about me

    Emily Malone

    culinary arts grad. nutrition facts lover. vegetarian chef. marathon runner. country music maniac. failed dog trainer. barre fanatic. loving mama.

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    EmilyBMalone@gmail.com

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    A Look Back.



Crispy Blackened Tofu.

One of the questions I hear most often from readers is wondering how to get their “meat and potatoes” boyfriend/husband/dad/whoever to start eating a more plant-based diet.   This, my friends, is your answer.

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Inspired by a dish at one of my favorite restaurants, I thought it would be fun to try making my own.  The spice coating gets a delicious and rich crunch from being cooked on high heat, and the smokiness exactly what you crave at a backyard barbecue. 

Crispy Blackened Tofu

by Emily Malone

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 5 minutes

Ingredients (2 servings)

    For the Tofu
    • 1 block firm or extra-firm tofu (drained and pressed)
    • 2 tablespoons soy sauce or Bragg’s liquid aminos
    • 1 tablespoon sesame oil (or other cooking oil)

    For the Spice Blend

    • 2 teaspoons paprika
    • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
    • 1 teaspoon corn starch
    • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
    • 1 teaspoon onion powder
    • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
    • 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
    • 1/4 teaspoon thyme
    • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper

    Instructions

    Start by pressing a block of tofu to drain out the excess water.  While the tofu drains, go ahead and make your spice mix.

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    The mixture is spicy, but not over the top.  If you can’t handle any heat, scale back on the cayenne and black pepper.  The paprika adds amazing richness and flavor to the blend!

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    Add all spices to a shallow bowl, and stir to thoroughly combine.

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    Once the tofu has drained, slice the block into four even rectangles – once through the width, and then cutting in half through the top (did that make sense?).

    Place tofu in a shallow dish and add soy sauce or liquid aminos – it doesn’t need to be much. Just enough to let it soak into the bottom a bit. After a few minutes, flip each piece to coat the other side.

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    In a sauté pan, heat sesame oil (or other oil of your choice) over medium high heat – you want your pan to really get hot! I prefer to use my non-stick pans for this, but you can try it in stainless as well.

    Take each piece of tofu and press it into the spice blend, ensuring to coat the whole bottom in a thick crust of spice.

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    Flip it over and repeat on the other side.

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    Then carefully place each piece into the hot pan – it should sizzle and pop, and you’ll see immediate color forming around the base of the tofu.

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    Add all four pieces to the pan and continue to cook over medium high heat. After only a minute or two, the bottom should be pretty dark in color – flip to the other side!

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    Cook for another minute or two on the other side, until both are crispy and blackened to perfection.  Slice and serve on a bed of rice or quinoa with a side of roasted greens!

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    Honestly, at first glance I’m not even sure you could tell this is tofu.  Before it is sliced, it looks more like a slab of salmon!

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    I often hear from vegans or vegetarians who are in a food rut, eating the same things over and over again.  There are only so many ways to marinate and bake tofu slices.  Blackening and crisping really transforms the tofu into something unexpected and deliciously different. 

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    And I truly believe that even hard core meat-eaters will enjoy this dish.  It’s the perfect solution for a cookout or dinner party that may include a variety of different diets.  If you thought you hated tofu, promise me you will give it one more chance.

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    Enjoy!

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    115 Comments so far
    Leave a comment

    Angela @ Happy Fit Mama     at 10:14 am

    I actually thought this recipe was salmon at first glance! I’m slowly convincing my husband that tofu can be good. The texture of it is what turns him off. This might be something that he can handle. It sounds delicious and something that I’m going to try asap!

    [Reply]

    Melissa @ HerGreenLife     at 10:16 am

    You can also get a similar result by broiling marinated tofu in a toaster oven (or regular oven, but toaster oven heats up fast and is extra easy). I discovered this a couple of months ago, and we’ve been enjoying flavorful tofu in a variety of ways since then. I’ll have to try this spice mix in my marinade next time.

    http://hergreenlife.com/2012/03/07/broiled-tofu/

    [Reply]

    Jennifer (The Gourmetour)     at 10:30 am

    I’m always looking for new ways to prepare my tofu! This is a must try!

