Grilled Tofu with Sesame-Soy Marinade (Recipe)

Monday, December 24, 2018

If you think you don’t like tofu, perhaps you just haven’t tried the right recipe. I hope this savory little number will change your mind about this nutritious and delicious plant-based protein source.

Perhaps waxing on about tofu seems strange around the holidays to some, but it’s perfect from my perspective. Because with so much meatiness this time of year, what’s a plant eater to do?

Eat tofu, I say!

Tofu is made from soybeans and is an amazing source of lean “complete” protein, which means it contains all of the essential amino acids your body needs. And its phytoestrogens—powerful plant components—have beneficial health effects and doubtless play a role in the longevity of Okinawans; indeed, they are among the longest-lived populations in the world. (This is the kind of thing I discuss in my new book Food & Nutrition: What Everyone Needs to Know.)

Tofu’s spongy texture allows it to take on various flavors, which is why marinades and sauces in general are super, if not essential. This particular recipe is the basis for my Vietnamese bánh mi (recipe to come), though serving it sans bread with some do chua (pickled vegetables) makes a lovely light lunch. A quick sandwich with mayo, arugula, and scallions on whole grain bread is also delightful. Or, you could also cut it in cubes and skewer it served aside satay sauce for a scrumptious hors d’oeuvres 

With so many ways to enjoy plant protein that’s better for your health and way better for the environment—especially its carbon footprint when compared to animal flesh—it’s time to get your tofu on.

Grilled Tofu with Sesame-Soy Marinade

2 pounds extra-firm tofu, cut into slabs
5 tablespoons rice wine (or vinegar)
Juice from 1 or 2 limes (start with 1)
3 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
1 tablespoon soy sauce, low-sodium
5 cloves garlic, crushed
3 teaspoons fresh ginger, grated
2 teaspoons coconut sugar (or light brown)
½ teaspoon white pepper
1 teaspoon sriracha (optional)
½ teaspoon salt (optional—soy sauce is salty)
Extra sesame oil, for grilling


1. Whisk together all marinade ingredients, taste, and adjust seasonings (salt, pepper, lime juice, sugar) as desired.

2. Cut tofu into slabs, place into a large pan (glass or porcelain, not metal), and cover with marinade. Set timer for 20 minutes then turn over the tofu to maximize absorption, letting sit for an additional 20 minutes.

3. Turn pan to medium-high heat, hot enough to create grill marks while allowing time to cooking through, about 3 minutes each side.

4. Remove to a platter and cover with additional marinade and garnish with fresh coriander leaves (aka cilantro), if it makes you happy.

Learn more about nutrition scientist and food personality Dr. P.K. Newby, and check out her newest book. You can also follow her on FB, where she is much more active than on this blog. Or, click here if you just want to ogle food porn featuring plant-based, globally-inspired cuisine.

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Dr. P.K. Newby is a nutrition scientist, speaker, and author with expertise in all things food, farm to fork, whether preventing obesity and other chronic diseases through diet or teaching planet-conscious eating. As a health expert and food personality, she brings together her passions for food, cooking, science, and sustainability to educate and inspire, helping people eat their way towards better health, one delectable bite at a time. Healthy Hedonism (TM) is her philosophy: Because healthy food shouldn’t suck.

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