I know, I know…you think I’m crazy for trying to get you to make tofu. Here’s the deal: tofu is inexpensive (less than $2.00), easy to make and full of protein. I’m just trying to be an advocate for your cheap dinners, healthier eating and adventures trying something new in the kitchen! When I used to think of tofu, I thought of weird cardboard tasting squishy cubes that only really intense vegetarians ate. In an effort to be more budget-friendy and adventurous in the kitchen, I’ve tried baking it, crumbling it, pan searing it, marinating it, all of the above.
I am beyond excited because I found my favorite way of making tofu taste flavorful and crispy. All you have to do is marinade it in a soy dressing, toss it with cornstarch and then pan sear it in a little bit of oil so it has a crispy bite. I have been trying to brainstorm all the ways I can convince you to eat tofu, so today I’m going all in. Pair the crispy tofu and quinoa with any combination of pineapple, radish, kale, quinoa, carrots and cucumbers to make this gorgeous Teriyaki Pineapple Bowl. If that sounds like too much, add it to your favorite stir fry veggies. If you’ve ever thought of remotely even trying tofu, I believe you not only should, but have to make it at home! Let’s do it.
1) Tofu is like a sponge.
Number one thing to know: tofu will absorb the flavors of anything you give it. Once you open the package and drain the liquid, put the block on a plate so we can stack some heavy things on top to press out even more liquid. Below I used my hand for scale so you could see how big it usually is. I stacked another plate and my heavy jug of olive oil on it for 20 minutes or so. After some extra liquid has come out, I’ll drain it and give the tofu a little dry off.
2) Cut and marinate.
Once the extra liquid from the tofu is removed, I cut the block into cubes. Toss all the cubes in a plastic bag or container and pour your favorite teriyaki sauce over it. About a 1/2 cup or so, enough to make sure each cube gets covered and has enough to absorb. We’re going to toss this into the fridge for at least 30 minutes, or overnight.
3) Make the crispy happen.
After the tofu has marinated, dry the cubes off between paper towels. The key to the crispy edges is drying the excess moisture and then tossing the cubes in corn starch. Pour a couple of tablespoons to about 1/4 cup of corn starch over the dried tofu on a plate and toss to coat. The corn starch will look like it’s disappearing, but you will be able to feel the tofu getting a little sticky. That’s perfect.
4) Let’s see those golden colors.
In a nonstick or cast iron skillet, heat a couple of tablespoons of oil over medium heat. Place the tofu into the skill laying flat on one edge. Let the tofu sit for a couple of minutes until a gorgeous golden brown color appears. Be patient! Don’t move the tofu around! Let it do its thing and brown. Once one side has a good golden brown color, turn the tofu to another side.
5) A little burnt is okay!
Here’s the deal, the sugars in the teriyaki sauce are going to turn some of the brown edges pretty dark. It may feel like you burnt the tofu, but that caramelization is delicious. Continue to brown the tofu for as long as your patience will allow. While the tofu is browning, prepare the other ingredients for your bowl: chop pineapple, cucumbers, carrots, etc. I couldn’t wait for each side to caramelize and I was happy with some variation in color, so I took my tofu off a when most of the sides were golden brown.
6) Create your Teriyaki Pineapple Bowl bowl.
I sauteed a little bit of kale to soften it up, added a scoop of quinoa, colorful fresh veggies, and a drizzle of the Island Soyaki sauce I adore from Trader Joe’s. A squeeze of fresh lime juice and chopped fresh cilantro took the bowl to the next level. This felt like something I would pay serious money for at a trendy restaurant…right?!
The flavors of this bowl are incredible. The tofu shines with it’s pineapple teriyaki marinade, but is complimented by the sweet fresh pineapple alongside it. The textures were so good, too. Crispy, crunchy, fresh. By no means do you need to add this many toppings (use whatever you have in your fridge), but it sure did make a beautiful combination. Looking close up at the tofu, you can see how the corn starch helps give this amazing crust on every single little cube!
- 1 block extra firm tofu
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 3 tablespoons corn starch
- ¼ cup pineapple teriyaki sauce, plus extra for topping each bowl
- 1 cup cooked quinoa
- 6 cups kale
- ½ cup diced pineapple
- 1 sliced cucumber
- ½ cup shredded carrots
- ½ cup thinly sliced radishes
- Chopped cilantro, for garnsih
- 1 lime
- Drain tofu from package and place on a plate. Weigh tofu block down with heavy items to release more liquid for about 20 minutes.
- Once tofu is pressed, dry the block off and cut into small ½" cubes.
- Place tofu cubes in a plastic bag and marinate with ¼-1/2 cup of pineapple teriyaki marinade for at least 30 minutes or overnight.
- Once tofu is marinaded, dry the cubes off on a plate with a paper towel.
- Sprinkle corn starch over tofu cubes and toss until distributed. If it looks like all the cubes are not covered, add more corn starch until covered. Tofu will feel sticky.
- Warm about 2 tablespoons of oil over medium high heat In a non stick skillet. Once oil is heated, add tofu in one layer. Let sit for 3-5 minutes or until golden brown crust appears.
- Rotate tofu pieces so another side cooks. Continue and stir until most of tofu cubes are golden brown and crispy.
- While tofu is cooking, sauté kale in a skillet to wilt if preferred.
- Prep all toppings in 2 large bowls. Divide quinoa, kale, pineapple, cucumber, radishes and carrots. Add cooked tofu to eat bowl. Drizzle with extra pineapple teriyaki sauce, garnish with chopped cilantro and squeeze fresh lime juice on top.
What do you think? Have I convinced you to at least start considering trying tofu? I think I’ll circle back with a little nudge again in few weeks. The reason I really want everyone to give it a shot is because I feel like tofu has such a stigma. Once you try this delicious combo, I think you’ll be #TEAMTOFU and happy to have a healthy, inexpensive alternative to chicken or beef. Let me know what you think!
Love food. Love self. Love life.