I like tofu as much as the next vegetarian, but I've had some trouble preparing it at home. While restaurants serve up golden, crisp and uniformly cut pieces of tofu, my home-cooked tofu invariably fell apart during the cooking process, leaving me with little broken bits of fried soy.
I learned a couple of great tricks for preparing tofu this year: from Chef Erik's technique of coating the chopped tofu in flour and arrowroot before frying it (which helps the tofu stay together) to Sala's method of cutting the tofu into broad, thin slabs, which are easier to fry up. And now I have a third trick in my tofu-cooking arsenal: baking the tofu rather than frying it.
I've known about baked tofu for a while, but I had a different understanding of why and how the tofu would be baked. My old understanding was that cubes of tofu were marinated in a sauce (like a spicy tahini or peanut-based sauce) and then baked before being served as a main dish, along with some sort of grain. My new take involves substituting crispy, golden baked tofu in recipes that call for pan-fried tofu.
To begin, take tofu that has been rinsed, patted dry and cut into blocks, and place it on a cookie sheet that has been lightly brushed with canola oil. Brush each piece of tofu lightly with canola oil.
Bake the tofu at 375 degrees for about 15 minutes (or until crispy and golden).
Then, add the baked tofu to a recipe in place of pan-fried tofu! Today, I added the baked tofu to a red curry sauce (yes, I am still working my way through the jar of commercial Thai curry paste...), which I ate over rice noodles.
I like this technique because it doesn't use much oil, and it gives me the uniform, golden bits of crispy tofu that I've been hoping for.
I expect to rotate through all three methods for preparing tofu when using recipes that call for fried tofu. And, yes, I'll probably still marinate and bake tofu as well (it's a great winter dish...).