The Complete Guide to Marinating Tofu

Tofu masters Tofuture are often asked what the best way to marinate tofu is, so we asked them to share their top tips on how to marinate tofu to ensure each bite is bursting with flavour!

Tofu is often unfairly thought of as being bland and tasteless, but as tofu masters Tofuture show us, that’s certainly not the case when you get to grips with the best way to marinate your block.

Preparing your tofu

There are no hard and fast rules when it comes to creating a good marinade, but there are some general guidelines which are helpful to follow. It should be a liquid and a marinade is essentially made up of ingredients taken from 4 different categories.

  1. Before you marinade, press your tofu according to this pressing guideline. If you don’t own a tofu press: drain the tofu for at least 15 minutes, then wrap the tofu in kitchen towel and place on a hard, flat surface like a chopping board. Place another chopping board on top of the tofu, and balance something heavy, like a cast iron pan, on top to press the block of tofu. Leave for 15 minutes.
  2. When pressed, cut the block into cubes (good for stir-fries and salads) or strips, about ½ cm thick.
  3. Mix the ingredients for your marinade together in a sealable container and add tofu pieces, making sure they are fully covered by the liquid. Leave in the fridge and return to the marinating tofu at least once to shake the container.

How long to marinade?

As a general rule, the longer the better – ideally from a few hours to overnight, but if you only have half an hour that’s still better than no time at all.

Making your own marinades

Play around with the ingredients, however choosing at least one from each group below gives a perfect balance of flavours. Adjust your choices to cater for your own taste preferences, or those of your guests, the region around the world your dish originates from, or at times (if you are anything like us) simply whatever you can find in the cupboard!

Oil

The oil, olive, sesame, ground nut or other fat such as soya yoghurt or coconut milk will help the other flavours infuse and help the tofu to crisp when cooking

Acid

Acts as an enzyme which allows the ingredients to mingle citrus juices such as lemon, lime, orange, wine, or a vinegar for example balsamic, red wine, apple cider.

Salty/Sweet

Salty: tamari or soy sauce, vegan Worcestershire sauce, capers, miso paste. Sweet: maple syrup, agave nectar, brown sugar, molasses, date syrup

Aromatic

Onion, garlic, ginger, mustard, or kelp. Sauces: hot pepper sauce, liquid smoke, hickory, tomato purée, olive paste, or nutritional yeast. Herbs such as thyme, basil, rosemary, or oregano. And spices like paprika, cayenne, cumin, coriander, turmeric, and red pepper flakes can all work really well and bring serious flavour

Additional tips

You are now ready to start cooking, you can cook the tofu any way you like; bake, grill, barbeque, shallow or deep fry or griddle.

  • If you are baking, think 180 deg C. for 35 minutes, turning halfway through. You can also add the marinade to the dish you’re cooking to act as a sauce; the tofu will continue to absorb flavour as it cooks. If you are barbecuing or grilling, brush your tofu with the extra marinade as it cooks to increase the flavour.
  • Avoid adding salt directly to your marinade, use tamari or soy sauce, capers, miso or olives, as an alternative way to provide the salty taste as regular salt can quickly overwhelm your marinade and extract moisture from the tofu rather than introduce flavour.
  • If you have any marinade left, the good news is, as all the ingredients above are plant-based, you can re-use it for another few days so you are covered for tomorrow’s kebabs, and the next day’s roasted veg (just keep it in the fridge). Hooray.

Customise your marinades

There are no exact quantities here, play around with them starting with 1 tbsp for liquids and 1 tsp for powders and increase from there. Add a little water if you need more liquid but not too much as this will dilute the intensity.

 

Type Ingredients
Asian Mirin, brown rice vinegar, soy sauce, toasted sesame oil, lemon juice, garlic granules, ground ginger, cayenne pepper, agave nectar
BBQ Tamari, maple syrup, liquid smoke (a dash, it’s very strong), onion powder, garlic powder, sumac, smoked paprika, ground black pepper
Canadian Chipotle smoked hot pepper sauce, a dash of Bourbon, maple syrup, smoked paprika
‘Chicken’ Red wine vinegar, Dijon mustard, nutritional yeast, hot chili powder, olive oil
Ethiopian Olive oil, ground cumin, coriander, cardamom, turmeric, chili, cloves, all spice, fenugreek, cayenne pepper, ginger, dried apricot
‘Fish’ Soy milk, kelp flakes, lemon juice, crushed garlic, black pepper
French White wine vinegar, olive oil, white wine, Dijon mustard, crushed garlic, black pepper, fresh or dried thyme
Greek Natural soy yogurt, chopped spring onion, minced garlic, lemon juice and zest, olive oil, fresh oregano
Indian Warm water, ground coriander, turmeric, ground cumin, ginger, all spice, cinnamon, celery salt, chili powder
Italian Olive oil, lemon juice, garlic powder, oregano, fresh or dried Italian herbs, nutritional yeast, balsamic vinegar, pepper
Malagasy Natural yogurt, tomato ketchup, lemon juice, finely chopped green chilies, dried parsley, mild curry powder, ground cumin
Mediterranean Balsamic vinegar, red wine, shallots, dried rosemary, dried thyme, olive oil, minced garlic, pepper
Mexican Chipotle sauce, lime juice, tomato purée, garlic powder, onion powder, chili powder, cayenne pepper
North African Olive oil, lemon juice, cumin seeds, sweet paprika, fresh coriander, fresh parsley, cayenne pepper
Polish Groundnut oil, juniper berries, black pepper, crushed garlic, onion powder, sweet paprika, brown sugar, oregano, thyme, marjoram, mint, mustard seeds
‘Pork’ White wine, lime juice, tamari, apple cider vinegar, crushed garlic, agave nectar
‘Sausage’ Rapeseed oil, onion powder, nutritional yeast, celery salt, ground coriander, ground black pepper
Scandinavian Lemon juice, mustard seeds, dill, dried parsley, chives, agave nectar
Spanish Hot chili sauce, olive oil, tomato ketchup, crushed garlic, pinch of saffron, dried oregano, cayenne pepper
‘Steak’ Veg stock diluted in hot water, vegan Worcestershire sauce, lemon juice, dried basil, dried parsley, garlic powder, onion powder, ground white pepper
Tandoori Natural soy yogurt, lemon juice, minced garlic, freshly grated ginger, turmeric, cumin, coriander, cinnamon, paprika, black pepper
Teriyaki Soy sauce, molasses, or Hoisin plum sauce, lemon juice, crushed garlic, grated ginger, 5 spice powder
Thai Coconut milk, tamari, kelp flakes, sugar, lime juice, crushed garlic, freshly grated ginger, crushed lemon grass
Tropical Pineapple juice, rice vinegar, tomato ketchup, soy sauce, garlic, ginger, maple syrup
Turkish Tomato paste, hot pepper sauce, water, chopped onions, apple cider vinegar, olive oil, crushed garlic
Zesty Orange Orange juice, tomato ketchup, soy sauce, minced garlic, freshly grated ginger

Source: Vegan Food and Living

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