This recipe basically is one of the easiest I’ve ever written on the blog. A crispy tofu that’s gluten-free and always simple!
When I lived in Los Angeles years (and years and years) ago, I remember shopping at Trader Joe’s one day. I noticed a strange, rectangular-shaped type of cheese sealed in plastic.
It was weird. It was drowning in water. Was it a sort of curd like species, swimming in a pool of it’s own waste? Kinda. It was tofu. And how did I know this?
It was labeled ‘Tofu’, right there on the package.
It’s known as a bean curd. Curd is essentially a solid dairy that has formed from a process called coagulation. Remember the nursery rhyme that read ‘Little Miss Muffet, sat on her tuffet, eating her curds and whey?’
What that means is Lil Muffet sat on her mom’s footstool in the living room, and ate spoiled milk from the bottom of the milk carton. Ok, no. Not exactly.
Let’s simply break this down: A curd is what forms from milk when coagulation occurs. Coagulation is the process that occurs after combining dairy and an acidic substance. A curd is the result.
There’s an entire science behind this complex process. In fact, curdling is the first step in the process of cheese making. Just know that coagulation is intentional. We force it to occur, so the food is edible. If not, you’d be eating spoiled, chunky milk.
Sooooo, tofu is known as a ‘bean curd’ because it is essentially made from soy beans. One needs the milk from the bean (aka, soy milk) to start making tofu.
When I tried tofu for the first time, I liked it. It was firm, yet completely soft. I ate it with cottage cheese on the side, which was sprinkled with pepper. I learned years later that tofu cottage cheese was a common dish.
I believe the key to great ‘bean curd’ is making the outside firm. Marinating it allows the sides to firm up before cooking. This creates a kind of ‘barrier’ you’ll need when handling. Tofu is delicate, and will fall apart easily. It also retains water, which you’ll want to extract before cooking.
There are SO many different ways to prepare it. You can eat it raw, rawly marinated, cooked, or cookly marinated. Cookly is not a word. It was just fun to write.
When making tofu at home, I purchase the Nasoya Organic Extra Firm. This brand is labeled Gluten-Free. Refrain from buying it pre-marinated. Wheat is usually present in the product.
This crispy tofu was seasoned with balsamic vinegar in this photo. I then sautéed it in a cast iron skillet with mushrooms. Slightly charring moisture retaining foods is an obsession of mine!
There’s a caramelization that unfolds, and the browning is gorgeous. I just think the flavors become dramatically enhanced. As far as marinating? Use anything you want. Teriyaki marinades are great when eaten it with rice. Balsamic marinades are fantastic when paired with pastas or warm salads. It’s a free for all, really.
Once your tofu is free from excess water, try cutting it into chunks. Then, cook it over a splash of oil on a skillet. Turn the chunks as needed and take your time.
Heat your stovetop range anywhere from medium low to medium. Sprinkle on kosher salt and pepper. It may take twenty minutes until you find a crispy tofu that’s darkened. Once cooled, take a bite. The outside should be somewhat hard, and the inside will be softer.
I believe in knowing what a new food tastes like cooked, before adding other ingredients. It makes our taste buds come to life.
Have fun with this crispy tofu recipe! And let me know what you think in the comments below!
Crispy Tofu (Gluten-Free)
An easy intro to making gluten-free, crispy tofu.
- One block of tofu drained (I use Nasoya Organic Extra Firm)
- 8 Paper towels sheets durable
- 4 kitchen towels
- 1 tablespoon good olive oil
- Good balsamic Vinegar
- Kosher salt
- Ground pepper
- Carefully cut tofu block in half, length wise.
- Separate both halves.
- Over a baking sheet, spread a large folded kitchen towel.
- On top of towel, place a couple sheets of paper towel.
- On top of paper towel layers, place both tofu pieces side by side.
- Place two layers of paper towels sheets atop tofu pieces.
- Spread another large folded kitchen towel over paper towels.
- Place a large, heavy cutting board atop everything and slightly push down.
- Leave in place for about 30 minutes.
- After 30 minutes, repeat same process, substituting remaining towels.
- Wait another 30 minutes.
- Heat oil in a cast iron skillet on stovetop to medium heat.
- Carefully take off all layers and place tofu pieces on a clean plate.
- Cut tofu into 1 to 1 1/2 inch chunks.
- Carefully place tofu chunks in a large bowl.
- Pour a couple of thick splashes of balsamic vinegar all over tofu in bowl.
- Sprinkle a bit of salt and pepper all over tofu in bowl.
- Give bowl a good toss.
- When skillet is heated, pour tofu chunks into cast iron skillet.
- Sautee for about twenty minutes, or until surface is browned a crispy.
- Be sure to turn periodically.
- If it begins to burn, turn down the heat to medium low.
- When finished, plate and enjoy.
- **If marinating tofu after cutting lengthwise:
- Place in long glass tupperware and fill with marinade.
- Pieces should be submerged in marinade.
- **Close tupperware and refrigerate for 1 hour or more (I marinade for 24 hours).
Looking for more ‘How To’ Recipes? Try These:
*(This crispy tofu recipe has been updated from two years ago.)