This easy marinated tofu only requires cutting, mixing, and 5 minutes of actual cooking. Flavorful and versatile, it is a great protein base for any meal!
In this post you’ll learn:
- Why you will love this recipe
- Step-by-step instructions
- If you should press your tofu
- If you can eat raw tofu
- What to do if you like your tofu crispy
- If stir-frying/baking is worth-it
- Meal prep, storage, and freezing instructions
- Tasty things to pair up your marinated tofu with
Why You Will Love This Recipe
- Quick and easy: With just 15 minutes of marinating time, this quick marinated tofu recipe is perfect if you’re tight on time or just don’t want to spend hours in the kitchen.
- Full of flavor: Say goodbye to bland tofu. This marinade has a lot of umami from the soy sauce and sesame oil.
- Versatile: You can add this marinated tofu to any of your favorite meals. Serve it on a bed of rice or noodle, add it to a salad, or even use it in your sandwich!
- Vegan: This easy tofu marinade makes for a great plant-based protein source.
- Firm or extra firm tofu: The plant-based protein goodness in this recipe.
- Soy sauce: Giving this marinade that rich umami flavor.
- Rice vinegar: A bit of acidity to give a rich tanginess and a flavor boost. Feel free to experiment using the vinegar that you have at home!
- Sesame oil: It helps the marinade to be absorbed better by the tofu. And the smell of sesame oil will make anyone want to dig in immediately!
- Ginger: Having a slightly peppery and sweet taste, ginger gives this marinade a kick.
- Sambal oelek: To add a punch of heat to this tofu marinade recipe. Feel free to sub with sriracha sauce or chili powder, or skip entirely if you’re not a fan of spicy food!
Mix – Marinade. Just two simple steps to make this tofu.
Mix: Mix all the marinade ingredients together.
Marinade: Add the tofu, stir well, and leave it to rest.
With just 15 minutes of marinating time, this is a quick tofu marinade. Although the longer you marinade, the better the taste will be. I like to marinade mine overnight and make a bigger batch such that I can have them for the next couple of days.
Do I Have to Press My Tofu?
Nope, unpressed tofu is just as good as pressed tofu in this recipe. The benefit of pressing your tofu is that it squeezes extra moisture out. This makes it easier for the tofu to absorb the marinade and it should make the tofu crispier if they are stir-fried or baked.
I have tested this and the most noticeable difference for me was in the texture. The pressed tofu is a bit chewier and has more of a bit to it whereas the unpressed tofu is softer. The pressed tofu does absorb more of the marinade, but the unpressed tofu is just as flavorful as the pressed one, especially if you marinade them longer.
So my recommendation is to only press your tofu if you would like to have more bite to your tofu. If you do like your tofu to have a little bit of that “melt-in-your-mouth” feel, then skip the pressing and save yourself some time and effort there.
Wait, Can I Really Eat Tofu Raw?
Yes, tofu is safe to eat right out of the package! Tofu is already cooked in the process of making it as it was made by boiling crushed, dried soybeans.
But I Like My Tofu Crispy!
No worries! You can either stir-fry or bake your marinated tofu.
Stir-frying gives it more flavor because, in the end, you will have a nice glaze using the leftover marinade. However, with baking, you can just pop it in the oven and forget about it instead of having to constantly keep an eye on your tofu when stir-frying. So if you’re tight on time, I’d recommend baking but otherwise, stir-frying is the way to go!
How to Stir-fry Tofu (Optional)
Preparation: Add 1/2 Tablespoon of your favorite cooking oil over medium-high heat to a frying pan (I like to use olive oil). Once hot, add the tofu into the pan without the leftover marinade but do NOT throw the leftover marinade away.
Crisping the tofu: Fry the tofu for 2-3 minutes on each side, without turning or moving it. Not moving it will help the marinade caramelize and give the tofu that crispy texture and nice golden brown color. After the first 2-3 minutes, flip it over and cook for another 2-3 minutes. Repeat until all sides are crispy and golden brown.
While waiting for the tofu to turn crispy, add 1 Tablespoon of cornstarch to your leftover marinade. Mix well.
Adding that glaze: Once all the sides of the tofu look golden brown, turn off the heat and immediately pour in the leftover marinade and stir. The residual heat will cook the sauce while the cornstarch will thicken it. Continue mixing for 1 more minute to coat the tofu evenly.
How to Bake Tofu (Optional)
Adding cornstarch to make the tofu crispy: Scoop out the tofu from the marinade. Add 1 Tablespoon of cornstarch and mix well. Put the tofu back in and mix well.
