Honolulu Star-Advertiser

Friday, May 24, 2024 75° Today's Paper


The secret to crispy tofu

Swipe or click to see more

For the crispiest, crunchiest tofu, freeze it first. Tofu is mostly made up of water. When that water turns to ice, then melts and runs out, it leaves behind a more compact, spongy tofu, which is especially great at becoming cacophonously crisp in the oven without a lick of breading. This method — just oil and salt and a hot sheet pan — also concentrates and accentuates the comforting taste of soybeans: gently sweet with a quiet savoriness, and, at the caramelized edges, a little nutty like popcorn. With just a generous sprinkle of salt, the tofu’s true flavor shines. But you could serve the tofu on a large platter with your favorite dipping sauce, or stuff it into a sandwich with iceberg lettuce and mayonnaise.

Crispy Tofu
• 2 (14- to 16-ounce) blocks firm or extra-firm tofu
• 1/4 cup canola or vegetable oil
• Coarse kosher salt or flaky sea salt
• Your favorite dipping sauce (optional)

Drain the tofu, then slice each block crosswise into 8 even slabs (so you have 16 total). Place on a sheet pan or plate in a single layer, cover with a clean kitchen towel and freeze until firm, about 1 1/2 hours or up to 24 hours. Remove from the freezer and let thaw completely in the refrigerator or at room temperature.
When ready to cook, place another sheet pan in the oven on the middle rack, then heat the oven to 425 degrees.

Pat the tofu dry with the towel, gently pressing on each slab to squeeze out some of the water within.

When the oven is heated, remove the hot sheet pan and drizzle all over with the oil. Add the tofu slabs in a single layer. (You should hear them sizzle.)

Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, flipping the tofu once and rotating the pan halfway through, until deeply crisp and golden brown on both sides. Season immediately with salt and serve hot, with your choice of dipping sauce, if you’d like.
Total time: 2 1/4 hours, serves 4.

By participating in online discussions you acknowledge that you have agreed to the Terms of Service. An insightful discussion of ideas and viewpoints is encouraged, but comments must be civil and in good taste, with no personal attacks. If your comments are inappropriate, you may be banned from posting. Report comments if you believe they do not follow our guidelines. Having trouble with comments? Learn more here.