Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Mashed Tofu Cutlets

I was quite pleased with how this technique turned out: thoroughly well seasoned tofu with a very firm crispy texture. I’m looking forward to trying the same basic idea with different flavorings and sauces (perhaps a curry version next). I think it would work well as a substitute in many recipes that originally called for pounded or butterflied meat.

This technique is a really effective alternative to pressing and marinating slabs of tofu. You can squeeze out a lot more liquid with a lot less effort from mashed tofu than from whole slabs (which have to be handled with some care to avoid breakage), and therefore achieve a really good firm texture without much time or fuss.  Also, mashing allows you to mix your seasoning throughout the tofu, instead of the millimeter or so at the surface that you get with marinating. And since the flavorings don’t need to soak in via a liquid marinade but are mixed in directly, you’re not sogging up the tofu by adding back the liquid you took such pains to extract.

Which is not to say that I never marinate tofu—it’s a useful technique in some contexts. Bite size pieces of tofu marinated in garlic, lemon juice, olive oil and dried herbs can be quite good on pizza as a protein source/cheese substitute, for example.  I like having this technique as an alternative, though. I’m looking forward to experimenting with it.

Crispy mashed tofu cutlet

Mashed Tofu Cutlets

2 15 oz pkgs extra firm tofu
2 tsp minced garlic
1 tsp soy sauce
½ tsp garlic powder
½ tsp onion powder
½ salt (more if you want)
½ tsp dill weed
1 ½ tsp Italian herb seasoning
½ tsp lemon pepper seasoning
cooking spray

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.  Line two cookie sheets with foil and spray with cooking spray.

pressing tofu in colander

Mash tofu thoroughly. Place mashed tofu in a colander over a bowl, and press firmly with a smaller bowl to extrude more liquid. Let set 3-4 minutes then press with bowl again. Transfer tofu to a mixing bowl; discard extruded liquid.

Before baking
Stir in seasonings and garlic. Form cutlets: Make 8 piles of the tofu mixture on cookie sheets. Press tops and sides of each pile with the back of a spoon until you have flat 4-inch ovals of about ¾ inch thickness (will shrink in oven). Spritz tops of cutlets with a little more cooking spray.

Fresh out of the oven
Bake for about 25 minutes. Pull them out of the oven. Loosen the edges with a spatula and carefully flip each cutlet. Put them back in the oven for 15-20 minutes more, until golden and crispy on both sides. You might want to rotate your cookie sheets partway through baking for even cooking.


Serve warm with sauce of your choice. I had it with mushroom gravy and some dressing on the side, but a creamy or tomato-y sauce would have been good too.

Cutlet with mushroom gravy

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