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Asian Garlic Tofu

Asian Garlic Tofu with Tamari Glaze

Lifestyle

Sarah Barthet

by

Tofu is a blank canvas and will take on the flavours of whatever you marinate it in. That being said, it will taste like a blank canvas if not treated with the respect it deserves. With a few simple tips to improve the texture of the tofu and infuse classic Asian flavours, anyone can transform this misunderstood ingredient into a winner. 

When travelling through Japan, it quickly became apparent that eating gluten-free is not widely embraced there, so it was important for us to not only come up with a tasty recipe, but one that was gluten-free recipe yet as close to an authentic recipe as possible.

Asian Garlic Tofu

Asian Garlic Tofu with Tamari Glaze

Asian Garlic Tofu

Serving Suggestions

Tofu is best enjoyed alongside greens and a base of rice to mop up the sweet, savoury, sticky and garlicky sauce. Try as part of our Tofu Poke Bowl or along side any of the below recipes:

Garlic Basmati Rice
Vegan Mango Salad
Roasted Leeks
Raw Vegan Satay Dressing
Cucumber and Spring Onion Salad

As with our other recipes, you should make the dish your own and get creative – add in red pepper flakes or chili garlic dressing, or switch out the soy and garlic sauce entirely and replace it with hoisin sauce (although this may not be gluten-free). Maybe if you fancy crispy tofu, try replacing the oven-roasting with a pan fried recipe in an iron pan (or in a stir fry). This is what I love about this tofu recipe – it is so easy to turn into something delicious and works if you have experience or if it is your first time cooking it.

Vegan Garlic Rice Lunch Bowl

Ingredients

IngredientsIngredient NotesSubstitution Notes
Firm TofuTofu is a bland soybean curd that is ubiquitous across east Asian cuisine, found in varying states of firmness from silken (almost custard-like) to extra-firm (similar to a cheddar), and flavours – plain, smoked, covered in herbs or nuts.Not a fan of tofu? Try tempeh, seitan or some relatively firm vegetable like aubergine
Sesame SeedsSesame seeds are very small seeds often used in Asian and Middle Eastern cooking for their fat / oil content. They come in black and white colours, and when toasted have a wonderful, almost exotic aroma and crunchy texture. In seed form, sesame does not have a huge amount of flavour so when replacing this ingredient, consider the texture element – other seeds like sunflower seeds or crushed nuts will work.
HoneySweetness in liquid form with a mild flavour, although some specialist honeys made from certain areas or flowers have wonderful floral flavours (think acacia or fennel honey).For sweetness, use sugar, or if you want to avoid it use another syrup like maple or agave, a fruit for additional flavour (dates or date syrup) or my personal preference is to use the juice of a sweet fruit (orange, mango).
TamariTamari has a wonderfully salty, savoury and umami taste. Although it is a typically Asian ingredient, it can be used to heighten savoury flavours in other dishes.Tamari is gluten-free soy sauce – if you are not allergic to or otherwise not avoiding gluten, just go ahead and substitute with regular soy sauce. For those allergic to soy, try coconut amino acids. If it is the saltiness you are after, just use salt. For an umami kick, some miso paste could help. Want to try something off-piste? Try preserved black beans (salted black soybeans).
Toasted Sesame OilA wonderfully fragrant and nutty smelling oil, it has a rich toasty and sesame flavour which helps to round out Asian flavours. Caution – this oil is quite strong, so if you do not like it or are sensitive to it, a little will go a long way.For the oil and richness, another relatively neutral oil (vegetable oil, rapeseed oil, sunflower oil) will work – olive oil unfortunately is not really suited to high temperature or Asian cooking because of the flavour of the oil and the low smoke point, so I would avoid it if possible. Try walnut oil (but avoid almond oil). The flavour of sesame oil is quite unique so it will not be the same!
GarlicIn its raw form, garlic gives an intense sweet acrid alliaceous flavour and a mild heat, spiciness and acidity. A must-have in any kitchen.Try another bulb from the allium (garlic/onion) family like a shallot. If you are running short on either, try garlic granules. Frozen garlic can work well depending on the dish, as can black garlic.
Spring Onions (also called Green Onions)Spring onions give a fresh, herbaceous / fresh and alliaceous flavour to a dish. Spring onion also has a slight crunch and so can add texture to a dish. To substitute the herbaceous / fresh flavours, try herbs like parsley or coriander. To substitute the alliaceous flavour, try finely chopped raw red onion or (if in season) wild garlic.

