Sesame-Marinated Tofu

This is a really basic but delicious recipe for preparing tofu. For the seasoned vegan veterans there’s probably nothing special here, but it’s a great introduction to tofu if you haven’t yet accustomed yourself to its unique and infinitely malleable taste. Here’s what tofu prepared this way looks like, when fried and served together with stir-fried morning glory:


The secret of this recipe, well, there’s no secret really: like pretty much always with marinades, the longer you marinate, the better the result. (I guess there’s an upper time limit somewhere, but trust me, you will eat the tofu before that.) A good rule of thumb is that the less time you have to marinate, the more thoroughly it makes sense to dry and press the tofu first.

This marinade is adapted from a recipe at Epicurious, but it’s a classic Chinese combination of garlic, soy sauce and sesame seed oil:

  • 500 g tofu
  • 1 dl soy sauce (or less, if the sauce is very salty)
  • 2 tablespoons sesame seed oil
  • 3 teaspoons grated ginger
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1 green chili pepper (or dried chili or Sambal Oelek, for example)
  • 3 tablespoons canola oil
  • 3 teaspoons raw cane sugar
  • 1-2 teaspoons of lime juice

First, I drain and press the tofu. I usually do it like this: I cut the tofu into slices 1-2 cm thick, then wrap a kitchen towel between the slices, and then put a weight on top of the slices, or press them with my hands. I specifically take care not to use too much strength, so that the texture of the tofu stays intact. Once the towel is wet, I replace it, and repeat the procedure a couple of times. This dramatically improves the ability of tofu to absorb tastes, so I almost always do this, unless I’m super hungry or in a hurry.

The next step is to cut the tofu into pleasing shapes. I usually end up with tofu cubes, but you don’t have to be so boring. Now, I place the tofu in a container with a tightly sealable lid.

Next I just cut, grate or crush the ginger, garlic and chili into tiny pieces, and combine them with the rest of the ingredients. I pour the marinade over the tofu, close the container, and shake it thoroughly. Then, I place it in the refrigerator, ideally overnight, but at least for a couple of hours, shaking it every now and then.

Tofu prepared this way is great for grilling or frying. We’ve used it in grilled kabobs, spreading the rest of the marinade on the vegetables before barbecuing, or in stir-fries. In the photo above the tofu was just fried in a pan, on high heat, until browned.