Baked Tofu

MAKES: 4 or more servings

TIME: About 1 hour

Treated this way, tofu acquires a terrific, firm crust, while its interior gains the texture of a pleasant custard, almost egglike. It’s basic, essential, and for some reason relatively unknown. It’s also distinctively easier, neater, and leaner than the more common deep frying. Cooled and sliced or cubed, baked tofu is ready for anything: sandwiches, salads, stir-fries you name it virtually anywhere you’d use Deep-Fried Tofu.

1 to 2 pounds firm tofu

Salt

Preheat the oven to 350В°F. Dry the tofu with paper towels you don’t have to be too compulsive about this; just blot off excess water and sprinkle it with salt. Put in a nonstick skillet or baking pan.

Bake for about 1 hour, undisturbed. The tofu is done when the crust is lightly browned and firm. Remove and use immediately or cool, wrap, and refrigerate for up to 3 days.

Variations

Soy-Baked Tofu. About 10 seconds more work and for many uses a significant improvement. After blotting off water, brush liberally with good soy sauce. You may still want to sprinkle with salt, but very lightly. Bake as directed.

Miso-Baked Tofu. Now you’re adding serious flavor, but still quite easily: Thin a couple of tablespoons of any miso with sake, white wine, vegetable stock, or water, just to brushable consistency. After blotting off water, brush the tofu liberally with this mixture and bake as directed.

Barbecue-, Teriyaki-, or Ponzu-Baked Tofu. Perhaps better suited to Grilled or Broiled Tofu (right), but easier, more leisurely, and not at all bad: After blotting off water, brush the tofu liberally with any barbecue sauce (to make your own, see Fast, Down-Home Barbecue Sauce), Teriyaki Sauce, or Ponzu Sauce.