I hear a lot of people say that they don’t like tofu, and I just don’t get it. To me, tofu is a chameleon food. It takes on the flavor of whatever you spice it with. (One of my favorite ways to use tofu is in lasagna in place of cheese—I mash it up with a fork and sprinkle in some dried oregano and basil.)

The key ingredient in this recipe is Chinese five spice powder. Different brands have different blends, but it always includes cinnamon, star anise and cloves. Some use fennel, some anise (which have very similar flavors). Some have white pepper…some have ginger. I just know it’s delicious and versatile, with so much depth of flavor.

I don’t usually measure this one—just pour or shake—so measurements below are approximate. If you’re comfortable with imprecision, it’s a much easier way to work. And I honestly think you can’t go wrong here.

I served this with warm sesame noodles—you can use my sesame sauce recipe here (or substitute peanut butter instead of tahini)—along with roasted broccoli spears (sprinkled with garlic powder and salt and a light spritz of olive oil spray, roasted in the oven with the tofu for about 10 minutes). I made the noodles and prepared the broccoli while I was pressing and marinating the tofu.

Ingredients:

1 block organic firm tofu
¼ cup soy sauce
1 teaspoon Chinese five spice powder
½ teaspoon garlic powder
¼ teaspoon powdered ginger (add only if your five spice blend doesn’t already include it)
1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil

Directions:

  1. Remove excess water from the block of tofu by sandwiching it between two plates and putting a modest weight (such as a can of tomatoes) on the top plate to provide sustained pressure. Let it sit about half an hour, periodically draining the runoff and making sure that the block compresses evenly.
  2. In a gallon-sized zipper bag, put in all of the other ingredients. Seal the bag and swirl around the mixture to combine ingredients.
  3. Preheat oven to 375˚F convection bake or 400˚F regular bake. (Yes, I wait to preheat the oven so that I don’t waste energy while the tofu is pressed.)
  4. Cut tofu into half-inch slices.
  5. Carefully open the bag (don’t spill!) and gently add the tofu (don’t break it!). Reseal, and gently rotate to cover the tofu with the marinade. Let sit about 10 minutes, rotating the bag periodically so that the marinade can soak in uniformly.
  6. Bake on a cookie sheet 10 minutes per side. (It’s easier to turn if you bake it on parchment paper.)