Your relationship with those humdrum blocks of tofu is about to change, my friends.
[This post was originally published at thesoupsolution.ca in October of 2017. A much-loved recipe there and has been frequently requested since I closed that business and website in March 2019. A big thank you to everyone who has made and shared this recipe – it’s definitely a favourite and I’m thrilled to share an updated version here, at My Family Food Life.]
I had a somewhat spicy fling with tofu in the past, but my overall feelings about it were pretty “meh.”
Besides cutting the tofu into cubes and marinating it for a length of time – which never seemed to be worth the final flavour result – tofu wasn’t exactly at the top of my to-cook list.
Until a few months back, I ran across a method for how to make your tofu taste like pork. Skeptical but curious, I read on… aaaaaand then bookmarked it for another day. Just an FYI; if you ever need a mentor in procrastination, I’m your gal.
Well, “another day” happened to be one when I woke up feeling less than stellar. I pulled myself together enough to get the kids off to school and decided I was due for a sick day.
When I’m unwell, I don’t just crave soup, I crave spicy soup.
I remembered that interesting spicy crumbled tofu from before and called up the original post (thankfully tofu has a generous best-before date and I happened to have some hanging around in the fridge as one of those “good intention” purchases).
Too sick and tired to follow all the steps, I gleaned a coles notes version of the process and gave it go while waiting for my miso soup broth to reach its full germ-banishing potential.
Even after 10 minutes of cooking the tofu, I wasn’t convinced this crumbled mess of tofu would remotely resemble ground pork, but thankfully things turned around at about the 20-minute mark.
Yep. It takes time and a little more oil than you might think to achieve that dark, crumbly, crispy-yet-slightly-chewy taste and texture of well-cooked ground pork. The soy sauce and sesame oil add both umami taste and colour to help the tofu mimic meat, and the overall result was nothing short of genius.
At about the same time this culinary miracle was finished, so was my miso soup broth. A few ramen noodles and a well-placed egg later, I was face-down, shamelessly slurping away in my huge bowl of satisfyingly spicy, soul-lifting, virus-blasting comfort food.
Funnily enough, the next time I made and shared a photo of this tofu revelation – again intentionally served with my cheater miso ramen soup – it was in August. You’d think that posting something like this during the heat of summer would tame the response, but it didn’t, and I think that’s pretty amazing. Tofu that tastes like meat – amazing.
Crispy, Spicy Crumbled Tofu, aka "How To Make Tofu Taste Like Meat"
Say goodbye to boring tofu. This genius method of cooking tofu is heavily inspired by Bon Appetit and transforms a rather drab block of tofu into something remarkably resembling meat.
- 4 tbsp neutral oil such as grapeseed ((plus more, if needed))
- 350 g extra firm tofu ((organic or non-gmo))
- 3 tbsp low-sodium soy sauce
- 2 tbsp sesame oil
- 1 tbsp sambal oelek or gochujang ((use more or less to taste))
Prepare the block of tofu by wrapping in several layers of paper towels or clean kitchen
towels and squeeze to remove as much moisture as possible. Setting it on the counter and leaning with both hands on top of the block a few times works well. It will begin to crumble, which is perfect.
Meanwhile, heat the neutral oil over high heat in a non-stick skillet until shimmering. Add the crumbled tofu to the hot oil and stir immediately to coat the tofu in the oil, breaking up larger pieces with a wooden spoon. Now shake the pan to distribute the tofu and let fry without disturbing it for a couple of minutes to allow the tofu a chance to brown. If you feel like the pan is too dry, add a little more oil throughout the process. Keep frying and stirring occasionally until the tofu is darker in colour. When the crumbled tofu is well on its way to a deep golden colour, it should resemble cooked ground pork.
Add the soy sauce, sesame oil, and sambal oelek; stir-fry for a few more minutes until the tofu is well browned. Remove from heat and use immediately, or store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 1 week.