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    Katie @ Serenity in the Storm     at 10:44 am

    Looks great! Thanks! We’ve been in a bit of a rut of avoiding tofu–this looks good enough to get us out of it. :-)

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    Lisa     at 10:45 am

    I cannot wait to try this! I don’t have a meal planned for tonight, so this is perfect timing! Thanks!!

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    Sarah     at 10:47 am

    This looks AMAZING. I can’t wait to try it!

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    Leanne     at 10:49 am

    Perfect timing! Dinner was going to be your kale salad and tofu – my husband will love these flavors on the tofu. We are not vegetarians but love, love tofu! Thank you!

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    Katie @ Creature of Habit     at 10:50 am

    Trying this tonight!

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    Brooke     at 10:57 am

    The one thing my husband and I miss about eating meat is the taste of blackened seasoning! Thank you for this Emily, can’t wait to try it :)

    [Reply]

    Lisa     at 10:59 am

    We do blackened salmon or chicken fairly regularly. My boyfriend made his own blackening spice and has it in a jar already made for easier access.

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    Anna     at 11:08 am

    Where are your spice jars from? I love them!

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    Fran@ Broken Cookies Don't Count     at 11:10 am

    This sounds wonderful, Emily! I have a block of tofu in the fridge at the moment and I was wondering what I would do with it. I think I even have all the spices I need. Thanks!

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    Amber K     at 11:21 am

    My husband and I have been trying to have kids and I keep reading controversial things about men eating soy. I don’t want anything messing with his testosterone so I say better to cut it out than be sorry later. Which is a bummer because I think he’d actually love this!

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    Michelle@PeachyPalate     at 11:22 am

    Does the tofu cook through that quickly or does it remain nice and squidgy inside? Looks incredible (totally pinned!).I’m a HUGE tofu fan!

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    Robyn @ Blueberries and Oats     at 11:22 am

    Whoa. This tofu looks a-m-a-z-i-n-g! Seriously. I don’t own any of those spices yet (just moved) but I am going out and buying them just so I can try this!! Perhaps I’ll even persuade my boyfriend to try a bite.

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    Julie (A Case of the Runs)     at 11:26 am

    Wow, that looks really great! I should definitely make my tofu this way!

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    kerr     at 11:31 am

    I’ve never had much interest in tofu but I want to try this dish!

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    Anna @ On Anna's Plate     at 11:31 am

    I love tofu like this. Once I finally figured out how to cook tofu correctly, I fell in love with it– it’s one of those foods where preparation really DOES make a huge difference!!

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    Mai     at 11:38 am

    my stomach is grumbling!

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    Rebecca     at 11:41 am

    This looks delicious!!

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    Carrie     at 11:45 am

    Yum!! This definitely looks like something my husband (and me) would love!

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    Shannon Bell     at 11:48 am

    This looks great!

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    barefootgirl27     at 11:55 am

    thanks to your tutorial and my good friend Cecelia, you have both taught me to love tofu!

    I did buy the tofu express press & I swear I’ve saved more in paper towels then I’ve spent on the press. excellent investment!

    I can’t wait to try this recipe… I’m lucky that my husband is pretty adventurous with whatever I make, so this should be an all around winner! thanks!

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    Gina (Yogattude)     at 3:44 pm

    I’ve finally gotten over my fear of tofu:) This recipe looks great…adding it to my list!

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    Laura (Blogging Over Thyme)     at 4:11 pm

    So excited about this dish! I had never thought of preparing tofu like this with a blackening type spice, but it makes a lot of sense and seems like a great way to mix up my usual (too similar) ways of preparing it. Definitely going to try this!

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    Shay @ Whine Less, Breathe More     at 4:39 pm

    That looks amazing!

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    Jamie @ Don't Forget the Cinnamon     at 4:39 pm

    Love it! I have indeed been quite bored with marinated and baked tofu lately.

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    Kathleen Ojo @ Onward; Inward     at 5:11 pm

    I had tofu on the menu tonight so I gave this a try and OH MY GOSH it’s delicious! Officiall my new favorite way to prepare tofu. The key is definitely marinating it in the Bragg’s/sesame oil mix before hand, it really soaks in the flavor so you don’t get any of that bland tofu taste in your mouth. Great recipe, thank you!

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    Liz A     at 5:13 pm

    read this post a few hours ago, realized I had all the ingredients on hand, and made it for dinner (I had it with quinoa and some steamed veggies). the seasoning was EXCELLENT. nice job, Emily. this is one of my new favorites, for sure.

