture out by placing something heavy on top of the tofu (like a plate with cans on it).
In this recipe, I skip that step. I use firm or extra-firm tofu, which naturally has less moisture. Also, since the tofu is marinating in liquid, there's no point to pressing the tofu beforehand.
If you're not marinating the tofu, then it's a good idea to press the tofu before cooking it (if you have time). My recipe for tofu schnitzel has easy step-by-step photos that show how to press moisture from tofu.
The trick to making tofu crispy is leaving it alone in the pan. Use a non-stick skillet over medium or medium-high heat with a light layer of oil. Cook the tofu for 3 minutes without moving it at all. Then flip the tofu and cook 2 to 3 minutes more.
Yes. Tofu can be eaten raw. Cooking tofu adds flavor, but isn't necessary before eating it. You can add raw tofu to smoothies or salads or eat uncooked tofu in a flavorful sauce or marinade.
If kept in the sealed container from the store, tofu stays fresh for months. Just keep on eye on the expiration date. Once taken out of the sealed container, it should be eaten within 3 to 5 days. If tofu has gone bad, it will have a yellow-ish color and won't smell fresh. It might also have a sour flavor.
According to the National Celiac Association, tofu is gluten-free. Tofu is made from soy, which is naturally gluten-free.
However, if the tofu is flavored with soy sauce (like in this recipe), keep in mind that soy sauce is not gluten-free. Tamari is a good gluten-free replacement for soy sauce.
Yes, tofu can be frozen for several months. It's best to freeze the tofu with no liquid. You can freeze the entire block, slices or cubes in an airtight container or freezer bag. Defrost in the refrigerator.
Some cooks say that freezing tofu (even if just overnight) is an easy way to remove moisture from the tofu. It also changes the texture, so the tofu is less soggy and absorbs flavor better. When the tofu defrosts, you can immediately cook it without having to press moisture out of the tofu. I haven't tried this yet, but will let you know when I do!