Crusted Lemon Tofu

A simple marinade for tofu that has a bright and fresh lemony flavor. Pan frying the pressed tofu in arrowroot flour creates a crispy outside that is so tender on the inside. This recipe can be used year round with a side of any vegetable of your choice forming a complete meal. You also might want to check out a blog post I wrote a little while back on how to successfully press tofu so that you always have a fabulous tofu.

Ingredients

2 blocks extra firm tofu, pressed and drained
1 tablespoon brown rice vinegar
1 tablespoon agave
½ tsp sea salt
½ tsp ground black pepper
1 cup arrowroot powder, for dredging
2 tablespoon neutral tasting oil (refined coconut or canola preferred)

Sauce Ingredients

½ cup vegetable broth
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon agave
2 tablespoon sesame oil 

1 inch knob finely grated ginger
1 tablespoon arrowroot powder, diluted with 1 ½ tablespoon water
2-3 sliced lemon wedges, for serving

Toasted Sesame Seeds, for serving

Directions

  1. Press the tofu over a rack for about 10 minutes, or check out this product I reviewed on pressing tofu, which I now use regularly.
  2.  Slice into about ¼ inch thick strips. Drizzle the strips with the rice vinegar and agave and sprinkle with sea salt and pepper. Allow the marinate to coat the tofu for 10-30 minutes.
  3. While the tofu is marinating, create your lemon sauce by combining all ingredients except arrowroot and water in a sauce pan. Heat for approximately 3 minutes and add arrowroot slurry. Whisk and cook for only one additional minute. Set aside, covered to keep warm.
  4. Pre-heat a large skillet and add the oil.
  5. Place 1 cup arrowroot powder in a large dish and dredge each piece of the tofu in the arrowroot.
  6. Sauté coated tofu on each side for approximately 3 minutes, or until the tofu is golden.
  7. When the tofu is finished, place on platter and top with lemon sauce. Sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds and lemon wedges.

Zucchini & Carrot with Tofu in a Coconut sauce

A few years ago, I went to Costa Rica’s Vista Del Valle (View of the Valley). It’s a lush self-sustaining hotel that grows its own produce, has an estuary, tropical birds and a butterfly garden pitched atop a mountain that is carved into the tropical forest. Below you will find some of the photos from our trip. The restaurant uses all the produce that grows in the forest, creating surprising dishes from Earth gifts. The head chef there served this dish to me from El Rosario, Costa Rica who graciously shared this simple and outstanding Zucchini & Carrot with Tofu in Coconut Sauce. I decided to post it now, because I just got some fall carrots from my CSA and had some zucchini to throw in. At the bottom of this post you will find directions on how to purchase tofu and make it taste outstanding.

Race Horses flown in from Spain
Outdoor restaurant overlooking the lush mountains. Even the tables are made from the trees that fall in the forest.

Zucchini & Carrot with Tofu in Coconut Sauce

Follow post to the bottom where I make suggestions on how to purchase and make tofu taste great.
Serve this dish over jasmine rice and garnish with some fresh basil for a beautiful presentation.

 Serves 4

 

Ingredients
3 tablespoons canola oil
1 (16 ounce) package of firm tofu, pressed and drained (click on link for directions) and cut into 1 inch cubes
1 medium onion
3 carrots, julienned
2 zucchinis, trimmed and julienned
½ cup Coconut Milk 
½ teaspoon red pepper
1-teaspoon sea salt
Brown Jasmine Rice or your favorite rice
, for serving
 
Directions
  1. Preheat that skillet over high heat. Add about 2 tablespoons of oil. Spread over the surface of the pan. Pat the tofu dry one more time and put it in the skillet it in a single layer, with plenty of room around each piece. Don’t crowd the pan, or the heat will drop too much and the tofu will steam, not brown. You will probably need to do this in two batches if it’s too crowded. Cook on one side until it is deeply golden brown, then flip. If you are doing cubes, it becomes impractical to get all sides of every piece, so instead you’ll just toss them every minute or so and hope to get most of them.  When both sides are done, remove to a plate.
  2.  In the same skillet, heat remaining oil over medium-high heat. Sauté the onion, stirring and shaking the pan, for about 7 minutes or until it just begins to turn translucent. Add the carrots and sprinkle with salt so that the carrots will sweat. Cook, stirring often for 5 minutes. Then add the zucchini and stir to combine with all the other ingredients. Cover the skillet, reduce the heat and let simmer for another 5 minutes.
  3. Uncover the skillet, add the tofu to the vegetables and stir gently. Pour in the coconut milk and red pepper and stir to distribute evenly. You can add salt to taste if you like.
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Crispy Pan-Fried Tofu

