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Now we cleanse, with baked tofu

By Jenna Cho

Publication: theday.com

Published January 08. 2014 9:00PM   Updated January 08. 2014 9:34PM

Oh my God. How many cookies did you have last month? I had 2,462.

Let's cleanse our systems and leave behind all of the gluttony of Thanksgiving and Christmas. Yeah, this recipe calls for some brown sugar, but a partial detox is better than no detox at all.

Baked tofu is amazing. I love the fried tofu that accompanies many a pad Thai, with the crispy skin and soft, silky center. This isn't quite that, but then it's baked, not fried. Still, it does a rather fine job of puffing up those pieces of tofu into flavorful, chewy, bite-size bits with a nice crisp to them.

You can add the baked tofu to salads, rice, or noodles. I like add them to a bowl of freshly cooked soba noodles, coated with a fine drizzle of sesame oil and a sprinkling of sesame seeds. One batch of baked tofu will last me three meals.

The Kitchn gives you a bunch of marinade options, but for my marinade, I turned to 101cookbooks.com, where I had awhile back come across a delicious recipe for pan-seared garlic-brown sugar tofu to go in rolls. I loved the flavor of the brown sugar tofu but hated the mess it made on my skillet. I also found I could have used more of the garlic-brown sugar rub, so for my baked tofu, I doubled the recipe.

Because my "marinade" is really a rub, you'll find it's more of a sticky, liquidy paste than a watery marinade. It'll still do the job - just get your hands in there and coat each cube of tofu with the marinade.

I'm dialing back the sugar a tiny bit here because I think the overnight marinade left the tofu a little too sweet (the original recipe calls for 4 teaspoons, which doubled was too much), but all in all, this was a winner.

The pieces of garlic crisped up in the oven and caramelized with the sugar.

So good.

Baked tofu with garlic-brown sugar marinade

Baked tofu recipe from thekitchn.com

Marinade recipe adapted from 101cookbooks.com

1 16-ounce package extra-firm tofu

6 cloves of garlic

1 teaspoon kosher salt

2 tablespoons brown sugar

4 tablespoons canola oil

Place the block of tofu on a plate with an elevated lip to catch the water that will be pressed out of the tofu. Place a second plate on top of the tofu and add something heavy on top, such as a large can of tomatoes. Let sit for 30 minutes, draining the plate once to remove any water that has pooled at the bottom.

Cube the tofu into whatever size you like.

Meanwhile, make the marinade:

In a small bowl, mash the garlic with the salt and sugar and pound into a paste with a mortar and pestle. (I don't have one, so I use the butt of a knife handle, which conveniently has what looks like a petite meat pounder on it. Don't ask me why it's there, or whether that's its intended use.) Slowly drizzle in the oil, incorporating it into the paste.

I make the paste directly in the plastic container that I'll store the tofu in. So if you're doing the same, at this point, toss the tofu in the marinade, making sure to coat each cube of tofu with the marinade. Cover and leave in the fridge for at least an hour, or overnight. (If you remember to do so, give the container a shake or two during that time to ensure an even marinade. I didn't and it turned out fine.)

Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and add the cubed tofu on the sheet in a single layer.

Bake for about 30 minutes, until the tofu is golden brown and has puffed up a bit.

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