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Cast-Iron Tofu

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Tofu is one of those foods that can really go either way.  Well-cooked tofu is delicious.  Poorly cooked tofu is… well, it’s gross.

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Here’s the thing:  well-cooked tofu isn’t hard to make (so there’s really no excuse for yucky tofu when you’re eating out).  My stand-by method of cooking tofu is to bake it, but I think I have a new favorite technique….

 

The cast-iron wok.

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I recently purchased this cast-iron wok from Ikea, and I love it.  My motivation behind the wok purchase was that I recently tested low in iron (common in pregnancy, especially for vegetarians).  Side note: If you’re a vegetarian and want to learn more about the iron issue, I highly recommend this post on No Meat Athlete.  The upshot is that cooking foods in cast-iron skillets (especially with an acid) can increase the iron content of your food.  Oh, and I’m one of those Southerners who would never, ever put soap on her cast iron dishes, which is why my new wok already looks so well-loved.

 

Anyway, this method of tofu preparation is fast, easy and – best of all – tastes deliciously crunchy.  Soggy tofu, be gone.

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Here’s what I do for cast-iron tofu:

 

Step #1: Start with the right type of tofu.  You’ll want to use extra-firm tofu.  If you’re going to cook large chunks or stir-fry tofu in a sauce, you’ll want to press it, which is when you wrap the block in paper towels or clean dish towels and let it rest between two heavy plates.  This squeezes out the excess water.  However, I hate pressing tofu – such a time waster!  If you slice the tofu very thinly and then bake it, you don’t need to press.  Similarly, in this method, you cut the tofu into very small squares, so pressing isn’t required.

 

Step #2:  Slice the tofu into 1-inch squares.

 

Step #3:  Put the cast-iron wok on medium-high heat (I put mine on 8 out of 10).  Let it get hot, and then add a few tablespoons of Earth Balance (basically, a vegan butter).  You could also probably use olive oil or another type of oil/butter.  Not sure if you could do this with cooking spray, though.  You kind of want a little liquid in the pan – it makes the tofu crispy and delicious.

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Step #4:  Add the tofu to the wok and let it cook on one side for a few minutes.  Don’t push it around or flip it until it’s nice and brown.  Then, carefully flip all the squares to the other side and repeat the process on each side.  The entire cooking process takes about 10 minutes.

 

Now, this plain version is quite tasty, especially on a yummy salad or in a wrap, but you can also add seasonings to the tofu as it cooks in the wok!

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I like to add:

 

  • A drizzle of honey;
  • A splash of orange juice;
  • Salt and pepper; or
  • Chili powder

 

You could also soak the tofu in my very favorite Perfect Baked Tofu sauce and then put it in the wok. Yum!

 

Aaaand after eating such a delicious and perfect salad for lunch, I feel far too lazy to make a ‘real’ dinner, so it looks like canned soup and baked French fries are on the menu.  Which isn’t too bad.  Hah.

 

What’s your favorite way to do tofu?

{ 50 comments }

 

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  • kathleen @ the daily crumb February 1, 2012, 8:06 pm

    i’m not a tofu person, but i think it’s because i’ve only had the poorly cooked version (mushy = yuck). will definitely have to try your technique!

    Reply
  • BroccoliHut February 1, 2012, 8:17 pm

    Tofu is one of my all time favorite foods, so I love to eat it pretty much any way, but my favorite is probably Cashew Ginger Tofu. Cashew butter makes everything phenomenally delicious.

    Reply
  • emily February 1, 2012, 8:26 pm

    That looks super tasty! My favorite way to eat tofu is baked. My best recipe involves soaking it overnight in coconut milk (plus other stuff!) and then coating in coconut flakes before baking. Soooo good!

    Reply
  • Deva @ Deva by Definition February 1, 2012, 8:26 pm

    Tofu is one of my favorite foods. I love to press extra-firm tofu and cut it into 1/2 inch cubes, then saute it until golden, and THEN drizzle with some soy sauce whisked with brown sugar and a little water. Once the sauce has caramelized on the tofu, i eat.