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    Alex @ Raw Recovery     at 5:14 pm

    I have been on a tofu kick lately. I’m excited to try this! I always have trouble getting a coating to stick so I’m hoping I’ll have good luck with this recipe. By the way, I just wanted to say thank you for being such an honest blogger. I always feel your writing is so down to earth and relatable and I get a good feeling reading your posts. I don’t know if this makes sense, it’s just nice to have other bloggers out there who write with kindness.

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    Lauren     at 5:16 pm

    This looks incredible Emily! I love blackened salmon but I’ve never attempted to cook it (well at least when I didn’t accidentally burn it) :)

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    Tamara     at 5:30 pm

    Hi Emily!

    Have you ever tried cooking tofu on the BBQ???

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    Christi     at 5:32 pm

    A total winner! Tried this one tonight and it was just perfect. Definitely a new staple. Thanks!

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    Jess     at 9:07 pm

    This looks amazing! I am not vegetarian, but I am getting bored with my usual lunch choices, so I have started mixing it up with some tofu! I made Mama Pea’s tofu dippers and loved them (but got some nasty comments in the lunchroom…) and this looks right up my alley and perfect for my second tofu experiment!

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    Kari @ bite-sized thoughts     at 3:37 am

    I’m already a tofu convert, but if I wasn’t, I would be now :)

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    Karlee     at 4:07 am

    i AM in a food rut, so thank you! i want to make this tonight!

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    Willow @ My Own Trail     at 7:31 am

    This looks wonderful! I love tofu, but my husband is iffy about it. I have never been able to make a tofu dish that he actually loves. He eats it, but it’s just not that exciting to him. We’re occasional meat eaters, and he loves a spicy, blackened chicken sandwich that we get from a local restaurant. I bet I could make him a sandwich at home using this instead of chicken. It might just be the first time he enjoys tofu.

    [Reply]

    eliza Reply:

    This would work perfectly for that!

    [Reply]

    Emily Malone Reply:

    Hope he likes it!

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    eliza     at 7:32 am

    My friend and I made this last night and it was really good and spicy! We left out the corn starch as I didnt have any. What does it do for the recipe??

    [Reply]

    Emily Malone Reply:

    It should just help hold the crust on the tofu. Glad you guys liked it!

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    Mia     at 8:01 am

    This recipe couldn’t have come at a better time! I was just staring at my block of tofu feeling uninspired after having done a few different ways of flavoring/marinating them in the past. Only things I don’t have though are onion powder and garlic powder – I only have fresh, but I might just grate the two things into the liquid marinade to flavor them that way.
    Thank you Emily, this recipe sounds amazing.

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    Amateur Mommy     at 11:22 am

    I’m actually the one that has tofu issues in my house. I like it as a scramble or to replace ricotta in italian dishes, but otherwise I have difficulty enjoying it. I’ll have to try this!

    How do you press your tofu? Do you have a tofu press or do you use a different method?

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    elizabeth Reply:

    Not sure how Emily presses her tofu, but I just place the slices between two sheet pans with a heavy cast iron pot on top. I’ve found the water presses out, no need for towels or paper towels.

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    Emily Malone Reply:

    I use a tofu press, but I used to press it between dish towels under heavy cookbooks!

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    Tiff @ Love Sweat and Beers     at 12:39 pm

    Yup, looks pretty good to me! I really need to get a tofu press. I usually just wrap mine in a dish towel and pile stuff on top. It looks ridiculous, but I guess it works pretty well in the mean time.

    [Reply]

    Emily Malone Reply:

    I used to do mine that way too! The press is just so much easier.

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    Alyssa @ Fit and Fun in Third     at 2:44 pm

    This looks amazing! I love tofu but rarely make it because my husband isn’t a fan. I hope that changes after this recipe! :)

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    elizabeth     at 3:56 pm

    Delicious! The spice mixture is right on, you always get the spices perfect, I also love the spice mix for your black bean burger. I used a cast iron skillet, but my tofu did not get especially crispy. I used arrowroot instead of cornstarch and less than a T of oil, do you think the arrowroot made a difference?