 
I use this method in lots of recipes, and frequently for simple stir fry weeknight meals. It is easy to do, takes just minutes, and the results are far superior to simply cutting up cubes and throwing them in your stir-fry.Step 1: Buy Good Tofu. Find a store that moves a lot of tofu so you are getting the freshest tofu available. You want the stuff packed in a rectangular, water filled box (or maybe wrapped in plastic), in the refrigerator section, not the shelf-stable boxes. Choose an extra-firm tofu with the latest expiration date you can find. If you open it and smell more than a tiny whiff of sourness,  or it feels slimy, it isn’t going to be good.
Step 2: Dry Your Tofu. Open the package, drain out the water, and press it. You can follow another post I wrote I pressing tofu here. Cut the tofu into desired cubes or slabs. What we need to do is get the surface of your tofu dry so that it browns up on the skillet. Put down a clean dishtowel. Lay the tofu out in a single layer on said dish towel. Put another clean dishtowel on top and pat well, all over, to remove as much surface moisture as possible. It will also reduce dangerous and unpleasant sputtering when you put it in the skillet.

Step 3: Pan Fry Your Tofu. The optimum pan for this job is a cast iron skillet.  It holds a ton of heat, and develops a lovely non-sticking surface. You will cook this over very high heat, in a flat bottomed skillet because it allows the tofu to stay in contact with the hot surface for longer periods of time.

So: preheat that skillet over high heat. Add about 2 tablespoons of a neutral vegetable oil that can tolerate a high smoke point, like sunflower oil or canola oil. Spread over the surface of the pan. Pat the tofu dry one more time and put it in the skillet it in a single layer, with plenty of room around each piece. Don’t crowd the pan, or the heat will drop too much and the tofu will steam, not brown. You will probably need to do this in two batches if it’s too crowded.
Cook on one side until it is deeply golden brown, then flip. If you are doing cubes, it becomes impractical to get all sides, so instead you’ll just toss them every minute or so and hope to get most of them.  When both sides are done, remove to a plate. Don’t add the vegetables and sauce on top of the tofu. It will ruin the crust. Instead, remove the tofu from the pan, do your vegetables, then add the tofu back just in time to marry with the sauce.

Tofu Xpress Review

Comes with:
– a Marinating Lid
– an Instruction Booklet and Recipe Guide.
– 1 year limited warranty



As I was writing the chapter on Tofu for my upcoming cookbook on Silk Road inspired vegetarian cuisine, I decided it would be a good idea to include step by step instructions on how to press tofu. Tofu comes in a variety of textures from silken to extra firm and the firmer the tofu, the higher the fat content. In order for tofu to taste good, it needs to be pressed, drained and then marinated. The water content needs to be removed, so that the tofu can absorb the marinade.


As I was researching the steps to pressing tofu, I came by a tool called Tofu XPress, which is designed to press tofu with out the hassle of setting up so many props to drain the water from tofu. Subsequently, I contacted Tofu XPress and asked them if I could try out this tool for my cookbook and that I would write a review on it.

I only use organic non-GMO tofu
Cut around the edges of the package to remove water content from the package and drain over sink
It’s easy enough to slide the lid on the tofu press, however the spring sat slanted on the tofu.
After 30 minutes of pressing, look how much water got released. 
* Due to the spring sitting slanted on the tofu, one side got more pressed than the other.



After using the TofuXpress, I can say that it does remove water efficiently from tofu to change its texture and allows for significant marination to occur. The longer you press the tofu, the more water it will excrete. The pictures show a pressing of 30 minutes, which I was satisfied with, however I will look into why the spring was not sitting evenly on the tofu next time to make sure I don’t press my tofu lopsided.


I am saying goodbye to using a lot of paper towels and the weight of books to drain my tofu and will be turning to Tofu XPress regularly to prepare tofu.

There is an optional Light Tension #2 Spring attachment for pressing cheeses, silken tofu, and yogurts, but I did not get a chance to use it. The tool converts into a marinating dish – however I did not use it, because I sliced up my tofu and this option took a lot of space.

Marinade for Orange Spiced Tofu


Here are more recipes on my blog using tofu that needs to be pressed:
Spicy Tofu & Asparagus Stir Fry
Cabbage Slaw in Peanut Sesame Dressing
Mixed Tofu & Vegetables in Lime Ginger Sauce
Orange Spiced Tofu

* Update on this post 5/30/12 *

Since I posted this review, Tofu XPress reached out to me to explain why the tofu got pressed slanted.
” If after inserting the assembled top into the base of the unit you notice the Press Plate (the part touching the brick of tofu) is not lying flush on the brick of tofu then remove the assembled top and press down on the corner of the tofu that is sticking up so the brick of tofu is even in height on all sides, then put back the assembled top in the base. The Press Plate should now be sitting flush on the brick of tofu.”