Serving five to six

Crouching Tofu

by Shelley Gratzon

This is my signature tofu recipe and my family’s favorite tofu dish. Guests always try to get the recipe out of me. Now’s their chance. Like a crouching tiger ready to spring into dynamic action, this recipe gives plain tofu a penetrating flavor and zip that makes it leap into a bold, tasty entity — hence the name “Crouching Tofu.” Ten minutes of “crouching” will better accomplish what ten hours of marinating would do — especially if you are like me and don’t plan enough in advance to press and marinate.

Ingredients

  • 16 ounce tofu, firm or extra firm
  • 1 cup water
  • 3 tablespoon Bragg Liquid Aminos or tamari
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon dry ground fennel
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 clove crushed garlic
  • 1/4" slice fresh ginger cut into chunks
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil*
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • oil or ghee for pan frying, grilling, broiling, or baking*

*If pan frying or baking, use extra virgin olive oil. For high-heat cooking methods, like grilling or broiling, use high-heat sunflower oil or ghee.

Serving Tips

Crouching Tofu is our Thanksgiving “turkey” with gravy, mashed potatoes etc. And like leftover turkey, it’s excellent in open-faced sandwiches with gravy. The tofu gets denser, chewier, and more flavorful as it cools, making it perfect for cold sandwiches and wraps too; or cut it into strips or cubes for salads, shish kebab, and hors d’oeuvres. Try cubes on toothpicks with a dipping sauce (my cookbook will have many hidden-veggie sauce options).

For a simple balanced meal, enjoy Crouching Tofu plain or with a chutney, sauce, or gravy. Serve with grain or pasta and vegetable side dishes.

Directions

  1. Cut tofu, from the short end, into 10 to 12 slices, about ¼ inch, or 1 x 1 x ½ inch cubes.
  2. Combine remaining ingredients (except oil or ghee for additional cooking methods) in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil.
  3. Lay tofu in the pan in even layers. Return to a boil, cover, lower heat, and simmer for 10 minutes. Drain.
  4. Serve as is; or brown by pan frying, baking, broiling, or grilling for an attractive look and a chewier texture.

To pan fry:

  1. Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil (or ghee) in a large skillet on medium. A pinch of paprika added to the oil gives a nice color.
  2. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes on each side, until browned. You may need to do this in batches.
  3. Add some new slices before completely emptying the pan, so the oil doesn’t burn between batches.

To bake: Place tofu pieces on a lightly oiled baking sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes, turning half way through.
To broil: Coat lightly with oil, and broil about 5 inches from the heating element, about 3 minutes on each side.
To grill: Coat lightly with oil. Use your barbeque or stove top grill, and cook for about 3 minutes on each side.

Crouching Tofu oven method:

Use this technique if you are cooking for a large group. You can put several pans in the oven at one time.

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Place slices or cubes of tofu in a single layer in a glass baking dish. Cover with broth.
  3. Bake for 45 minutes, until the liquid is absorbed. Turn the pieces at 15 minute intervals.
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