Caregiving from my kitchen

Chipotle Tofu

Prepare your own firm Chipotle Tofu, ready to slice and use instead of commercial baked tofu.

Prepare your own firm Chipotle Tofu, ready to slice and use instead of commercial baked tofu.

Recently I reviewed some old posts, and realized that, while I have a tag for both Soy and Tofu (which I will combine, now) I have actually written very little about soyfoods.

Partly, for various reasons I ate a lot of soy for several years – and when those reasons were no longer a factor I really wanted something else… Also, I discovered that the tempeh we bought uses wheat – I should really hunt up another source that is gluten free (many are.)  Mostly, though, tofu cooks so quickly that, like fish fillets, I tend to cook it when I don’t have time to fuss around with pictures and note taking, so it is under represented even in the WIAW posts. (I need to get on that, for both tofu and fish!)

Prepare your own firm Chipotle Tofu, ready to slice and use instead of commercial baked tofu.

But a very old post reminded me that I used to season tofu and cook it until firm, and then use it in salad or a rice bowl. And somehow I slid out of doing that all together… but I liked it and found it a useful method.

Usually I baked it – the easiest method, and the one that works best of you want to cook a couple of packages. I did that when I was working out of the house six days a week, and carrying my lunch. But, well… I need to remember how I did that! And more to the point right now, we’ve had a September heat wave, and I had no intention of lighting the oven. And I did remember the skillet method, which calls for a little more fuss, but no oven.

I use a firm tofu for this, the kind that comes in the plastic tub in most grocery stores these days. (Frequently in the Produce section, for some strange reason…) The first step is optional, in this recipe, but I think it helps the texture. See, tofu is stored in water to keep fresh, and it holds much of that water. When I started cooking it, all the directions I saw told you to put weights on it, and set it at a slant to drain, and they had these pencil sketches (yes, that’s how they used to illustrate cookbooks…) of arrangements with two cutting boards and a few tin cans. And it looked like a major hassle, and I never bothered. But tofu picks up a little more flavor from the seasoning if you drain it, and it is firmer, which I prefer.

Prepare your own firm Chipotle Tofu, ready to slice and use instead of commercial baked tofu.

Then I saw this technique – and I wish I remembered where, to give credit… Slice the tofu and wrap it in a towel. I usually use a clean dishtowel, but paper towels will do. Then just leave it anything from five minutes (bare minimum) to half an hour. I usually try for the half hour. But really, on an everyday basis? If I cook brown rice, I set them up at the same time – that gives me the time. If not, I go in the kitchen, wrap the tofu and put it on the drainboard. Then I chop and saute onions, wash and trim vegetables, take care of meat if I’m using it, get the seasoning or sauce ready – and by the time I’m ready to add the tofu, it’s close enough.

So anyhow, after draining it, you simmer it in flavorful liquid until all the liquid is absorbed and it firms up. You can use broth, when I did this purely to use in salad I’d use water, herbs, and a splash of vinegar. This time I decided to use water with a little chipotle puree to add a little bite (and because the color is clear in the pictures. Chicken broth is not always so obvious…)

Directions

Slice your tofu into four slabs, wrap it in a towel, and leave it up to half an hour to dry. You can weight it if you want, but it is not necessary.

I have mentioned before that I take a can of chipotle in adobo, puree the whole thing, keep it in the fridge, and use it by the spoonful. That makes it easier to use, it means I can easily add just a touch when I am cooking a small amount of something, and it’s a great way to add that bit of smoky spice to any recipe. So for this, take a tablespoon of that puree and mix it into a half cup of water in a fry pan. I suggest using either a good quality nonstick or an enameled cast iron, as you are going to cook all the liquid away, and it’s less apt to stick in those pans.

Prepare your own firm Chipotle Tofu, ready to slice and use instead of commercial baked tofu.

Put your liquid in the pan, add the slabs of tofu, turn the tofu over to coat. Now bring the liquid to a boil, and then lower to a simmer.

I find I get the best results if I turn the pieces over roughly every five minutes. It seems to distribute the flavor more evenly, and also makes sure I pay attention, as the liquid cooks away. This is the fussy part – after ten to fifteen minutes the liquid has cooked away. Now you need to drive out the water that has soaked into the tofu, without burning anything… so keep the heat very low, and check it frequently. I find that each time I turn it, I get more of the seasoning actually onto the tofu, instead of the pan. And you will notice that it starts to look and feel like the baked tofu in the stores. All together, I find it usually takes between half an hour and forty minutes – depending on your stove, your pan, and how much water the tofu absorbed along with the seasoning in the first step. After the last turn, remove it from heat, and let it sit in the pan. (Obviously this all is easiest at a time you’re in the kitchen anyway – cleaning up, chopping vegetables, cooking polenta…)

And now you have a nice, firm, well flavored tofu that slices well and has a somewhat “meaty” texture. You can use it right way in a grain bowl, or drop into soup just as you serve it, or, as I did, let it cool and put it in salad. Keep some on hand as another pre-cooked protein food for quick meals!

Prepare your own firm Chipotle Tofu, ready to slice and use instead of commercial baked tofu.

Chipotle Tofu

Prepare your own firm Chipotle Tofu, ready to slice and use instead of commercial baked tofu.

30 minPrep Time

30 minCook Time

1 hrTotal Time

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Recipe Image

Ingredients

  • 1 package firm or extra firm tofu (usually 14-16 oz.
  • 1 T pureed chipotle in adobo
  • 1/2 c water

Instructions

  1. Slice the block of tofu into four slabs. Wrap in a towel and let rest, so the towel absorbs moisture, 10 - 30 minutes.
  2. Mix chipotle into water, put in frying pan. Add the slabs of drained tofu. Turn over to coat with the seasoned liquid.
  3. Simmer gently, turning roughly every five minutes, until all the liquid has evaporated, and the tofu itself becomes firm. This will take about 30 - 40 minutes.

Notes

Slice and use in grain bowls, salad, soup, or serve as is.

7.8.1.2
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https://www.inhabitedkitchen.com/chipotle-tofu/

 

Prepare your own firm Chipotle Tofu, ready to slice and use instead of commercial baked tofu.

 

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