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    Emily Malone Reply:

    Was the cast-iron grooved on the bottom? That may have been part of the issue. Arrowroot should have been fine, but the oil was probably also part of it. Having the hot oil hit the tofu is part of how the crust forms under high heat!

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    Lindsay     at 4:33 pm

    Hi Emily! I’ve only just found your blog and I love it.

    I tried this recipe tonight for dinner in an attempt to woo my not-tofu-crazy bf. I have to say, it looks ans smells so good that I no longer care if he likes it – I’m over the moon! Thanks!

    [Reply]

    Emily Malone Reply:

    Welcome – glad you found me! And glad the tofu was a hit. :)

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    Emily @LivingLongfellow     at 5:20 pm

    I’ve tried to do this before with a different marinade, and every attempt has resulted in the tofu falling apart. Do you notice a taste difference or ‘fall apart’ difference between firm and extra firm?

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    Emily Malone Reply:

    Hmmm I used extra firm, but I really think firm (if pressed) would be okay. My guess is the heat was not high enough?

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    Shady     at 5:33 pm

    Holy crap! Was this good. Made it for dinner tonight and well, I ate both servings for dinner tonight. I’ll have to come up with another plan for lunch tomorrow.

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    Emily Malone Reply:

    Haha! We ate all of ours too. :)

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    Alyssa     at 5:43 pm

    I made this tonight for dinner with my parents (I’m the only vegetarian out of us!) but for sure meat eaters like this tofu, they said it was delicious!

    [Reply]

    Emily Malone Reply:

    Yay! Success! :)

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    Karlee     at 6:21 pm

    made this tonight and my boyfriend and i LOVED it! it was definitely one of my favorite tofu dishes, and it was really simple to put together. served it with quinoa and spinach. yum, thanks for the recipe!

    [Reply]

    Emily Malone Reply:

    Awesome – so glad to hear it! :)

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    maribel     at 10:02 pm

    cooked this up tonight it was yummy. i dint have cornstarch, onion powder, sub cayenne for pepper flakes and it was still yummy. I’ve been meaning to stock up on basic cooking ingredients.

    [Reply]

    Emily Malone Reply:

    Gad you liked it!!

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    Kat     at 8:42 am

    Love those spice jars & the rack set up you have. Recommendations on where to purchase? I need a better spice system stat. Thanks!

    [Reply]

    Emily Malone Reply:

    Ikea!

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    Cacmuffin     at 2:48 pm

    This sounds soon good I can’t wait to try it out!!!! I usually just bake it but this looks tasty and pretty easy

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    Sara Nickel     at 3:58 pm

    I love your spice jars! Where did you get them? I can never get my husband to eat tofu. I tried once in my beginning culinary adventures, but would like to try again. Maybe this will do. Thank you for the recipe:)

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    bitt     at 5:04 pm

    I have a frustration with recipage. I am not sure you are the one operating it right now but not sure where else to go with it.

    I was searching on a blog for a recipe that I had remembered the author posting, just wasn’t sure how to find it. this is the second blog this has happened on. i was looking for an almond butter dressing that i remembered. i searched “dressings”, i searched “sauces”, and I searched “almond butter” but it was not found. i finally gave up on the recipage tool. i just searched google for the blog name and “almond butter” and “salad” and there it was! I am not sure why recipage can’t seem to find things when i know of the exact recipe i want but don’t know when you posted it or can’t get it another way through the archives. i can honestly say i haven’t had a successful experience yet with recipage, probably because I am always trying to find a specific recipe that doesn’t come up, versus just browsing for ideas. hope you can fix this for us!

    [Reply]

    Emily Malone Reply:

    Hi Bitt! Can you tell me exactly what recipe you were searching for so I can see what happens? The search function searches the recipe name, the keyword, AND the ingredients, so it depends on what the blogger has put directly into those fields (obviously that part is out of our control). Send me a link and I’ll be happy to look into it!

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    Greg     at 5:11 pm

    Loved the spice combination, although I omitted the onion powder. Thanks for creating a fabulous tofu recipe.

    [Reply]

    Emily Malone Reply:

    You are most welcome! :)

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    Amanda     at 9:26 pm

    Omg I made this…. It’s awesome! Another winning recipe by you!!! Why doesn’t this girl have a cookbook out yet?!

