Let’s be honest: natural tofu on its own tastes like sticking your tongue out the window. Very bland. There is simply no way around that fact.
The good news is that it readily takes on whatever flavor you throw at it.
So with a little manipulation and patience, and a lot of herbs and spices, you can make completely nondescript cubes of tofu taste like marinated feta cheese. Actually, better than feta cheese, if you ask me.
The secret is in the carefully chosen combination of spices and herbs and in that most humble of human traits called patience. If you have that, you are good to go.
Wondering how to use these little gems? Check out my Chickpea Salad with Preserved Tofu for some inspiration.
- Glass jars with lids.
- 500 g firm tofu cubed
- 4 -5 garlic clove sliced
- 3 large bay leaves scalded
- 1 dried chipotle pepper scalded
- 6-8 sun-dried tomato halves scalded
- 12 dried juniper berries scalded
- 1 teaspoon whole fenugreek seeds dry roasted
- 1 tablespoon coriander seeds dry roasted and smashed
- 3/4 tablespoon whole black peppercorns
- 3/4 tablespoon whole white peppercorns
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 2 tsp coarse sea salt
- extra virgin olive oil enough to completely cover the tofu in the jar
- Boil the cubed tofu in water for 5 minutes. Drain and gently dry in a clean kitchen towel, then place in a clean pot. Cover the pot with a lid and leave on the kitchen counter at room temperature overnight.
- Transfer the tofu to one or two clean and pre-scalded pickling jar(s) (see note below). It is important to scald the jar(s) and the lid(s) with boiling water first in order to kill off any unwanted bacteria. The jar(s) will be sitting at room temperature for several days so any unwelcome bacteria can quickly take over and render all your good efforts worthless.
- Add all the different spices and the salt to the jar(s). Don't forget to scald the bay leaves, chipotle, tomatoes, and juniper berries beforehand (see note). If using two jars divide the spices evenly. Pour olive oil over until the tofu is completely covered. Shake the jar(s) a bit to mix everything up. Cover with a tight fitting lid (scalded first) and leave in a dark kitchen cabinet for five days, shaking the jar occasionally. After five days transfer the jar(s) to the refrigerator, where it will keep for at least a month. The longer it sits the deeper the flavor.
- When you want to take some tofu cubes out of the jar be sure to always use a clean spoon or fork. It is very important to not introduce bacteria into the jar or you risk seeing moldy patches in the jar next time you open up the jar. If you see mold you will need to discard the entire batch.
- It is also very important to always keep the tofu completely covered with oil. If the level of oil drops be sure to top it up.
- And don’t discard the oil once the tofu is used up. Use the now amazingly flavored oil in dressings and marinades. Just be sure to strain it first.
- Scalding the bay leaves, chipotle chili, sun-dried tomatoes, and the juniper berries before adding to the jar(s) will help to reduce the risk of introducing unwanted bacteria into the marinade. Simply place all these ingredients in a bowl and pour over some boiling water. Drain immediately so as to not lose any of their flavor. Then add the spices to the marinating jar(s).
- I always divide the tofu and spices into two jars. If one batch ends up moldy (due to me not paying attention and inadvertently using a dirty spoon to fish out the tofu) at least it’s not all my hard work going to waste.
- And I cannot stress this enough: always always always! use a clean spoon/fork to pick out the tofu. Trust me on this, I speak from experience…