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Jerk Baked Tofu is a great way to enjoy a great Jamaican meal without all the meat. This oil-free marinated baked tofu is packed full of spices and flavor. Jerk tofu is delicious served on top of rice, salads, roasted veggies or all by itself as a simple snack.
Jerk flavor is something I can never get enough of. I love using it on tofu, as a salad dressing, a sauce for rice, or any other thing I can dream up. I also really love tofu, especially the baked kind. So, combining baked tofu with jerk sauce seemed an obvious next step for me.
What is Jerk Seasoning?
Oh, you're not acquainted with jerk seasoning? Well, let me introduce you to your new favorite flavor! Jerk spice is a flavor found in Jamaican cuisine that typically contains allspice, cinnamon, nutmeg, thyme, ginger, onion, garlic and cayenne (optional if you're a wimp like me). This is typically rubbed on meat to season it before cooking, or can also be made into a marinade or sauce as I do here with the tofu.
Tofu Butchery 101
If you've never worked with tofu before I am going to give a few easy steps here for beginners.
For starters, make sure you are buying extra-firm tofu from the refrigerated section and NOT silken tofu. Silken tofu is generally not refrigerated and is packaged in cardboard containers. These two types of tofu are very different and cannot generally be used interchangeably.
First, you'll want to drain and press your tofu for at least 30 minutes. What does this mean? Tofu comes packed in water to keep it fresh. You'll want to dump out all that water and then place the tofu in a strainer. Next you'll want to place something on top of the tofu to press the water out of it. I typically use 4 plates and stack them on top of the tofu. Set aside for at least 30 minutes or up to a few hours. (If you have a tofu press, follow the directions for your press here instead of my shoddy, yet surprisingly efficient, technique. I'm guessing, since you're new to tofu, you don't have this gadget. I don't have one either!)
Next, remove your tofu from the strainer and put it on a cutting board. Stand the tofu on its side and cut into thirds. Next, lay it down with the largest side down and cut into fourths the long way. Finally, cut crosswise into sixths. Now you have a pile of nicely cubed tofu. Congrats! You've just butchered your first tofu.
How to marinate tofu
Tofu by itself is flavorless and not of great culinary significance. But marinating tofu with a flavorful sauce or spices will up it's game by 1,000%. Tofu is a little sponge that will soak up whatever flavors you surround it with. You can use any sauce you have on hand, even a store-bought curry or teriyaki sauce will work here for a quick dinner.
Just like with meat, the longer you marinate the tofu, the more flavorful it will become. If you don't have time to marinate the tofu, no problem. You'll still infuse flavor into the tofu by simply cooking it with sauces and spices. To marinate tofu, follow the instructions for Tofu Butchery 101 above. Then, toss the tofu with your marinade of choice, cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes and up to 8 hours. Now the tofu is ready to be cooked!
How to bake tofu
My favorite way to make tofu is in the oven. You can cook tofu on the stove top, but there's generally a lot of oil and time flipping tofu pieces involved. Baking is a great way to streamline the process and make it a bit healthier by taking the oil out too.
Once your tofu is done marinating, remove it from the marinade, leaving as much of the liquid behind as possible. Don't throw the marinade away though, save it as a sauce for the tofu after it's done baking.
Place the tofu on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, making sure the tofu is not crowded on the sheet. Place in a 400F oven for 25-30 minutes, flipping once or twice, until nicely browned and slightly crispy. Now your jerk baked tofu is ready to enjoy!!
Have you tried making tofu before? What is your favorite marinade or flavor?
Jerk Baked Tofu
- 14 ounces extra-firm tofu (NOT silken)
- ¼ large onion roughly chopped
- 4 cloves garlic
- 2 tablespoons fresh ginger roughly chopped
- 1 lime, juiced (about 3 tablespoons)
- 3 tablespoons coconut aminos or soy sauce
- 3 tablespoons maple syrup
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1 teaspoon allspice
- ½ teaspoon cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon nutmeg freshly grated or ground
- ¼ teaspoon cayenne or to taste (optional)
- Drain and press your tofu for at least 30 minutes. Tofu comes packed in water to keep it fresh. Dump out all the water and then place the tofu in a strainer. Next place something on top of the tofu to press the water out of it. I typically use 4 plates and stack them on top of the tofu. Set aside for at least 30 minutes or up to a few hours.
- While the tofu is draining, make the marinade. Combine all remaining ingredients in a blender container and puree until completely smooth, 1-2 minutes depending on your blender.
- When your tofu is done straining, remove it from the strainer and put it on a cutting board. Stand the tofu on its side and cut into thirds. Next, lay it down with the largest side down and cut into fourths the long way. Finally, cut crosswise into sixths. Now you have a pile of nicely cubed tofu.
- Add the cubed tofu to a bowl and pour the marinade over the top. Gently toss the tofu to coat. Allow to marinate for 30 minutes and up to 8 hours. If you don't have time to let the tofu marinate, simply toss it in the marinade and move onto the next step. This won't give the tofu time to fully absorb the marinade, but it will still have a nice flavor.
- Preheat the oven to 400F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
- After the tofu is done marinating, remove it from the marinade, leaving most of the liquid behind. (Don't throw away the marinade! This will make a great sauce to go with the tofu, or use it as a sauce for other veggies, rice or salad.) Place the tofu on the prepared baking sheet making sure not to crowd the tofu. Bake for 25-30 minutes, flipping once or twice, until nicely browned and slightly crispy. Remove from the oven and ENJOY!