What’s your favorite way to prepare the fresh tofu that’s right out of the package? Do you thicken the sauce, that adds the flavors, in your tofu dish? I use cornstarch to thicken the sauce when I prepare fresh tofu. Although using thickened sauce is a quick and easy way to add flavors to the tofu, it’s not the tastiest way, especially if you like your tofu dishes to have adventurous flavors like I do.
However, with the oven baked tofu blocks, all the flavors are soaked in during the marinating process. With the various flavors and chewy texture, the baked tofu can be used in many ways, such as in sandwiches, salads, or even on the grill. Before you scroll down to the bottom of this post to save/print the recipe, I have a few more tips to share with you. These tips will help you make it a perfectly seasoned crispy oven baked tofu.
Tips for Making Oven Baked Tofu
Use firm or extra firm tofu for this recipe.
Tofu is like a sponge. Because it contains large amount of water it’s difficult to absorb extra watery sauces. Firm and extra firm tofu contains less water, and it will make the press process much easier and quicker.
Use an oven broiler pan/grid set, a large baking pan, and heavy weights to press the water out of tofu.
You don’t have to own a tofu press to do this step. You also don’t have to use kitchen towels to do this either. The best part is that you can do quite a few pieces of tofu all at once (I’ll press four pieces in one batch). Place tofu on the broiler grid and collect the squeezed-out excess water from tofu in the pan. On top of the tofu, I used a large baking sheet and two 64-fl oz juice bottles as weights to press the tofu (a heavy book would work too). Lay the juice bottles flat, so that the weight is distributed as even as possible over the tofu blocks. Leave it set on the kitchen counter for 1 hour and then flip the tofu over. Press for an additional hour.
Add runny sauce to marinate the pressed tofu blocks overnight.
Since most of the water content has been pressed out from tofu blocks, they are ready to reabsorb liquid from the marinating sauce to add the flavors. You don’t want to add too much liquid at this point, otherwise the baked tofu will not be crispy on the outside. If you don’t add enough liquid, the tofu will become too dry during baking. If you follow the recipe in this post, they should turn out just right.
Completely cool the baked tofu on cooling rack to get the best crispy result.
Bake the marinated tofu at 400 F for 30 minutes and flip them over halfway through baking. Right after the baked tofu blocks are removed from hot oven, they may not be as crispy as you desired. However, after completely cooling down to room temperature on cooling rack, the surface will be harder. Caution! Don’t over bake it. I have done that! Over baking dehydrates the tofu making them hard to chew.
Make large batch ahead of time, freeze them, and use later in a salad, sandwich, soup, stir-fry, grill, et al.
Making these baked tofu blocks doesn’t require a lot of active time in the kitchen. The flavor is very versatile. Don’t limit yourself to just the Sichuan style spicy ones (like in this recipe). Barbecue flavor, spicy curry, or roasted garlic flavors are also great choices.
I hope these tips will help you make the best oven baked tofu you’ve ever had with your favorite flavor. I’d be very happy to hear from you what kind of flavor/sauce you used, and how you used them in your future dishes.
- 24 oz firm tofu
- 1 medium size star anise
- ½ tsp fennel seeds
- 1 tsp Sichuan peppercorn
- ½ tbs fresh ginger (peeled and minced)
- 3 cloves
- 1 tsp unsulfured blackstrap molasses
- 1 tbs soy sauce (gluten-free if desired)
- 1 tbs chili sauce (gluten-free if desired)
- ⅔ tsp kosher salt
- ⅓ cup water
- Press the tofu: Remove the tofu blocks from the package and place them on the broiler grid and collect the squeezed-out excess water from tofu in the pan. Set a large baking sheet on top of the tofu and weight it down with heavy weights, such as two 64 fl oz juice bottle or something heavy. Leave it set on kitchen counter for 1 hour and then flip the tofu over. Press for an additional hour. You will see a lot of water has collected in the broiler pan in the end.
- Marinade the tofu: Slice the tofu in half so each slice is about ½”-3/4” thick. Use a mini chopper or coffee grinder to grind all the spices into powder. Combine the powder and the rest of marinade ingredients. Lay a single layer of the sliced tofu in a flat-bottomed refrigerator safe container and pour the marinating sauce onto the tofu. Spread the sauce if necessary to make it evenly coated on each slice of the tofu. Cover with lid and refrigerate overnight to get the best result.
- Bake the tofu: Preheat oven to 400 °F. Lightly grease a metal baking sheet or line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Place the marinated tofu onto the baking sheet in a single layer. Bake 25-30 minutes and turn over halfway through baking.
- Remove the baked tofu from oven and transfer them onto a wire cooling rack.
2. The baked tofu can be stored in a refrigerator for up to one week. They can be stored in freezer for a longer period of time.