Barbeque Tofu with Pineapple and Mango

Tofu at most Asian restaurants is usually so good that I’m left thinking about it weeks after I’ve had it.

It’s a perfectly cooked balance of crispy and tender, firm yet chewy. The sauces are right on point; tangy, slightly spicy, and leaves me wanting more.

Or if you’re familiar with the tofu that Whole Foods sells in its deli cases for about $9.99 a pound and to feed a family at those prices, you’d need three jobs just to afford to get dinner on that table?

Yeah, that’s the tofu I wish I could afford to eat but I can’t.

It’s always amazes me that people pay those prices for deli food that you bring back home, likely re-heat in the microwave, and eat it out of a cardboard container.

Why do that?

When you can do this.

Necessity is the mother of invention.

Let’s make restaurant-style tofu at home.

First, you must press your tofu.

If you don’t have a tofu press, and you eat tofu with any regularity or would like to start eating more tofu, this gadget is worth it’s weight in soggy paper towels because all the water stays in the box and floats to the top, and the drying tofu is at the bottom.

But if you don’t have a press, wrap the tofu in paper towels, double or triple layer them, wrapping them around the tofu many times like it’s a little present. Lay the tofu on a cutting board or flat surface. Put cookbooks, a heavy metal frying pan, or something with substantial weight on top of the tofu.

Press the tofu for at least 1 hour, in whatever manner you’re doing it. I usually put my tofu in the tofu press before bed and refrigerate it, and the next morning, I slice it and get it ready for marinating. By dinner time that night, it’s ready to be baked off.

Try to think one day ahead for this and all tofu meals between the pressing and the marinating, but pressing for 30 minutes and marinating for 30 minutes is better than nothing if you didn’t budget in a day’s notice. Who does.

Slice the tofu into 16 thin strips, arrange it a foil-lined pan and you have to, I repeat must line your pan with foil unless you love doing dishes with lots of elbow grease and blackened bits flaking off on your sponge and making your kitchen sinks look like a dirt pile. Use foil and it will all be contained within.

Drizzle with olive oil

Crack open your Secret Ingredient

If you don’t have Korean Barbeque Sauce, use some Bone Suckin’ Sauce or your favorite bbq sauce. I wouldn’t get too hung up on if the packaging says Korean or not. Sodium is sodium.

Gently and evenly, pour the bbq sauce over the tofu.

Wait awhile

At least an hour, 8 hours; longer is better

But whatever you’ve got, you’ve got

Please Note: When you are ready to bake this, you cannot leave the kitchen for the 15 minutes this is broiling. This is one of those times where you cannot multi-task, go upstairs and fold the laundry, or check your email “real quick”. Real quick’s turn crispy edges into char city and your house reeks of burnt soy for 4 days. You have to stay in the kitchen because this can and will burn on moment’s notice (between the soy and the sugars in the bbq sauce) and you need to be right there.

With that caveat, broil for 10 minutes

Flip and broil for 5  minutes

Add diced pineapple and mango pieces and broil for 1 more minute

Eat

If you think tofu is bland, boring, mushy, limp, or flavorless, you haven’t tried it this way. It’s the opposite of those things based on technique (pressing and broiling) and on the type of marinade is used and how long it marinates.

The edges are crispy, the center is tender, the sauce thickens, caramelizes, intensifies and concentrates in flavor.

The diced pineapple and mango with their sweetness and acidity balance the saltiness and spiciness from the sauce.

This is as close as my husband gets to saying he really likes tofu, rather than simply tolerating it.

This is that vegan meal you serve to non-vegans when you don’t want them to turn up their nose at vegan food. Just tell them it tastes like barbeque chicken because everything tastes like chicken.

Except this.

This tastes like really good restaurant tofu and it will cost you about $2.99 to make – one package of tofu, half a jar of bbq sauce, and a half cup of (frozen) fruit.

There’s no cleanup because it’s all contained in the foil so it’s a make it and toss it meal. Love those nights when after a long day and cooking that the dishes fairy comes and does them for me.

That way I can get started figuring out what’s for dessert. Putting the fire out with a chocolate cake batter milkshake sounds about right.