    SO GOOD.

    Reply
  • Angela February 1, 2012, 8:32 pm

    I recently discovered that I can eat tofu without it bothering me and I now make it once a week. SO good!!! I’ve been wanting to try baking my tofu in my cast iron skillet in the oven…this is just the nudge I need to try it out. I think it would bake it up even crisper in a cast iron, just like cornbread does. I’ll have to try your stovetop method too. I bet it’s so good in earth balance. I hate mushy/soft tofu with a passion…gotta be crisp!

    Reply
  • Angela / Hey Emitt! February 1, 2012, 8:34 pm

    This way (with soy sauce and nutritional yeast)

    http://tuesdayswithangela.wordpress.com/2010/06/30/veggie-cobb-salad-and-my-favorite-way-to-cook-tofu/

    It is SO good. You have to try it!!

    Reply
  • Laura @ She Eats Well February 1, 2012, 8:39 pm

    I like to coat it with a mixture of olive oil, paprika, garlic salt, pepper, and chili flakes (for spice). Then put it under the broiler until it’s firm and a bit crispy…maybe throw some parmesan cheese on top too! Yum. Tofu can adapt to so many flavors, which is why I love it.

    Reply
  • Tanya February 1, 2012, 8:52 pm

    I mix up miso, nutritional yeast, lemon juice, soy sauce, a little sugar, and some liquid smoke and pour that over sliced tofu and bake then broil til nicely browned. I would eat it regularly, only every time I make it, my teenagers snarf it down immediately.

    Reply
  • Erica February 1, 2012, 8:55 pm

    The cast iron skillet is our favorite way to prepare tofu!! It’s the best way to get a crispy bite :)

    I just found out that I’m anemic too (I’m 32 weeks preggo, so I really need to up the iron quickly so I’m not anemic when I go into labor). I hope I can eat enough good stuff in the next … 7-9 weeks!

    Reply
  • David February 1, 2012, 8:59 pm

    From HTP’s Facebook:

    Healthy Tipping Point

    Regarding The Naked Face, are there any male bloggers out there who would be willing to engage in female beauty habits for 60 days? You don’t have to actually put on makeup, although you would be required to just stare at your reflection for 5 minutes in the morning and do nothing else (seriously). You would have to shave your legs. Anyone?

    That’s unfair. Why should a man take up a beauty routine when you’re giving up yours? Men spend time every day ensuring they look good; for starters, they put on deodorant, shave their faces/other parts of their body, do their hair, iron their clothes for work, moisturize/put on sunscreen and wear uncomfortable things like dress shoes and ties tight around their neck. If anything, you should be asking men if they want to give up theirs.

    The implication here is twofold:

    1) Men put zero effort into having a beauty routine, if switching roles involves women taking on a zero effort routine and men taking on female beauty habits.

    2) Clearly, men need to understand how hard it is for women. Never mind the fact that most women, when asked, dress up for other women who judge them and not for men.

    It’s a little offensive and sexist for you to equate the naked face movement with what men go through. If you really thought it was about switching roles, you’d actually just take on the things men do, rather than paint this as some breaking the patriarchy project.

    Reply
    • CaitlinHTP February 1, 2012, 9:24 pm

      You’re putting words in my mouth and misunderstanding my intention in looking for a male participant. I didn’t say men don’t have a beauty routine. My point of looking for a male to do MY female habits is that I’m interested in seeing what effect it has on their self-image to do more primping (as I’m documenting what happens when I do less) or perception of women who do those things.

      Reply
      • David February 1, 2012, 9:29 pm

        You’re suggesting that males do less by saying “more primping.” I’m suggesting they’re different, but for every person it’s a more/less thing and not gender specific.