Instructions

  1. The first step is to remove any excess liquid from the tofu and firm up its texture. Take the tofu out of its packet and pat dry, then wrap the tofu in an absorbent or moisture-wicking cloth or paper towel. Lay the covered tofu in a dish – you should look to allow the excess water to drain away from the tofu and not have the tofu sit around in its liquid, so you may wish to place the tofu on an upside-down bowl in the larger dish or place the tofu on a wire rack inside the dish. Next, take another heavy pot (or even better, a cast iron skillet) and place this on the tofu, and place additional weight inside the pot (a few cans should do the trick – the more weight you add, the more water will be pressed out of the tofu). Leave the tofu to drain for some time, at least ten minutes, but ideally half an hour to an hour.
  2. Mix the garlic, honey, tamari and sesame oil in a sealable container and give it a shake to mix. Cut the now drained tofu into cubes (based on your preference and the size of the tofu block you have – I normally go for two centimetres to one inch each side). Place cubed tofu into the container, ensuring that all pieces are submerged. Marinate the tofu in the fridge, ideally for at least two hours.
  3. When your tofu is ready (it should have taken on a darker colour and taken some of the flavour of the marinade), remove it from the marinating liquid and pat the cubes of tofu dry. Bring the reserved marinade to a simmer in a pot over medium heat and reduce until thickened. Baste the tofu cubes in the thickened marinade.
  4. Place the tofu cubes on an oven tray and roast in a pre-heated oven at 200C or 390F (180C/350F in a fan oven) until the baste has set and caramelised on the tofu cubes (about 20 minutes). Garnish with sesame seeds and spring onion and serve hot.

Recipe Card

Asian Garlic Tofu

Asian Garlic Tofu

Yield: 2 servings
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Additional Time: 2 hours 30 minutes
Total Time: 2 hours 55 minutes

Cubes of tofu, marinated in soy sauce and garlic for flavour, glazed in a reduction of the marinade and roasted in the oven until firm, golden brown and a bit sticky. 

Ingredients

  • 400g Firm or Extra Firm Tofu
  • ¼ Cup Honey
  • 2 Teaspoons / 4 Cloves Minced Garlic
  • ¼ Cup Tamari / Soy Sauce
  • 1 Tablespoon Toasted Sesame Oil
  • 2 Stalks Finely Chopped Spring Onion
  • 1 Teaspoon Sesame Seeds (optional)

Instructions

    1. The first step is to remove any excess liquid from the tofu and firm up its texture. Take the tofu out of its packet and pat dry, then wrap the tofu in an absorbent or moisture-wicking cloth or paper towel. Lay the covered tofu in a dish - you should look to allow the excess water to drain away from the tofu and not have the tofu sit around in its liquid, so you may wish to place the tofu on an upside-down bowl in the larger dish or place the tofu on a wire rack inside the dish. Next, take another heavy pot (or even better, a cast iron skillet) and place this on the tofu, and place additional weight inside the pot (a few cans should do the trick - the more weight you add, the more water will be pressed out of the tofu). Leave the tofu to drain for some time, at least ten minutes, but ideally half an hour to an hour.

    2. Mix the garlic, honey, tamari and sesame oil in a sealable container and give it a shake to mix. Cut the now drained tofu into cubes (based on your preference and the size of the tofu block you have - I normally go for two centimetres to one inch each side). Place cubed tofu into the container, ensuring that all pieces are submerged. Marinate the tofu in the fridge, ideally for at least two hours.

    3. When your tofu is ready (it should have taken on a darker colour and taken some of the flavour of the marinade), remove it from the marinating liquid and pat the cubes of tofu dry. Bring the reserved marinade to a simmer in a pot over medium heat and reduce until thickened. Baste the tofu cubes in the thickened marinade.

    4. Place the tofu cubes on an oven tray and roast in a pre-heated oven at 200C or 390F (180C/350F in a fan oven) until the baste has set and caramelised on the tofu cubes (about 20 minutes). Garnish with sesame seeds and spring onion and serve hot.

What is your favourite way of cooking tofu? Let us know in the comments!


Check out more vegan recipes from Dukes Kitchen!


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