Baked Tofu Jerky

Tofu seems like a bland character-less chunk to those unfamiliar with its true virtues. But those qualities are what make it strong. "Bland" tofu can be flavored in any thousands of combinations you can make up. Pressing water out makes room to let marinades and spices in.

Usually I pan fry my tofu, but I can give all the credit to Corinne for telling me about baked tofu. Its less hands on then frying, but a takes a little longer. The results can range from steak-like to jerky-esque. I really enjoy jerky style. Allowing the tofu to cook longer makes it a little chewy. After most of the water is baked out the spices practically stand on their own two legs and walk. They are alive! Plus its pretty nearly dry which means you can put it in your pocket and do something. A great snack, or a meal out of the oven. Nifty. I like to spice my tofu with cumin. The earthiness enhances the umami side of flavors.

Baked Tofu Jerky
1 large block of extra firm tofu, sliced 1/2 inch thick
2 tblsp soy sauce
1 tblsp Worcestershire sauce*
2 tsp hot sauce
1 teaspoon molasses
2 tblsp vegetable oil
10-15 grinds of black pepper
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp ground ginger
sesame seeds for sprinkling

*Note: Worcestershire sauce contains anchovy paste, replace with equal amounts soy sauce if cooking for a vegetarian or vegan.

Remove the water from the tofu by pressing between 2 folded kitchen towels. Lay tofu in a layer over first towel, cover with another towel. Place flat object on top like a baking sheet or cutting board, and weigh down with a heavy object. Let sit for 20 minutes.

Press tofu between to towels to absorb water, place a flat cookie sheet on top, and weigh down

Meanwhile mix the remaining ingredients (except sesame seeds) in a shallow dish to form marinade. After tofu is thoroughly pressed place in the marinade, turning to coat. Let sit for 10 minutes, flip and let sit another 10 minutes. Tofu isn't meat, and the marinade is not tenderizing it. You're just giving the tofu a chance to suck up the flavor. You can't over do it either, so feel free to allow the tofu to chill overnight, covered.

Preheat the oven to 350 when you're ready to bake. Place the tofu on a baking sheet with even space in between. Spoon a little bit of marinade on top of each tofu block and put the tray in the oven. Bake for 45 minutes. Remove from the oven, flip each tofu block over, and spoon a little more marinade on top and scatter with sesame seeds. At this point the jerky is great as a meal, still a little bit soft inside. If you want to really go for jerky turn oven down to 250 and continue to bake until tofu is very dry, even browned in spots, about 20-30 more minutes.


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