        I’m suggesting that if you want to switch roles, you should take a male routine on (all of those above things) or ask for a man to give up their own beauty routine and document the process, not to give up a routine and ask a man to take one on.

        Both men and women struggle with pressure to look a certain way in society and I think you should be advocating that EVERYONE take a break and not for a man to take on a different routine in addition to his own.

        Reply
        • CaitlinHTP February 1, 2012, 9:30 pm

          I understand what you are saying and I am certainly not saying that men do not feel pressure to look a certain way. There are many different ways to tackle a male component to this project and I feel like both your way and my way would be valid and interesting.

          Reply
          • Anne February 2, 2012, 9:04 am

            I understand why a lot of people react (negatively) to the project, it’s a sensible subject. If you want to break down stereotypes, don’t “use” stereotype to make your point. Power, feminism, equality etc. are in the head, in the attitude, in the intelligence, not in the “no make-up-deodorant-bla bla”. You have to read Judith Butler and all those gender studies that are so big in the US academic. A woman is stronger with culture, studies, etc. it doesn’t matter if she wear mascara, it’s so futile and caricatural.

          • CaitlinHTP February 2, 2012, 9:12 am

            Anne – There has actually not been a lot of negative reaction to the project. I think most people understand that the purpose of the project is for Molly and I to explore our own beauty habits and encourage others to think about theirs. As I said in the original post and on the website, we’re not making a larger commentary on other people’s habits but on our own.

            And it might matter TO ME if I wear mascara. It might affect the way that I see myself.

  • Sarena (The Non Dairy Queen) February 1, 2012, 9:01 pm

    I loved it seared and baked…well, when I could have it. Food allergies suck, especially when you can’t have things like this! Your tofu looks delicious!

    Reply
  • chelsey @ clean eating chelsey February 1, 2012, 9:09 pm

    That looks awesome – and I never knew that cooking in an iron skillet could up your iron count! THat’s really neat.

    My favorite way is to bake it at 425 for 30 minutes!

    Reply
  • Army Amy* February 1, 2012, 9:12 pm

    I love good tofu! The kind they make at Pei Wei is my fave. I’m too scared to try and cook it myself. I just assume it’ll come out all kind of crazy.*

    Reply
  • Katie @ Peace Love & Oats February 1, 2012, 9:21 pm

    Lol I can’t eat tofu since I’m allergic to soy… But I love cooking things in a wok! My mom used to make stir-fry all the time in hers!

    Reply
  • Kristen@Change of Pace February 1, 2012, 9:27 pm

    I bought some tofu at the store today so I’m going to have to try your baking method. I don’t have a cast iron. Do you press your tofu before you cook it?

    Reply
    • Caitlin February 2, 2012, 5:00 pm

      Nope

      Reply
  • Liz @ Tip Top Shape February 1, 2012, 9:29 pm

    I haven’t had tofu in a while and this definitely makes me miss it! Fantastic recipe! My favorite way to make it is just to broil it 5-10 minutes per side. Learned how to do it from Mama Pea’s cookbook and it’s my go-to way now.

    Reply
  • Gina @ Running to the Kitchen February 1, 2012, 9:52 pm

    I don’t own a cast iron skillet so I just pan fry cubes of it up in a regular skillet. The trick is not touching them and letting it get all golden brown before flipping. Besides that the only other way I like tofu is breaded (coconut + breadcrumbs is delicious) and baked.

    Reply
  • lynne @lgsmash February 1, 2012, 10:27 pm

    i’m a no soap cast iron skilleter too – only way to go!

    Reply
  • Lindsey February 1, 2012, 10:45 pm

    I like to cook it just like that and add spices based on the type of dish. My husband never liked tofu until we started cooking it this way, now he loves it.

    Reply
  • Khushboo February 1, 2012, 11:08 pm

    I love tofu stir fried Chinese-style! I probably shouldn’t admit that I do love fried tofu too ;)!

