A lot of people kick off the new year with the resolve to eat less meat, so this feels like a good time to say what I gotta say about tofu.
In one of those moments Facebook offers up something you didn't know you needed in your life, I joined a tofu enthusiasts group. I dunno if I'd quite describe myself as an "enthusiast," I'm not out here spreading the tofu gospel or anything, but I do eat it on the regular.
Now, in this group, apparently, one of the major points of strife is over whether or not you need a tofu press. For the uninitiated, a tofu press is exactly what it sounds like, it presses your tofu to expel water so you get that crispy-crispy.
I'm team tofu press because I'm generally all about living a life of ease. I used to be about that stack-books-on-top-of-your-tofu-wrapped-in-paper-towels life but 1) I was wasting so many paper towels! And 2) The stack almost always toppled over and would scare me mid-cooking, which is kinda dangerous. Not having to deal with the leaning-tower-tofu scenario definitely upped how willing I was to make tofu.
This is the tofu press I have:
And it's fine. Fine. I remember it cost me a bit more than I wanted to pay, but I can't remember how much it was, and I've probably had it like 5 years at this point. But it looks like tofu presses have come a long way in that time and if anything ever happens to this sucker, I'm replacing it with one of these:
It appears to be an easier, faster, less fiddly style of press and is silly cheap.
If you're not ready to invest in a tofu press, some people swear by the freezing method. It requires too much advance thinking for me though and too many steps, but you do you.
I make this crispy tofu recipe about twice a month. Some modifications I make:
- For whatever reason, I rarely bother doing the mushroom part. I usually sub in a fresh chopped up head of cauliflower.
- I've also used okra and done it up the same way the tofu is done up in this recipe for a very crispy veggie.
- I swap out sesame seeds for furikake (grab it at the Asian grocery store or Trader Joe's). I find, as is, that's an overwhelming amount of sesame seeds and the furikake makes it more interesting.
- If you have a large enough baking tray, I recommend adding chickpeas. It's a nice protein boost. I just take a can, drain it, rinse it, and then throw those chickpeas on. Chickpeas take a while to get crispy, so sometimes I'll even put them in the over first while I'm finishing up the rest of the recipe.
- Another tip: Put your oven shelf as low as possible for this recipe. The lower down your baking sheet, the crispier your veggies can get because they won't be hanging out in steam cloud as they release moisture (I can't remember where I read this, but it wooooorks!).
- Leftovers are great. I'll eat them cold over some rice or you can reheat by sauteing or using your toaster oven to preserve the crispyness.
Didn't You Say Something About Miso?
If your aim is to up the veggies in your meals, miso is such an under appreciated, simple ingredient. You can buy miso at the Asian grocery store or Whole Foods. Most recipes call for "white" miso (which means it's mild, not actually white in appearance). It goes great on meat and fish too, but add a little miso and your veggies become the star of the dish.
I made a NYT miso brussels sprouts recipe over the weekend and it was like three ingredients and my sister makes a great miso-roasted carrot recipe. Low-intensity miso recipes abound!
If you've never cooked with miso or tasted it, it's hard to describe, but basically if peanut butter weren't nutty... it'd be miso...? It's salty, just a bit sweet, has that sort of funky umami you want in your food. Anyways, give it a go and let me know what you think.