Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Baked marinated tofu 豆腐のピリ辛オーブン焼き

One weekend, my wife found this tofu recipe in the Washington Post and suggested I make it. I made slight modifications and served it as a drinking snack.
The below is the ingredients list from the original recipe.

14 ounces (1 block) extra-firm tofu
1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
1 tablespoon low-sodium soy sauce
1 tablespoon rice wine, sake or dry sherry
1 tablespoon rice vinegar or apple cider vinegar
1 medium clove garlic, pressed or finely chopped
1-inch piece peeled ginger root, grated
4 tablespoons water
1/2 teaspoon hot chili paste

Since I did not have a chili paste, I used a Chinese garlic chili paste but otherwise followed the recipe. They suggest freezing and thawing the tofu before using it in this recipe. This is an interesting suggestion since one of the Japanese tofu products is called "Shimidoufu" 凍み豆腐 ("shim" means "frozen") or "Kouyadoufu" 高野豆腐. In the "old days", this was produced by hanging a thin block of tofu outside in the cold winter. This essentially freeze dries the tofu. I am sure, now, this type of tofu is produced in a factory freeze-drying machine. The end product is hard and dried squares which will last a long time. You simply hydrate and simmer it in a seasoning broth. The texture is completely different from the original tofu and firmer and spongier. I often make this for New Year (If you follow the link, on the left and front,  the triangular white item is simmered "kouyadofu"). I will certainly try this freezing and thawing tofu method for this dish, which is different from freeze-dried tofu, in the near future.

This time, I just drained the excess moisture from tofu. I cut the drained tofu into 1 inch cubes and mixed with the marinade (left in the image below). I placed it without a lid in a 350F convection oven. I baked it for 45 minutes mixing and turning several time until the marinade was almost all gone and just started scorching around the edge (right in the image below). I made a slight modification and added finely chopped scallion (2 stalks) just 5 minutes before I took the tofu out of the oven.
I served it with chiffonade of perilla as a garnish. The taste profile is similar to "Mapo tofu" but much drier and the tofu has a much firmer texture. It is nicely hot (both spice and temperature) with garlicky (this one is more garlicky than it should have been since the chili paste I used also included garlic and I used grated garlic instead of chopped garlic) and ginger tastes. Perilla and scallion also added to the flavor. We really like this dish.

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