    Reply
  • Emilie February 2, 2012, 12:10 am

    When I first tried tofu. I just picked the first pack I saw on the grocery shelf. Turns out it was silken tofu. Didn’t work very well in my stirfry :S

    Reply
  • Dana February 2, 2012, 6:16 am

    You are making me really want a cast iron wok!I am all about fast and easy cooking.

    My favorite way is usually to pan fry it. I learned the tip from Emily at The Daily Garnish… It never fails me

    http://www.dailygarnish.com/2010/01/how-to-a-tofu-tutorial.html

    Reply
  • Caitlin February 2, 2012, 6:53 am

    Is that ethically sourced tofu. Hope no one was displaced in the making of it. Oh well, fingers crossed.

    Reply
  • Sneakers2Sandals February 2, 2012, 7:22 am

    Yummyyy…I’m always ‘afraid’ of cooking tofu. I’ll have to give this a whirl. There’s nothing wrong with an easy dinner!

    Reply
  • Lindsay @ The Reluctant Runner February 2, 2012, 7:36 am

    That’s not a Southern thing, that’s just how you care for cast iron! My mom only has cast iron skillets, and once in awhile my dad would wash one with soap and be in BIG TROUBLE. Lol! I haven’t had a cast iron pan since moving out of my parents’ house almost 10 years ago, I really need to invest in one already!
    I don’t eat tofu anymore because I like to stay away from soy, but when I used to eat it I would always pan fry it. I never drained it enough because I’m really impatient, so it was never as good as the tofu you get in restaurants.

    Reply
  • Linz @ Itz Linz February 2, 2012, 7:38 am

    i love tofu and have never heard that about the cast iron pan!! i love baking tofu, too!

    Reply
  • Chelsea @ One Healthy Munchkin February 2, 2012, 8:09 am

    I love tofu! My favourite way to make it is to marinate it in sesame oil, soy sauce, and maple syrup then bake it!

    Reply
  • Angie (Losing It and Loving It) February 2, 2012, 1:51 pm

    I love tofu and will definitely try to make it in the cast iron skillet. I’m one of those people hate because I DO use soap to clean it yikes. Hubby likes to cook meat in there and I don’t eat meat so I can’t see myself doing it any other way.

    Yes, his mom is always looking down from above and rolling her eyes LOL

    I usually like BBQ tofu on the grill. Yum!

    Reply
  • Amber K February 2, 2012, 2:03 pm

    I learned about adding extra iron through cooking in an iron skillet back when a friend’s grandparents did Atkins. They got WAY too much iron with all of that meat in their cast iron. I didn’t even think about actually using one to get enough iron though!

    Reply
  • Kattrina February 2, 2012, 3:11 pm

    I am always worried about eating soy because of the phytoestrogen. Do you have any opinions about that? Especially now that you are pregnant? Do you believe any of the studies that talk about tofu/soy being bad for women? I’m definitely not judging or critiquing your eating – just honestly wondering what you think.

    Reply
    • CaitlinHTP February 2, 2012, 4:55 pm

      Nope, not worried but only because I don’t eat soy every day. Based on what I’ve read, unless you are at an increase risk for breast cancer, it is completely fine to have soy a few times a week (and actually may be beneficial and prevent other cancers).

      Reply
  • Rance April 3, 2012, 4:43 pm

    I find that coconut oil is a great healthy alternative. Plus it melts at a lower temperature. I usually rub a thin layer of coconut oil on to my cast iron cookware after each cleaning.

    Reply
  • Alice June 25, 2012, 10:33 pm

    Tofu is so good!

    Reply
  • Tricia September 4, 2012, 7:25 pm

    Ok so I’ve tried this method once but the tofu came out TOO crunchy. What did I do wrong? I might have cut it too small. I did use olive oil instead of butter. Definitely trying butter next time!

    Reply
    • Caitlin September 4, 2012, 9:25 pm

      Overcooked? Try cooking a bit less! Light golden brown is perfect.

      Reply

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