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Korean Barbeque Tofu with Pineapple and Mango (vegan, gluten-free)

1 block extra firm tofu, drained and pressed

sprinkle with salt, pepper, cayenne pepper, chili powder, garlic powder, onion powder, optional and to taste

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 cup Korean barbeque sauce (or your favorite bbq sauce)

1/4 cup finely diced pineapple

1/4 cup finely diced mango

Drain the tofu and press it with a tofu press for at least one hour, or overnight. If you do not have a tofu press, wrap the tofu in paper towels, double or triple layer them, wrapping around the tofu many times. Lay tofu on a cutting board or flat surface. Put cookbooks, a heavy metal frying pan, or something with substantial weight on top of the tofu and allow it to be pressed for at least 1 hour, gently pressing down with your hands from time to time, to encourage the water to release. After at least one hour, unwrap the tofu and slice it into 16 thin strips, about 1/8-inch wide.

Line a 9-by-13-inch pan with aluminum foil (do not skip this step), carefully transfer the tofu to the pan and place all slices in the pan, making sure the edges do not touch each other. If you want to season it with optional spices, do so. The marinade I used is incredibly flavorful and I don’t find any additional seasonings necessary.

Drizzle with olive oil. Carefully pour the barbeque sauce over the tofu. It will look like a lot, that’s okay. Allow the tofu to marinate for at least one hour, or all day. You can leave it at room temperature or in the refrigerator based on preference (I usually put my tofu in the tofu press before bed and refrigerate it, and the next morning, I slice it and put it in the pan with the olive oil and maridnade, where I let it marinate for half a day or all day until I am going to cook it and I don’t refrigerate it but that’s my comfort level).

Note: When ready to actully cook the tofu, make sure you have 15 minutes where you can be attentive, not multi-tasking or distracted, and not having to run in out of the kitchen. This method of cooking tofu can cause it to burn on a moment’s notice so you really need to watch it and be present and attentive.

Preheat oven to the broiler setting. Place the tofu under the broiler and cook for 10 minutes. Remove it, flip all pieces over, and broil for 4 to 5 more minutes. Remove it and sprinkle with the pineapple and mango and broil for 1 more minute. Tips: Do not be alarmed if the marinade on the edges of the pan starts turning black. Pay attention to what’s happening with the tofu pieces and look at the edges and corners. They should have a sear, and have just a hint of blackening, or cook until desired level. All broiling times are approximate based on how much sauce or marinade you have in the bottom of the pan and its consistency and moisture content (the more excess you have, the longer it needs to cook); the moisture content and width of your tofu and how well it was pressed and how well-done you like your tofu; your oven temperature. This is why you cannot leave the kitchen and must be attentive. My advice is to allow it to get to the edge of looking burned before pulling it so it has that seared and crispy edge with a soft middle texture.

Allow tofu to cool for a few minutes and serve, scooping up any extra marinade from the bottom of the pan if desired. Leftover tofu will keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.

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Related recipes:

All Tofu and Tempeh Recipes here

Tofu Tips – what to do to so your tofu “turns out” right every time

Peanut Sauce Baked Tofu (vegan, GF)

Sweet and Sour Honey Lemon Tofu

Pumpkin Honey Tofu – this tofu turns out like pumpkin bread because of a freezing technique. I highly recommend both the technique and the recipes. Freezing tofu before cooking it gives tofu a chewy, almost bread-like texture and quality, the opposite of mushy

Maple Ginger Mango Tofu (vegan, GF)

Have you ever made tofu at home? What flavors, marinades, sauces, or spices do you use?

What’s your cooking methodology from pressing, slicing, baking, broiling, to pan-frying?

There are so many variables involved at every step and I always like to know what people do and what is successful.

I like strips and slices rather than little cubes because that means a less cumbersome job of flipping them all, one-by-one, in order to properly sear them.

I also prefer to bake or broil rather than pan sear because something about oil splattering on my wrists when I am trying to flip them all over just isn’t fun and that always happens to me; whereas the broiler doesn’t let me down.

