Ever wondered how to cook with frozen tofu? Freezing tofu transforms the texture and allows it to soak up flavours even more effectively. This recipe uses a simple marinade of sesame oil, soy sauce, chilli flakes and black pepper to create a perfect addition to just about any dish.
Tofu is a divisive food: some people love it in any form, some only like it cooked in certain ways, whilst others are adamant they don’t like it at all. This recipe is intended to appeal to all of these people.
Since tofu is such an expert at absorbing the flavours it is marinated and cooked in, its texture can be the real make-or-break element. Freezing tofu then thawing it before cooking brings about a complete transformation; the soft smooth tofu you put into the freezer becomes replaced with a new spongy ingredient that, well, behaves exactly as though it were a sponge. When you fry it, crispy edges form and you have a delicious and versatile addition to any meal.
The same rules apply here as to regular tofu in that there is no end to the different ways you could flavour it. It’s really does feel like a new ingredient altogether if you’ve never used it before though, so in this recipe I’ve kept it super simple with just sesame oil, soy sauce, chilli flakes and black pepper. I put all of my effort into the tofu and served it up as a simple tofu “steak” sandwich with a dash of tahini sauce followed by peri peri sauce in a pumpkin seed roll.
Freeze your tofu in its original packaging (or in a pot if you are using leftovers) at least twenty-four hours but ideally a few days before you plan to make this then allow a full twenty-four hours to defrost. The liquid soaks up quickly so leaving for ten minutes to marinate is sufficient.
400g block of firm tofu, frozen and left to thaw
1tbsp sesame oil
4tbsp soy sauce
1tsp dried chilli flakes + ½ tsp to serve
½ tsp black pepper
1-2 tbsp olive oil, for frying
1. Remove the tofu from the packaging (retaining the pot it came in, if applicable) then cut into around three or four large chunks. Gently squeeze out some of the excess water, being careful that the blocks don’t break apart. Wrap each one in kitchen roll and place them all on a plate with a heavy pan or pot on top. Leave for around half an hour to drain.
2. Remove the tofu from the kitchen paper. There will still be a lot of liquid left in the tofu at this stage so squeeze each block between your palms (being careful not to squirt yourself with it!) over something that can catch the water. Hold the tofu lengthways across your palm as you squeeze to prevent breakage.
3. Cut the tofu into 1cm thick slices. Squeeze each of these slices in the manner above to remove any remaining water. Place the slices back in the original container the tofu came in or in a similar sized pot – using a pot this size keeps the marinade near the tofu and ensures it is all soaked up.
4. In a bowl, mix together the marinade ingredients. Pour over the tofu, taking care to cover each slice fully. Leave to marinate for ten minutes. At this point, you can either keep the wide slices or cut into thinner strips or cubes.
5. Heat a frying pan over a medium-high heat. Once hot, add in the olive oil followed shortly by the tofu.
6. Cook, turning frequently, until the sides have crisped and turned darker. The oil will be soaked up quickly, add more if it starts to stick. Remove from heat. Serve with, or cook into, your chosen dish they are accompanying or simply eat as a snack. They can also be enjoyed cold.
This tofu works perfectly with other marinades too – why not try it out using this recipe for vegan bacon?
Have you ever tried freezing tofu before cooking with it? Share your marinade ideas below!