Easy ways to cook tofu – and two tips before you start

Here are some easy tofu recipes to get you started. More ideas can be found at www.bostonglobe.com/lifestyle/food-dining/recipes:

GLAZED TOFU: Adapted from Deborah Madison’s “This Can’t Be Tofu!”, In a bowl combine 2 tablespoons soy sauce, 1 tablespoon mirin (rice wine), 1 tablespoon hoisin sauce, 1 tablespoon rice vinegar, 1 minced garlic clove, 1 teaspoon sugar, 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil and a little ground red pepper. (You can also use about ½ cup Asian marinade if you prefer.) Pat dry 12 to 16 ounces firm or extra-firm tofu, cut into ½-inch-thick slices. In a large nonstick skillet, heat 2 tablespoons canola oil over medium heat. Add the tofu in a single layer (or cook in batches) and cook until the underside is browned, about 5 minutes. Turn the tofu over, reduce the heat and cook for 2 minutes. Carefully add the sauce (watch out, it will bubble wildly) and 2 finely chopped spring onions. Cook, turning tofu a few times to coat with sauce, 1 to 2 minutes or until sauce thickens and tofu is glossy. Serve with brown rice or noodles and/or cooked vegetables. (Note: you can fry tofu in the same way without adding sauce.) Serves 2 to 4 people.

TOFU AND ONION SCRAMBLE: In the very informative cookbook “Passionate Vegetarian” (2002), which has more than 1000 pages, author Crescent Dragonwagon gives many recipes for tofu. One of the simplest is Scrambled Tofu, which she says is “both like and not like scrambled eggs.” Here’s an easy tweak: In a nonstick skillet over medium heat, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Chop and cook 1 small onion until just golden brown, about 10 minutes. Add 10 ounces of firm tofu, crumbled into small clumps, and season with salt, pepper, ½ tsp turmeric, and ½ tsp sweet paprika. Increase heat to medium-high and cook, stirring often, for 3 minutes. Serve with hot sauce, soy sauce, kimchi, shredded cheese, or other tasty garnish. Serves 2.

TOMATO SAUCE WITH CRUMPED TOFU: Using 12 to 16 ounces of firm or extra-firm tofu, squeeze out the excess water and crumble the tofu into pieces. Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add 8 ounces of chopped mushrooms, sprinkle with salt and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, for 6 to 8 minutes or until liquid has evaporated from mushroom. Add the tofu and 1 teaspoon chili powder and cook, stirring often, for 10 minutes or until the tofu is lightly golden brown. Stir in 2 cloves of minced garlic and cook for 1 minute. Transfer the tofu mixture to a plate. Add 4 cups of your favorite tomato sauce to the skillet and simmer gently for 5 minutes. Add the tofu mixture to the sauce and simmer for a few minutes. Spoon over pasta, grains, or baked potatoes; add to chili; or use as a filling for stuffed peppers and pumpkin. For 4 persons.

TOFU BANH MI: A traditional Vietnamese banh mi (sandwich) consists of sliced ​​meat and/or pâté topped with pickled vegetables and coriander on a crispy baguette. To make two tofu banh mi: In a lightly oiled large nonstick skillet over medium heat, cook 8 to 10 ounces of tofu planks (sliced ​​½ inch thick). Cook for about 4 minutes per side or until nicely browned. Sprinkle the tofu with 2 tablespoons of soy sauce and 2 teaspoons of sugar. Turn the tofu over a few times to coat it and remove from heat. Spread spicy sriracha mayo on the cut sides of two 6-inch long pieces of (fresh or toasted) French bread. Add the tofu to the bottom halves and top with quick-pickled daikon radish and carrot matches, cucumber slices and a handful of fresh cilantro. Serves 2.

SPINACH SHALLION TOFU SPREAD: In a food processor, process 8 ounces of firm tofu (do not pat dry) and 1 small garlic clove until crumbly. Add 2 tablespoons olive oil, 1½ tablespoons lemon juice, chopped green parts of two scallions, 3 ounces cooked spinach (microwave baby spinach, covered with paper towel, on a large plate for 1 minute), ½ teaspoon kosher salt, and freshly ground black pepper; process until smooth. Taste for herbs. This is a nice spread for bagels or toast, topped with sliced ​​tomatoes, smoked salmon and/or microgreens. Makes about 2 cups.

BAKED TOFU: One way to get tofu brown and crispy is to use cornstarch in a simple marinade and then bake the tofu in a hot oven. Mix 1 tablespoon of soy sauce, 1 tablespoon of toasted sesame oil, ½ tablespoon of mirin and 1 tablespoon of cornflour in a baking dish. Add 1 block of firm or extra-firm tofu, cut into ½-inch thick planks or cubes, or break the tofu into coarse 1-inch pieces and add the marinade. Let stand for at least 30 minutes. Spread the tofu on a parchment-lined baking sheet and bake in a hot 425 degree oven for 25 to 30 minutes, flipping the pieces halfway through baking, or until browned and crispy. Serve over veggies and/or rice, add to a stir-fry, or toss in peanut sauce. For 4 persons.

BREADED TOFU: Marinate 6 planks (about 12 ounces) of firm tofu, sliced ​​½-inch thick, in 2 tablespoons soy sauce, 2 tablespoons mirin, and 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil for 30 minutes or more. Turn the tofu a few times in the marinade. Place about ½ cup of panko (breadcrumbs) on a plate. Press the tofu into the crumbs to completely coat both sides. In a large nonstick skillet, heat 2 tablespoons canola oil over medium heat. Cook the tofu for 2 to 3 minutes per side or until browned and crispy on the outside but still tender on the inside. For 2 to 3 people.

Lisa Zwirn can be reached at [email protected].

Lisa Zwirn can be reached at [email protected]