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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