Thanks for the Magimix by Robot-Coupe Food Processor & Juice Extractor Giveaway entries

92 comments on “Barbeque Tofu with Pineapple and Mango”

  1. I LOVE tofu! & this recipe seems easy enough for me to give it a try! :D

  2. Hi Averie, your tofu looks absolutely fantastic! Photos are so vivid and almost alive, makes me want to take a piece right from the screen.
    No, I don’t make tofu at home, but I cook with tofu sometimes. All the controversy about soy products moderates out tofu consumption. This recipe sounds really good, and I will definitely try it in the near future. I know my men would love it too because of bbq…:) I have something sweet on my blog today, come see it, please. :) I can’t forget the taste of those cannolis…

    • Thanks, Marina, for the compliments on the pics. It was hard to shoot b/c it was scalding hot, it was shiny, it was losing “life” the longer it sat out of the oven – I appreciate the compliments!

  3. I love pressed, baked tofu – you’re right, it is the closest to restaurant-quality that you can make at home. Is there a big difference between Korean barbeque sauce and American?

  4. Truth… I hate tofu. But seriously girl, you make this look SO good, I’m tempted to try it all over again. Love your bright pretty shots ;)

  5. I have never successfully made tofu at home. You have convinced me that I should invest in the tofu press and try this recipe. My husband might even like it if its barbecue flavored. ;)

    • Lol re your husband. Mine is the same :) But yeah, the press is the way to go. Or, use a heavy cast iron pot and perch it on top of a well wrapped brick but then you have 3/4 c soy-water soaked paper towels to deal with. Lovely :)

  6. I love the addition of the mango and pineapple. Great recipe!!

  7. I usually just use tofu in stir fry, or straight up, unpressed and raw in my hippie bowl. I have never pressed tofu. I always buy the extra firm, and it never seems to have excess water.

  8. Yum! I need that tofu press immediately! I normally stay away from tofu because I prefer it to have texture and that seems to be what you have achieved. Curry soya chunks is one of my favorite tofu dishes. Also, your pictures are fabulous! What camera do you use and do you have any tips?

  9. Good to see so much feedback regarding tofu. I try to make it once to twice a week, prefer to fry. I Press my firm tofu each time using a similar device…EZ Tofu Press. It really makes the difference! I chose the EZ Tofu Press as it is almost half the price as the one you are using. Thank you for the recipe!

  10. I need to cook with tofu more – and if we make our own bbq sauce we have tons more control over the sodium level.

  11. I have been loving pressed tofu lately. I think I’m going to make this tonight and have it on some bread with maybe some ranch (although that could clash with the pineapple), lettuce, and tomato. Maybe served with garlic and chive mashed potatoes, slaw, and steamed veggies? Yes please.

  12. looks great! I am dying to try this

  13. I’ve never been a fan of tofu but this honestly looks and sounds amazing!! I’m pretty sure I couldn’t get my husband to eat it, so I’ll have to make it sometime when he’s out :)

  14. I have never made tofu at my house…I think that needs to change! This dish looks amazing! Plus my little vegan brother would probably go gaga over this. I’m sharing it with him now :)

  15. I’m always fascinated by how different people spice up bland old tofu – this looks incredible and just packed with flavor. I’d definitely take a bite of this… I’m featuring this post in today’s Food Fetish Friday (with a link-back and attribution). I hope you have no objections and thanks for creating such amazing food…

  16. It’s really a nice and helpful piece of info. I am happy that you shared this useful information with us. Please keep us up to date like this. Thank you for sharing.

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  18. Mmm, sweet and spicy, love it, especially with the tropical flavors, you can sell me any dish with mango. I am a tofu fan and only press it sometimes. I often buy extra-firm tofu which as far as I can tell basically is pre pressed tofu. It has a very firm non mushy texture.

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  22. This recipe looks fantastic!! I’m going to be making this and put it in a sandwich with a ton of cilantro and a drizzle of sriracha! Oh yeah… DELISH :) Thanks for sharing!!

  23. Pingback: BBQ Tofu with Pineapple & Mango | Vegan Recipe Pins

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  25. I’ve never seen $10 tofu at any Whole Foods.. what nonsense.

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