Our miso marinated tofu is a great way to introduce yourself to cooking this vegan protein. Salty, glazed tofu is pan-fried with fragrant garlic and onion and served with your choice of side.
Cooking tofu well doesn't have to be complicated. We've created this recipe for miso-glazed tofu as a super simple way for vegans and vegetarians to ensure they're getting ample protein in their diet.
Miso, a fermented soybean paste, is the central ingredient in our tofu marinade. Asian cultures use miso to add the important, but often missed, fifth flavor element, umami. Miso and tofu make a perfect pair, as the light taste of tofu balances the robust miso.
To make any tofu taste good, you need to choose the right tofu for the job and prepare it properly. We've built a short guide on tofu for you below so that you can quickly make a delicious pan of our hot miso-marinated tofu!
Choosing the right tofu
There are four basic types of tofu: silken, soft, firm, and extra-firm.
- Silken is soft and smooth, with the texture of yogurt. It's a popular replacement for milk and cream in all sorts of vegan dishes.
- Soft tofu is very delicate, but has a less smooth texture than silken varieties. It can be used interchangeably with silken as a dairy replacement.
- Firm tofu is pre-pressed into a block but still has medium water content. It's great for pan-frying, baking, and grilling. Once cooked, it has a soft, chewy texture with a crisp outside.
- Extra-firm tofu is similar to firm, except that it is even less-watery and denser. Extra-firm is also great for all cooking methods and develops a thicker, chewy texture with an even crispier outside.
We chose to work with extra-firm tofu for this recipe, as we like our miso-fried tofu to be higher in protein and super crispy on the outside. Extra-firm tofu absorbs the perfect amount of marinade without becoming soggy.
You can find extra-firm tofu at any regular or specialty grocery store. Health stores and Asian supermarkets may have a more comprehensive selection of options available.
You could use firm tofu for this recipe, but be sure to adjust your times - press the tofu longer and marinate it for a shorter time than our recipe suggests.
Tofu 101: How to work with tofu
Cooking with tofu is very simple, but it requires a different treatment than meat proteins.
Here's what you need to know when working with tofu:
Always press your tofu
Whenever you cook with firm or extra-firm tofu, press out the excess water before you begin. This vital step makes the difference between a delicious tofu dish and a watery mess.
The marinade is the primary flavor enhancer for tofu, so you want your tofu to absorb as much delicious marinade as possible. By removing the water, you've created space in the tofu block for your marinade to enter.
- Get a simple tofu press and place the tofu block in the press for 15 mins, then continue as usual.
- If you don't own a tofu press, you can wrap your tofu block in a dry towel and press between two heavy plates or cutting boards. This doesn't provide as much pressure, so leave the tofu pressing for longer - a minimum of 2-3 hrs.
Tofu can technically be eaten raw, so unlike meat, you don't need to worry about reaching a specific temperature for food safety.
Even though raw tofu is safe, its uncooked texture is pretty unappetizing.
Tofu is cooked when the outside is browned precisely to your liking. Whether you're baking, frying, or grilling, make sure all of the tofu gets cooked evenly - you don't want any of the sides to be raw.
- Usually, we cut tofu into small cubes and cook on each side for a few minutes before flipping.
- Don't stir your tofu cubes constantly as they cook, as you'll disturb the browning process. You want each side of the tofu cube to hit the pan long enough to crisp up.
How to make miso marinated tofu
- 1 12-oz package of extra-firm tofu
- ½ cup cooking onion, peeled and chopped
- 2 cloves of garlic, finely minced
- 2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil, divided
- 2 Tbsp white miso paste
- 2 Tbsp tamari
- 1 Tbsp rice vinegar or apple cider vinegar
Directions: Miso Tofu Marinade
- Remove the extra firm tofu from the package. Press in a tofu press for 15 mins to remove excess liquid.
- While the tofu is pressing, mix the chopped onion, minced garlic, and one Tbsp of olive oil in a medium-sized, shallow glass container.
- In a small-sized mixing bowl, whisk together the miso, tamari, and rice vinegar. Add to the chopped onion mixture and stir until thoroughly combined.
- Chop the tofu block into ½-inch cubes and place in the container with the miso marinade. Stir gently so that the miso marinade can properly marinate the tofu.
- Marinate tofu for at least 30 minutes, up to one hr.
- Pour the last 1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil into a skillet over medium to medium-high heat. Let the oil heat up for 1 min.
- Use silicone tongs to place tofu pieces in the skillet carefully. Fry to slightly brown each side of the tofu cubes, about 2-3 mins per side.
- Continue cooking and tossing the tofu until the color of the tofu deepens. Then, turn the stovetop's heat to low and add the remaining miso glaze. Cook for 1-2 mins until the onions are translucent and tender.
- Serve and enjoy your miso glazed fried tofu!
Miso Glazed Tofu Recipe FAQ
What is miso?
Miso is a fermented soybean and rice paste that, like all fermented foods, is excellent for maintaining gut health. It's salty and contains the much-desired umami flavor, which can add a complex element to almost any dish. It comes in more than 1,000 varieties of flavors and textures, with the most common being white, yellow, and red.
White miso, which we use in this recipe, has the shortest fermentation time and a sweeter resulting taste. We think it is just delicate enough to use simple, fried tofu compared to pungent, funky red varieties.
What to serve with fried miso tofu
You can pair this fried miso tofu with almost anything.
Try pairing your miso marinated tofu with:
- Steamed white or brown rice
- Steamed broccoli and bok choy
- Cauliflower rice
- On top of a bed of fresh green salad with bell peppers and cherry tomatoes
- In a wrap with veggies
- Over rice noodles splashed with soy sauce
This tofu makes excellent leftovers - store your tofu in a sealed, air-tight container for up to 5 days. It's very best when consumed within the first 1-2 days, as the tofu cubes continue to release some water as they sit.
We don't recommend freezing miso tofu, as the moisture content can make it soggy and crumbly when it thaws.
To reheat, warm in a skillet, microwave, or air fryer until thoroughly heated.
Final notes: Miso tofu stir fry
Miso marinated tofu can make an easy vegan main for lunch or dinner any day of the week.
Remember these tips when preparing your marinated tofu:
- Be sure to choose extra-firm or firm tofu when pan-frying;
- Always press your tofu for 15 mins before you marinate;
- Experiment with other types of miso - if you like strong umami, switch out the white miso for a red variety;
- This tofu will taste great with just about any side dish you choose.
We hope you enjoy this miso glazed tofu as much as we did!