Several weeks ago, listening to Chris Nuttall-Smith’s superb podcast, The Fridge Light, I was freed from a misunderstanding. In the episode about tofu, “Blank Slate”, Chris explained how, scientifically, tofu cannot absorb flavours. All it can do while sitting in a marinade is release water, not suck anything back in.
So all the people who’ve been trying to convince you to like tofu all these years by telling you “it’s a blank canvas, add whatever flavour you want!!” are WRONG WRONG WRONG. Tofu has its own distinct–and may I boldly say delicious!–flavour.
I’ve always loved tofu. I can eat it fresh and cold, drizzled with ponzu or soy sauce; I love it fried, baked or braised. I’ve raged against extra-firm tofu (just no) and extolled the glories of medium and soft tofu. But I’ve never been able to pinpoint what precisely it is that I so adore about tofu.
I love tofu’s magical, custardy, frankly kind of plain and squishy self. And now I’m proud of that. Thanks, Chris!
For a real-time demo of this recipe, plus a ton more shopping, prepping and storage tips, watch this episode of the 20-Minute Cooking School.
- 3 tablespoons natural peanut butter
- 3 - 4 tablespoons boiling water
- 2 tablespoons hoisin sauce
- 2 teaspoons lime juice
- 1 teaspoon sriracha or hot chili-garlic sauce
- 1 teaspoon sesame oil
- 450g package medium or medium-firm tofu
- ⅓ cup cornstarch
- 2 to 3 tablespoons canola oil
- Whisk the peanut butter, water, hoisin, lime juice, hot sauce and sesame oil together in a medium bowl. Reserve.
- Cut the tofu block into 8 slices. Gently but assertively press them dry with paper towels. Place in a large bowl. Add the cornstarch and toss gently to coat.
- Heat a large non-stick frying pan over medium high. Add the canola oil, then add the tofu slices. Cook 2 to 3 min per side or until deeply golden. Reduce the heat as necessary so they don't burn. Repeat with the rest of the tofu, adding more oil if the pan needs it.
- Drizzle the peanut sauce over the tofu and oh my god just try not to eat it all.