March 8, 2015

Tamari Tofu Steaks

10:30pm. Dinosaur footie pajamas. Darwin is still awake, sitting backwards in a chair, watching me make tofu. I whisk the glossy marinade with a fork, then press dry each tofu slice with a flour sack towel.

"Mama's making tofu," Darwin calls down the hall to his Daddy. Bedtime isn't happening, but we're making do: I'm getting ahead with food prep while Triceratops Toes chatters and stalls. Someday he won't want to hang out with me when it's late and he's fighting sleep. I remind myself of this while I slip the fragrant pan into the oven.

I set the oven timer. Waiting time.

What is tofu, really? Don't laugh. I always forget and have to look it up. Tofu starts when whole soybeans are soaked, ground, and mixed with water. The resulting soy milk is coagulated with a salt (magnesium chloride) and the curds are pressed and cut into blocks. That's it. Even though it looks suspiciously modern and geometrical in its little plastic bathtub, tofu is a traditional, minimally-processed food, and one with tasty potential.

This recipe is our favorite preparation. The little steaks are sweet and salty, chewy and quick-to-make. We like them best cold, cut into rectangles and skewered with a food pick. They're a convenient, sustaining and sustainable protein, perfect on a snack plate of veggies or at breakfast-time, in place of eggs.

It's 11:15pm now, and somewhere between the flipping of the tofu and its cooling en route to the fridge, Darwin has wandered back into his room and fallen asleep. The monitor in the baby's room reports silence. The day is almost done.

So here it is: my Put-The-Kids-To-Bed, Bang-Out-A-Batch-Of-Tofu recipe. Everyone has one of those, right? No? Well, have mine.


Tamari Tofu Steaks
Makes ~12 tofu steaks

1 14-16oz container firm tofu
2 Tbls. tamari or soy sauce
1 Tbls. sesame oil
1 Tbls. unsweetened rice vinegar
1 Tbls. honey or real maple syrup
dash onion powder
dash garlic powder

Preheat the oven to 400, and line an aluminum cookie sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.

Drain tofu, and slice into thin rectangles.

Using a clean flour sack towel or a few paper towels, press the slices of tofu gently but firmly, until they give up most of their water.

In a small bowl, whisk together all remaining ingredients.

Dredge each piece of tofu in the marinade, then place it on the cookie sheet. Space the steaks roughly evenly. Save any leftover marinade.

Bake for 15 minutes, then flip the steaks and drizzle any remaining marinade on them. (Try to avoid letting the marinade pool on the baking sheet; it will burn.)

Bake for another 15 minutes, then remove the steaks and let them cool slightly before serving. Or, cool completely and chill for later.

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