Bake: Then on a baking sheet, bake your tofu for 20 minutes at 205 °C (400 °F). You can flip the tofu midway but feel free to skip if you are short on time. The tofu will still be crispy as long as the baking tray is not overcrowded.
Is the Stir-frying or Baking Worth It Though?
If you are planning to meal prep with this, I would say no. After all, this recipe is about how easy and effortless it is to make marinated tofu. But if you are planning to eat them directly, I have to say stir-frying is worth it.
This is because when stored overnight, the stir-fried or baked tofu tends to get soggy. On the other hand, the longer you leave the raw tofu marinating, the stronger the flavor will be. That said, feel free to experiment and only stir-fry or bake half of the batch, then decide for yourself if it’s worth it!
Meal Prep, Storage, and Freezing Instruction
Meal prep: Feel free to make this tofu ahead for up to 2 days, stored in the fridge. The tofu will absorb more sauce the longer it sits in the fridge. So if you would like to still have a bit of sauce left, then make more of the marinade.
Storage: This marinated tofu will keep well in the fridge for up to 5 days, depending on the expiry date of the tofu when you bought it. But let’s not waste food! As always, the best way to know if any food is still good to eat is to see, smell, and taste it. If it looks, smells, and tastes alright, it probably is.
Freezing: You can freeze the leftover tofu for up to 2 months. To thaw, place it in the fridge overnight for at least 10 hours. The texture of the tofu will be more spongey and chewier but it’s still yummy!
Use firm or extra-firm tofu. The firmer the tofu, the better it will hold its shape. Since firmer tofu has a lower moisture content, it will also absorb the marinade better.
But if you like softer tofu, regular tofu (usually labeled as just “tofu”) would also work although it might break apart when mixing with a spoon.
You can definitely substitute it with rice wine vinegar since they are the same.
I have not tried other types of vinegar but I can imagine it will work just as well. Feel free to experiment by substituting with a 1:1 ratio. You can try lime/lemon juice, apple cider vinegar, or whatever vinegar you have at home.
No, I do not recommend this. Sesame oil has a very rich flavor that adds a nice complexity to this marinade. You will know it once you smell it. Most other oils (such as olive oil) are flavorless so they are not a great substitute for sesame oil.
I personally do not own an air fryer but I imagine it will work as well. If you are comfortable using an air fryer, feel free to experiment and let me know how it went in the comments!
Tasty Ways to Eat Your Marinated Tofu
It is also a great protein-packed source for your buddha bowls. For easy lunches, I recommend using it in sandwiches while for easy dinners, serve it with brown rice and stir-fried vegetables. So many options for this versatile recipe!
Easy Marinated Tofu
- 1 block tofu 400-450 grams (14-16 oz), firm or extra firm, cubed into 2.5 cm (1 inch) on each side
For the Marinade
- 5 Tablespoons soy sauce
- 1 Tablespoon rice vinegar
- 1 teaspoon sesame oil
- 1.5 Tablespoons ginger (grated, about 2.5 cm or 1 inch when whole)
- ¾ teaspoon sambal oelek optional, or sub with sriracha, cayenne pepper powder, or chili powder
- 1 Tablespoon cornstarch optional, for stir-frying or baking
Make Marinated Tofu
- Mix: In a shallow container, mix all the ingredients for the marinade together.
- Marinade: Add the cubed tofu and stir so that each tofu cube can absorb the marinade. Set aside for at least 15 minutes.
Optional – Stir Fry
- Add 1/2 Tablespoon of your favorite cooking oil to a frying pan over medium-high heat. Once hot, add the tofu into the pan without the leftover marinade, but do NOT throw the leftover marinade away.
- Let the tofu fry for 2-3 minutes on each side, without turning or moving it. This helps the tofu caramelize.
- While waiting for the tofu to get crispy, add 1 Tablespoon of cornstarch to your leftover marinade if using. Mix well.
- After the first 2-3 minutes, flip it over and cook for another 2-3 minutes. Repeat until all sides are crispy and golden brown.
- Once all the sides of the tofu look golden brown, turn the heat off. Immediately pour in the leftover marinade and stir. The residual heat will cook the sauce while the cornstarch will thicken it. Continue mixing for 1 more minute to coat the tofu evenly.
Optional – Bake
- Scoop out the tofu from the marinade. Add 1 Tablespoon of cornstarch to the leftover marinade if using. Mix well.
- Put the tofu back in and stir.