As a vegetarian and a dancer, one of my biggest dietary struggles is getting enough protein. I’m not someone who naturally gravitates toward foods with a high protein content, so it’s definitely something I have to actively think about, or it easily falls by the wayside. So for this recipe, I turned to the classic, old school, original vegetarian protein- tofu! Though many meat eaters are put off by this squishy, bloodless foe, I confess I’ve never had a problem with the texture. In an attempt to make it less threatening, many recipes call for making tofu crisp on the outside with a chewy interior, so I decided to keep the crispiness without sacrificing a moist and tender interior.
In this delectable preparation, small, soft morsels of tofu are soaked in rich coconut milk, subtly flavored by ginger and cardamom, rolled in flaked coconut, and then lightly baked to perfection. The result is a delicately flavorful dish with an irresistibly soft and slightly toothsome texture. It’s my new go-to for an easy week of lunches or dinners, and I’m sure once you try it, it’ll be yours too.
Note: I know this seems like a labor intensive and time consuming recipe, but most of the prep time is just waiting while the tofu is being pressed and marinated, so it makes a great weekend activity if you want something you can do while accomplishing other things at home, like laundry, homework, etc.
Baked Coconut Tofu
Prep: 2 hours and 10 minutes
Bake: 40 minutes
Total time: 2 hours and 50 minutes
- 1 14 oz package super or extra firm tofu
- 1/3 cup light coconut milk
- 1 large egg
- 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/8 teaspoon ground cardamom
- 3/4 cup unsweetened coconut flake
Drain and press the tofu. Carefully remove the block of tofu from its packaging. Place it on top of a doubled paper towel on top of a plate and wrap the paper towel around the tofu. Take another paper towel, fold it in half, and place that on top of the tofu block. Then, take a second plate, turn it upside down, and put that on top of the paper towel. Place your can of coconut milk on top of the second plate. Your contraption should look kind of like a burger, with the paper towel-lined plates as the bread, and the block of tofu as the patty (lol at the meat analogy in a tofu recipe).
As the paper towels soak up the liquid, replace them with new ones (this time varies, so check them about every 15-25 minutes). Leave this setup, switching out paper towels periodically, for 1 hour.
While it’s sitting, prepare the marinade. In a bowl, mix together the coconut milk, egg, and spices and pour into a large shallow dish. Transfer it to the fridge until the tofu is done.
Once the tofu has been pressed, use a sharp knife to slice it cleanly into ten equal(ish) pieces. Lay the pieces in the dish and marinate in the fridge for 30 minutes. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Remove the dish from the fridge, flip the pieces over, and return to the fridge for 30 more minutes. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Once the tofu is done marinating, remove it from the fridge and place the dish on the counter. Spread the coconut flake on a large plate and position it between the dish with the tofu and the parchment lined baking sheet, creating a sort of assembly line.
Pick up the first piece of tofu and roll it gently in the shredded coconut, coating all sides evenly, and place it on the baking sheet. Repeat this process until all of the pieces have been covered and placed on the sheet.
Bake the tofu pieces for 40 minutes, flipping them over and rotating the baking sheet halfway through. They are done when lightly browned or golden on both sides and tender through the middle. Cool and serve, or store in the fridge in an airtight container for up to five or six days (if it lasts that long). Enjoy!