This awesome tofu marinade works in your air fryer as well as in your oven. It makes tofu cubes that are as versatile as they are delicious, with perfectly done outsides and incredible creamy centers. There are as many marinade recipes for tofu as there are, well, maybe not stars in the sky, but there are a lot of tofu marinade recipes, and we will put this one up against any of them. The secret to this easy, incredible marinade and its fabulous, magical alchemy with tofu is in how you press the tofu, and then letting the tofu marinate for a good long time. For this recipe it is imperative that you use the type of tofu that is found packed in water, in the refrigerated section. We use the House brand tofu from Costco for this, and it’s perfect.
For this reason, even if you already have a tofu press, or even if you are a purist and insist on using the “two plates and a book” method, we urge you to consider getting this tofu press. We promise it will be worth it (it’s the tofu press that we recommend in our ‘recommended tools’ section in our sidebar, and we only ever recommend things that we use and love ourselves, and they are never things for which we’ve been approached for an endorsement; if we are recommending it that means we researched and purchased it ourselves, and we genuinely recommend it).
As you can see, this tofu press has three levels, or ‘settings’, with the thick rubber bands on either end providing various amounts of pressure, depending onto which level (setting) you hook the rubber band. We call the top-most setting “level 1” or “lightest” (as it provides the lightest amount of pressure), “level 2” or “medium” for the middle setting, and “level 3” or “heaviest” for the level setting at the bottom, which provides the most amount of pressure. For this recipe, if you are using this tofu press, you will press it on the lightest setting for about 15 minutes. For lots of tofu recipes you want to squeeze out as much liquid and moisture as you possibly can, to make it as ‘dry’ as possible, but not for this recipe. You would think that pressing out as much liquid as possible would allow the tofu to soak up as much marinade as possible, but, somewhat counter-intuitively, that’s not what happens (at least not here). Also, you will be surprised by how much liquid you actually press out even with just 15 minutes on the lightest setting.
Tofu press on lightest setting
Once you have pressed your tofu, and made your marinade, you will cube the tofu and then put it in an air-tight (because they are also water-tight) container. That way you can flip the container every so often to make sure that all of the tofu cubes get saturated with the marinade. We use these Rubbermaid ‘Brilliance’ containers, and they are awesome (and BPA-free).
Tofu marinating right-side up
Tofu marinating upside down
Perfect Marinade for Perfect Tofu
2 Tablespoons coconut aminos
2 Tablespoons regular aminos (or tamari)
2 Tablespoons sesame oil
2 Tablespoons water
1 Tablespoon sambal oelek or other chili paste
1 Tablespoon garlic
1 block water-packed firm tofu
Press the tofu at level 1 (“lightest”) or the equivalent for about 15 minutes. While the tofu is pressing, combine all of the other ingredients in a water-tight container (we use a small whisk for this). After the tofu is done pressing, cut it into cubes about 1″ by 1/2″. Put the tofu cubes into the marinade, seal the container, and gently rotate to coat all of the tofu with the marinade. Set the container on a plate (just in case it leaks, although ours never have – still we put it on that plate just in case), and allow the tofu to marinate for at least 3 hours (the longer the better), flipping the container over every half hour or so. (If you can do this in the evening, and then put the container in the refrigerator overnight, that will yield an incredible tofu!)
When you are ready to cook your tofu, remove it from the marinade but save the marinade! You will want to drizzle it either over the cooked tofu, or over some rice – it’s so yummy!
Once you are ready to cook your tofu, you can either do it naked (er, the tofu, not you) or you can coat it, We like to roll our tofu cubes in almond flour and then lightly spray them with olive oil. You can also get all fancy and dip them in unsweetened plant milk, and then roll them in almond flour with a little corn starch or tapioca starch mixed in (that is yummy, but also messy, and not for when you’re feeling lazy). If you are going for naked, we still recommend spraying them lightly with olive oil spray.
To bake your tofu: Preheat your oven to 400°. Line a baking pan with parchment paper, or lightly spray the baking pan with cooking spray. Put the tofu in the oven for 10 to 15 minutes, until it starts turning golden brown on top, then flip it over and cook for another 10 minutes.
To air fry your tofu: Spray the basket of your air fryer with cooking spray. Place your tofu in the basket, standing it on its narrow end if you can; this way you can fit all of the tofu in and still have airflow around it. We call this “tofu henge”.
Set your air fryer to 400°, and air fry for 12 to 15 minutes, shaking the basket a bit about half-way through.
Now enjoy the most delicious tofu with the creamiest center ever!
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