Lots of people turn their nose up at tofu which seems a particularly irrational response to this lovely silky stuff that gives you an almost blank canvas on which to paint flavour. It is a delightful texture in your mouth and with little distinct flavour of its own, it soaks up others witht the gusto of a sponge. It's givesthe cook an interesting opportunity to create something new. I have been using it for a while, mostly in chinese dishes, and quickly learned how to prepare it without it breaking up into little nibbets. (Best way is slide cubes of tofu into a bowl of hot salted water and leave for 20 minutes or so and it firms up a treat.) My favourite tofu dish is probably ma po, which I make frequently and never tire of. Reeeeeeeeeeeeeaaaaaaaaaaaaaaally love it to the point it that it would be a contender for last meal.
On Saturday I was in Brixton and popped into the chinese shop on Electric Avenue for some noodles and couldn't resist a block of tofu, planning without even thinking about it to have me some ma po in the week. But then I did get to thinking, and started to wonder about baking it in squares, instructions for which are easy to find with a google search. Given its propensity to soak up flavour it seemed like a good idea. And the man, being the adventurous type who will try anything once, seemed intrigued.
Though not as good as ma po it was decidedly fab and will be on the menu again.
Baked Marinated Tofu
400g block of firm tofu - it must be firm not silken
1/3 cup light soy sauce
3/4 cup water
2 tbspns finely chopped ginger
3 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped
1 tspn chilli flakes
2 tbspn sesame oil
2 spring onions, finely sliced
1 tbspn sesame seeds
Cut the block of tofu into 8 squares. Lay 3 or 4 sheets of kitchen paper on the bench. Put the tofu on top then cover with 3 or 4 more sheets of kitchen paper. Put a heavy chopping board on top and leave for half an hour or so to sqeeze out some moisture.
Mix all the marinade ingredients, except the spring onions and sesame seeds, in a largish bowl and add the tofu. Spoon the liquid over then leave to steep for at least an hour, turning the pieces occasionally so they are all well flavoured.
Pre heat the oven to Gas 4/375F/190C. Lightly oil a flat baking sheet then carefully add the pieces of tofu. Bake for 30 minutes, basting occasionally. Sprinkle the sesame seeds across the top and cook for another 15 minutes.
Serve with steamed rice, sprinkled with spring onions and the rest of the marinade, strained into a little bowl on the side.
Very very good.