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    Ali     at 8:05 am

    I made this, and it was delicious! I immediately called my mom and asked if she had cooked dinner because she needed to make this dish ASAP. Thanks for another lovely recipe!

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    Kelly     at 2:12 pm

    I made this for supper. It was my first time cooking tofu at home. It was great! Thanks for posting.

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    Justeen @ Blissful Baking     at 5:32 pm

    I was so impressed with how this tofu turned out! The blackened spice mixture is fantastic!

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    Miranda     at 12:32 pm

    Neither my husband or I are vegetarians, but we both LOVED this recipe! I had been wanting to make tofu, but I had no idea what I wanted to do. This was perfect – quick, easy, and with ingredients I already had! Thanks!

    [Reply]

    Emily Malone Reply:

    Awesome – so glad to hear it!

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    Leslie     at 6:45 pm

    I made this for dinner tonight and it was fantastic, what a delicious spice combo. I loved how quickly the recipe came together once the tofu was pressed. My non veg husband took a bite and proceeded to tell me it tasted like chicken! I think you are right about this being a recipe even meat eaters will enjoy. I think the leftovers I managed not to eat are going to make a great sandwich filling. Thanks!!

    [Reply]

    Emily Malone Reply:

    Awesome! So glad it was a hit!

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    Becca @ Amuse Your Bouche     at 12:38 pm

    Hi Emily! Thought you might be interested to know that I was so inspired by this dish that I gave it a go myself, and it was fantastic! :) I blogged about it here if you’re interested:http://amuse-your-bouche.blogspot.co.uk/2012/04/crispy-blackened-tofu.html

    Thanks for the inspiration! :)

    [Reply]

    Emily Malone Reply:

    Awesome! Thanks Becca!

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    Bri     at 4:48 pm

    I made the for dinner tonight! It was sooo good, but now my roommates are stealing all the leftovers! Thanks for sharing!

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    Andrea     at 4:11 pm

    This is my first time making and eating tofu, and I have to say, this recipe is great!! So flavorful and delicious! I’m eating it as I type :) Thanks for sharing Emily!

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    Peta     at 7:02 pm

    Hi Emily – love the blog – both recipes and family posts – thanks. I’m just wondering, do you recommend smoked paprika or sweet or normal paprika here?

    [Reply]

    Emily Malone Reply:

    I have made it with both, and I personally liked the smoked better. :)

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    Jessica     at 5:55 am

    I made this today and it.was.divine. This will be a frequent in my house, for sure! Thanks for another great recipe!

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    Dan Helfgott     at 7:00 am

    Emily, I made the blackened tofu as a quick dish for myself last night and it was delicious. I did dribble some liquid smoke to the soy sauce, which added a nice flavor.

    One pressing question though: after searing the tofu and blackening the spices, the inside seemed to be *less* cooked than normally, as if the moisture were trapped inside. Think texture of over-cooked scrambled eggs. Trapping the moisture is, of course, what you want with normal blackening, but do you have any advice if I wanted the tofu firmer?

    Also, tofu press???

    [Reply]

    Emily Malone Reply:

    Liquid smoke – yum! You might not have pressed it long enough. But this is a really quick cook, so the inside IS going to be more raw than traditional pan-fried tofu. If you make tofu once a week or more, you NEED one of these: http://tofuxpress.com/

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    Stephanie B.     at 3:57 pm

    Turned out perfectly! Very good seasoning mix. It’s not going to sell many meat eaters though, it still has that wonderful tofu texture that my husband dislikes :)

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    Jenna     at 8:35 pm

    Made this for dinner! Loooved it & such a nice change from my usual tofu cooking methods & seasonings! Will for sure be making this again.

    [Reply]

    Emily Malone Reply:

    Glad you liked it!!

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    NCSue     at 4:08 am

    GOSH that looks good! Would you allow me to post that recipe on my blog along with a H/T to you?

    Thanks!

    NCSue

    [Reply]

    Nana     at 2:54 am

    That looks really good, cant wait to try

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    Red Head, Yellow Dog     at 7:33 pm

    Made this tonight and I loved it! So did my non-veg boyfriend! (although he did suggest that the spices would also be good on shrimp:) ) I had to sub out paprika for chili powder and didn’t have onion powder and it was still so good. Can’t wait to try it after I get some paprika :) Thanks, Emily!

