If I’m being completely honest, I prefer eating pan-fried tofu more than baked tofu. It takes less time to cook, and pan-frying browns the tofu more evenly. However, I usually pan fry tofu in a non-stick skillet, which some people do not have in their kitchen. (Tofu sticks to stainless steel and cast-iron pans, so cleanup will be very messy.) To achieve crispy edges without a non-stick skillet, baking is a perfect alternative cooking method to pan-frying tofu. Plus, you don’t need as much oil to still get crispy edges on the tofu.
HOW TO MAKE BAKED TOFU
WHAT TYPE OF TOFU TO USE
If you are looking for baked tofu with slightly crispier edges, use super-firm tofu. You can find it in 16-ounce packages and it’s usually soaking in a little water.
However, the drawback to using this type of tofu is that the center is dense. Super firm tofu has been pressed in the tofu molds for the longest time. As a result, the tofu curds are densely packed. I find that sprouted tofu that comes in the giant bricks tend to be
On the other hand, you can also use extra-firm tofu. Although the softer center makes the tofu more pleasant to eat, the edges of baked tofu made with this variety will be less crispy.
In the recipe below, I have directions for using both types of tofu. It may take you several tries before you figure out which type of tofu you prefer using.
PRESS TOFU (ONLY NECESSARY FOR EXTRA-FIRM TOFU)
If you use extra-firm tofu for the recipe, you will need to press the tofu for at least 30 minutes to get rid of excess moisture in the tofu. This ensures that the tofu will crisp up in the oven.
To press the tofu, drain the tofu from the package and wrap the block of tofu inside a cheesecloth, muslin cloth, or paper towels. Place the block of tofu on a plate. Then, place a small stack of plates or a medium skillet over the tofu to press out the moisture. Some people use a large 12-inch cast-iron skillet to weigh down the tofu. I think that a large skillet is too heavy and often causes the tofu to be lopsided after the pressing process.
This pressing step is not necessary for super-firm tofu because the tofu is not as porous as extra-firm tofu. Remember, the tofu makers have already pressed super-firm tofu for a longer period during the manufacturing process. All you need to do is wrap the tofu with a cloth or paper towels and gently press the tofu to extract some of the moisture around the surface.
CUT TOFU INTO CUBES & SEASON
Cut the tofu into 3/4-inch cubes. Then, toss the tofu cubes with olive oil, teriyaki sauce, and salt. I like to season the tofu with teriyaki sauce because it’s very flavorful. If you do not have any teriyaki sauce on hand, use 4 teaspoons of soy sauce, 1 teaspoon of honey, and 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder/granulated garlic.
Finally, sprinkle cornstarch over the tofu and gently mix the tofu with a spatula, until all the cornstarch is absorbed.
Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Then, transfer the tofu cubes onto the baking sheet. Spread out the tofu to ensure that the cubes turn crispy. Bake the tofu at 400ºF for 20 minutes. Then, remove the baking sheet from the oven. Flip over all of the tofu cubes to brown another side of the tofu. (I usually only brown 2 sides of the tofu.) Bake again for 15 to 20 minutes.
Once the tofu is done baking, transfer the tofu to a serving bowl. I like drizzling more teriyaki sauce over the tofu for more flavor, but you can leave the tofu as is. The baked tofu is great as a side dish to fried rice, salads, or grain bowls.
WHAT TO SERVE WITH BAKED TOFU
How to Make Baked Tofu
- 1 (14 ounce) package of extra firm tofu (or 16-ounce super firm tofu)
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 1/2 tablespoons teriyaki sauce, plus more for drizzling (see note)
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- toasted sesame seeds
- sliced scallions
- If you are using extra-firm tofu: Drain the tofu from the package. Wrap the tofu with a cheesecloth, muslin, or a layer of paper towels. Place the wrapped tofu on a plate and place a small skillet or a stack of plates over the tofu. Press the tofu for at least 30 minutes.
- If you are using super-firm tofu: Drain the tofu from the package. Wrap the tofu with a cheesecloth, muslin, or a layer of paper towels. Use your hands to gently press the tofu gently to squeeze out any extra moisture. You do not need to press the tofu because the curds are already densely packed.
- Preheat the oven to 400ºF. Position the oven rack to the center position.
- Chop the block of tofu into 3/4-inch cubes. Transfer the tofu cubes to a mixing bowl.
- Drizzle the olive oil and teriyaki sauce over the tofu. Sprinkle the salt on top. Gently toss the tofu to coat the pieces with the seasonings. Next, sprinkle the cornstarch over the tofu, and gently toss the tofu again, until all the cornstarch is incorporated.
- Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Spread out the tofu pieces over the baking sheet.
- Bake the tofu for 20 minutes. Remove the tofu from the oven. Flip the pieces over and bake for another 15 to 20 minutes, until the tofu is golden brown.
- Remove the tofu from the oven and transfer it to a serving bowl. Drizzle the tofu with more teriyaki sauce so that it’s nice and flavorful. Note that the tofu will become less crispy with the extra sauce. Garnish with toasted sesame seeds and sliced scallions, if you like.