Incredibly easy to prepare and cook, this marinated tofu makes the perfect protein source for buddha bowls, sandwiches, spring rolls and more!
If you have yet to venture into the world of tofu, this recipe is for you! Tofu is one of my favorite plant-based protein sources as it is super versatile and is practically flavorless so it can take on whatever flavor you want. This marinated tofu recipe is a great for any of you who are new to cooking with tofu and don't know where to start. It's also a great recipe for you more seasoned plant-based cooks who are looking for a simple weeknight dinner.
What is tofu?
Before we dive into the different kinds of tofu and how to cook them, let's first clarify what tofu actually is. Now, the definitely of tofu doesn't sound that appealing, but don't let it scare you! Tofu is healthy and makes for a delicious, plant-based protein source once you know how to cook it. Tofu, which is also referred to as bean curd, is formed by first coagulating soy milk until curds form. Those curds are then formed into solid blocks of tofu, which come in a variety of different densities, which we'll talk about below.
Health benefits of tofu
I know there is a lot of controversy over whether tofu is healthy or not, but in our family we love it! I try to buy organic and non-GMO when possible (although the organic tofu here in Malaysia is disgusting! so bitter!) so that I know my tofu is made from the best kind of soy beans. Tofu is an amazing source of plant-based protein as well as iron and calcium. It also contains all 9 essential amino acids!
Different kinds of tofu and how to use them
I think one of the most daunting things about cooking with tofu is that there are so many different kinds. There's extra soft, silken, medium firm, firm, extra firm, smoked, marinted, etc. These types of tofu vary mostly in density and can be used for a variety of different purposes. The most common tofu found in grocery stores are probably silken, medium, firm and extra firm.
Silken tofu is tofu that has been unpressed and undrained. It has the highest moisture content and is often used as a replacement for certain dairy products. It makes a great egg substitute in baking, can be turned into "yogurt" or dairy-free desserts like tofu pudding, and blends well into smoothies for a flavorless protein boost. It's also the most common form of tofu used in miso soup.
Medium tofu is right in between silken and firm tofu in regards to its moisture content. A lot of people love to use it in tofu scramble or "egg" salad as it best mimics the texture of scrambled eggs...not too soft and not too firm.
Firm and Extra Firm Tofu
Firm and extra firm tofu is probably the most commonly bought tofu in western grocery stores. Most of the moisture has been removed from the these blocks of tofu, creating a more meaty, chewy texture. This is one reason why it's often used in my Baked Tofu Nuggets recipe, a vegan alternative to chicken nuggets.
Firmer tofus work wonderfully as a lunch meat replacement or as a protein source in stir-fries, tacos, salads, buddha bowls and more. Firm tofu can be sliced into "steaks", chopped into cubes or crumbled into "ground beef" and seasoned/cooked accordingly.
Lastly, thanks to more grocery stores accommodating plant-based diets, it is easier than ever to find already marinated and cooked tofu that can simply be cut, reheated and used immediately. One of my favorite pre-cooked marinated tofus is the sriracha flavored baked tofu from Trader Joes. So good!
Best brands of tofu
Depending on where you live and what grocery stores you have in your area, the brands of tofu you have access to will vary greatly. For example, when I lived in China, I simply went to the wet market and had a vender cut me a block of tofu from a huge slab that he had recently made. In the states and Canada, some of the more popular brands I run across are Nasoya, House Foods, Mori-Nu, Trader Joe's, Sunrise, and 365 from Whole Foods. As you continue to cook and experiment with tofu, you'll be sure to find the brand and density you like best!
Simple Tofu Marinade
Like I said, this easy marinated tofu is a great beginner tofu recipe. To make this marinade, you simply whisk together the juice of ½ a lemon juice, 1 tablespoon of olive oil, 2 tablespoons of coconut sugar (or maple syrup!), 2 tablespoons of soy sauce, 2 minced cloves of garlic and salt and pepper until combined. That's it! Your marinade is ready to infuse your tofu and transform it into a delicious, plant-based protein source!
How to press tofu
If you're up for it, you can begin this recipe by pressing your tofu. To press tofu you can either use a tofu press OR you can wrap your tofu in some dish towels and place a cutting board and a heavy pan on top to remove some of the excess moisture. This isn't required for this recipe, but it will result in a more flavorful, crispy tofu.
How to marinate tofu
Marinating tofu couldn't be easier. To start, you simply cut your pressed (or unpressed) tofu into whatever shape you desire. You can cut it into cubes, "steaks", thinner rectangles and triangles or crumble it up. For this recipe I like to slice the tofu into thin rectangles or triangles so that there is more surface area for the tofu to absorb the marinade. I also use a shallow, wide Tupperware container to marinate my tofu. I mix the marinade in the Tupperware itself and then lay the sliced tofu into the marinade, making sure each side has been coated in the sauce. Next I cover the container and allow the tofu to sit in the marinade in the fridge for about 30 minutes. If I remember, I like to flip the tofu over or spoon the marinade over the top of the tofu half way through the marinating process.
Different ways to serve marinated tofu
This marinated tofu is so versatile! We love it on buddha bowls with brown rice, roasted veggies and a tahini sauce. It makes for a great protein source (and flavor source!) for sandwiches, spring rolls and wraps, especially when paired with a creamy sauce, spread and crisp, fresh vegetables. We also love this tofu on salad and avocado toast.
Please let me know if you make this easy marinated tofu by leaving a comment down below! If you enjoyed it, be sure to leave a 5 star rating by clicking the stars on the recipe card. Additionally, share this recipe with your friends and family and tag me on Instagram @theconscientiouseater.
If you want to continue experiment with tofu, be sure to check out the recipes below. They're both easy and delicious!
- 1 14. oz block firm or extra firm tofu
- juice of ½ a lemon
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1-2 tablespoons coconut sugar*
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce**
- 2 small cloves of garlic, minced
- ½ teaspoon salt
- black pepper
- If desired, press your tofu in a tofu press or by wrapping the block of tofu in a clean dish towl and carefully placing a heavy pot or pan on top to remove extra water. This isn't necessary, but will give you a more flavorful, crispy tofu.
- Slice the tofu into ⅓ inch thin rectangles or triangles.
- In a shallow, rectangular Tupperware, mix together all of the marinade ingredients until combined.
- Place the sliced tofu into the marinade, put the lid on the Tupperware and allow it to sit in the fridge for 15-30 minutes, flipping the tofu over half way through if possible.
- Heat a frying pan over medium heat. Remove the tofu from the marinade and place it directly onto the pan. The olive oil in the marinade should keep the tofu from sticking to the pan. Fry the tofu for 3-5 minutes or until browned before flipping and repeating the process on the other side. You can spoon the extra marinade over the top of the tofu as it cooks or save it to use as a sauce.
- Enjoy the marinated, cooked tofu in buddha bowls, sandwiches, spring rolls, salad, and more!
*You can also use maple syrup if desired. We like 2 tablespoons of sweetener, but you can use less if you like.
**You can use Tarmari instead of soy sauce if gluten free.
Nutrition InformationYield 3 Serving Size 1 serving
Amount Per Serving Calories 281Total Fat 14gSaturated Fat 2gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 11gCholesterol 0mgSodium 997mgCarbohydrates 24gNet Carbohydrates 0gFiber 3gSugar 19gSugar Alcohols 0gProtein 20g
Nutrition information is a rough estimate provided by Nutrionix and should be used for informational purposes only.