Tofu is one of the most misunderstood forms of vegetarian protein. Unless you're a well-seasoned vegetarian or vegan with some in-depth experience preparing and cooking tofu, you may turn your nose up at the thought of eating this soybean-based food.
A vegan diet is certainly something that is often surrounded by a lot of negative stereotyping. Vegan food isn't just "rabbit food" that won't fill you up. Tofu, beans, and nuts are all hearty, filling forms of protein that everyone can benefit from eating a bit more often. Vegan food usually delivers big on flavour by using fragrant herbs and savoury spices in each dish.
Silken tofu, soft tofu, firm tofu, and extra-firm tofu - they're all excellent forms of protein commonly found in vegan recipes. Tofu is more readily available than tempeh and other vegan proteins, making it convenient for vegans. All types of tofu can take on the flavour of the food that you cook with them.
The dishes you cook with tofu don't have to and should not taste bland. Marinating tofu is one incredibly simple way to infuse your tofu with a ton of flavour.
We've created this simple vegan marinated tofu recipe full of umami, the 5th flavour element often associated with soy and savoury tastes. By adding garlic, onion, ginger, and sesame, it's a flavour explosion on your tastebuds that's sure to please vegan and meat-eaters alike. We've paired this marinated tofu with basmati rice and chives, but this tofu goes well with most sides - the options are endless.
This recipe is incredibly quick to pull together. You need to press the tofu with a tofu press for 15-20 minutes and marinade it for 30 minutes, but the actual hands-on preparation time is under 15 minutes total. It's fantastic for dinner on those nights that you're running short on time or just aren't in the mood to cook.
Use this vegan tofu recipe to learn how to marinate tofu and play around to create some different flavours.
How to make vegan tofu marinade recipe
16oz (approx. 450g) extra-firm tofu
For the Marinade
- 2 Tbsp regular or light soy sauce
- 1 tsp onion powder
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1 tsp ginger, fresh or ground
- 1 Tbsp pure maple syrup
- 1 Tbsp sesame oil, plus extra for frying
- 1 Tbsp rice vinegar
- 1 Tbsp hoisin sauce
- 1 tsp cornstarch
- chives, finely chopped
- basmati or jasmine rice
- Press the vegan tofu for 15-20 minutes using a tofu press.
- Once the tofu is pressed and drained, cut it into 1-inch cubes.
- In a small bowl, mix all of your ingredients for the tofu marinade except the cornstarch. Pour the mixture over the tofu.
- Turn over the tofu cubes so that they marinate evenly on both sides. Place your tofu in the fridge and leave to marinate for 30 minutes.
- Heat a frying pan over medium heat and add the marinated tofu. Keep the remaining tofu marinade to use later. Fry the tofu until golden brown.
- Mix the leftover marinade with cornstarch. Pour the sauce over the tofu in the frying pan. Heat the sauce thoroughly until it thickens.
- Serve over basmati or jasmine rice. Garnish with freshly chopped chives.
- Serve and enjoy your vegan marinated tofu!
1 serving (¼ recipe)
Calories: 196; Sugar: 5g; Sodium: 616mg; Fat: 11.5g; Saturated Fat: 1.9g; Carbohydrates: 8.7g; Fiber: 0.4g; Protein: 14.7g
Marinated tofu FAQ
Is tofu vegan?
Yes! Tofu is a lean protein made of soybean curd, pressed into silken, soft, firm, or extra-firm blocks. Tofu is entirely suitable as a healthy protein as part of a vegan, vegetarian, or omnivorous diet.
Do I need to use extra-firm tofu?
You will get the best results using extra-firm for your marinated tofu recipe. You could likely get away with using firm tofu if you press your vegan tofu for a more extended period to remove the excess moisture and allow it to absorb the marinade.
Silken and soft tofu cannot be adequately pressed. They'll be too full of liquid to absorb the marinade, and will crumble and disintegrate with the high acid-content in the marinade.
Do I need to press the extra-firm tofu before I marinate?
Yes! Pressing is the secret to making the best-marinated tofu - you have to remove the water from the tofu for it to absorb your liquid and become thoroughly marinated naturally. The longer the tofu presses, the less soggy your marinated tofu will be in the end.
Using a tofu press is the easiest and fastest way to remove the moisture from your tofu - it takes about 15 minutes. If you don't have a tofu press, you can use two heavy plates or cutting boards, but you will need to leave the tofu pressing for at least 2-3 hours and up to 24 hours.
How long do you marinate tofu?
Our recipe has you marinating your tofu for 30 minutes to absorb all of the dish's flavours fully. You can marinate your tofu longer if you wish, but it's not necessary. If you do leave your marinated tofu for longer, make some extra sauce, as your tofu will end up absorbing more liquid.
That being said, you can make your tofu a day or two ahead of time and leave it to marinate in the fridge until you're ready to cook.
Can I make this recipe gluten-free?
This vegan recipe isn't naturally gluten-free but can be easily adjusted for dinner guests with food allergies. Use gluten-free soy sauce instead, and you're all set to go!
Can I add other ingredients to my marinade?
Tofu marinades are pretty flexible. You can add some cayenne or spices to kick up the heat in your marinated tofu or use Mediterranean herbs, red wine vinegar, and a lighter oil that would taste delicious on a vegan greek salad with olives, onion, tomatoes, and cucumber.
What else can I serve with this tofu?
This tofu would be great with rice noodles, spiralized cucumber or zucchini noodles, or on a bed of greens. Cauliflower rice is another excellent gluten-free and grain-free alternative.
Can I freeze this recipe?
This vegan tofu will keep well in the fridge for 4-5 days. You can freeze the tofu in its marinade before you fry. When you're ready to cook, thaw, prepare some extra sauce, and cook according to the instructions.
Can I bake the marinated tofu instead of frying?
Yes! You don't need to fry your tofu; this vegan recipe also doubles as a baked tofu marinade. Baked tofu will give you a slightly more dry and less crispy texture than frying, but both ways are delicious in their own right.
Bake your tofu on a lined baking sheet at 430° for 25 minutes, flipping halfway.
We hope you enjoy experimenting with this marinated tofu recipe and learning to feel comfortable preparing a vegan dish that anyone and everyone will enjoy. Feel free to share your experiences with tofu and your favourite way to enjoy the protein!