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    Stefanie     at 6:10 pm

    I finally tried this recipe and dare I say it– it was life changing! It was so crispy and delicious, I wanted to make it again as soon as dinner was done. This will absolutely make it into my weekly dinner rotation. It was quick and absolutely delicious. THank you for the recipe!!!

    [Reply]

    Emily Malone Reply:

    I agree – we make it ALL the time! So glad you liked it!

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    Gisela     at 1:26 pm

    I’ve been reading through your (AMAZING) website for a while, and just made this recipe. I have to say that it is EPIC!!!!! Soooooo good! Can’t wait to try some of your other recipes. Thank you! Love, love, love this site!

    ~ Gisela

    [Reply]

    Emily Malone Reply:

    So glad you liked it! :)

    [Reply]

    Karen     at 6:16 pm

    I could eat this every day!

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    Bonnie     at 8:16 am

    I shared this with many ppl on FB. Link always included. Sure hope you don’t mind.

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    Julie (A Case of the Runs)     at 12:20 pm

    I made this last night, and it’s pretty tasty! Eating it right now. Mine came out a little salty, though, so I will leave out the salt next time. I followed the recipe exactly.

    [Reply]

    Ingunn     at 11:36 am

    I made this and it came out AMAZING. It is officially on our recipe rotation!

    [Reply]

    Crispy Blackened Tofu | hippie itch     at 5:46 pm

    [...] Crispy Blackened Tofu (source) [...]

    What I’m Loving This Year | Hummusapien     at 12:35 pm

    [...] celebrated my extra firm tofu by making Emily’s crispy blackened tofu and let me tell you, it was terrific.  The crispy crust was out of this world and I savored every [...]

    Jennifer     at 11:34 am

    Would I be able to omit the corn starch? I currently don’t have any, and not sure if they sell it here in bulk. At my local food co-op they sell blackened tofu, it’s expensive, so I’ve been wanting to make it myself!

    [Reply]

    My Favorite Go-To Recipes - Hummusapien | Hummusapien     at 7:34 pm

    [...] Blackened Tofu [...]

    Megan     at 6:45 pm

    This recipe is ABSOLUTELY AMAZING. I’m not the cook in our family, but with my fiance in school, I’ve had to roll up my sleeves and dive in. Not only is this recipe extremely easy, but its delicious and has become a weekly staple in our house. Thanks for helping gain my cooking sea legs :)

    [Reply]

    Rob Moore     at 8:27 am

    Tofu has always just been okay. We’ve made this twice now. Love it! The wife says it’s one of her favorites. We paired it with a spinach salad using Trader Joe’s Sesame Soy Ginger Vinaigrette. The sweet and heat are really nice together. Thanks for the great recipes.

    [Reply]

    Crispy blackened tofu | Amuse Your Bouche     at 10:31 am

    [...] really remember why it used to intimdate me – it’s so easy to cook. When I saw this recipe on The Daily Garnish, I knew I had to make [...]

    Adam     at 10:36 am

    Fantastic. Though, your bbq comment got me thinking… So, I added a little brown sugar, cumin and tomato powder to make a kind of bbq crust. Served it with a cabbage/carrot lime/cilantro slaw and finished it off with berry cobbler. I live in NYC now, but lived in TX for many years. Please don’t tell them I’m making vegetarian bbq. I could get hanged!

    [Reply]

    Lou     at 10:41 am

    omg, this looks fantastic. my only problem is the last time I made tofu, I ended up eating the whole block! it’s still better than eating a pound of french fries, but I hate being such a glutton! mmmmm… thanks for this gorgeous recipe.

    [Reply]

    Chris     at 7:21 am

    Hi, this was a big hit for dinner last night. It was spicier than I usually make things, but that went really nicely with the simplicity (trying to think of another word for blandness) of the tofu itself. I used flour instead of corn starch, which seemed to work OK, and I used olive oil rather than sesame oil, which I chose so that it could really take the dish in a different direction from the Asian flavors I usually cook it with.

    I served it over couscous with a side of sauteed broccoli. I’ve been cooking tofu for years, so this was a really refreshing change. Thanks!

    [Reply]

    Claire     at 4:12 pm

    This was absolutely one of the BEST tofu recipes I have ever used!!!! The taste is phenomenal and it is soooo easy to make….thank you!

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