roast chicken-style tofu

so uh, this is probably the pinnacle of my recipe-blogging career. seriously. i can’t imagine how it gets better from here.

a couple weeks ago i veganised a recipe from the guardian for lemon-roasted new potatoes, and the intrusive thought popped up that it would be the perfect side for roast chicken. this made me sad for two reasons: firstly, that such an iconic taste of my childhood was built on the death of an animal; and secondly, that i wouldn’t be able to properly recreate this taste in a cruelty-free way.

i immediately set out to prove myself wrong on the second count.

i’ve had three goes at this recipe, which requires one specialty ingredient that you can pick up from your local east asian grocer: oiled beancurd sheets. different from thicker tofu skin, and not to be confused with dry beancurd sheets which can’t be folded without crumbling to shit, oiled sheets are pliable and mimic both the crispness and the sloppiness of roasted skin really well. the sheets i bought were so large that i had to snip them into four pieces for the recipe, so one pack of around 8 large sheets is good value too.

this isn’t really an ‘everyday’ recipe, because while it’s relatively straightforward to make, it takes longer than an average weeknight supper and needs some prep earlier in the day or the night before. namely, the tofu needs to be pressed and marinated – which will only make you hungry as you put together the marinade:

one day i, too, will be able to take gorgeous pictures of my food. but just look at that marinade. ffs LOOK AT IT. 

anyways after you marinate the tofu for as long as you can, you then have to roll it up into its ‘skin’, which is also a bit fiddly. i’d highly recommend this roast for special occasions or company, though, because it’s goddamned delicious.

so without further ado:

roast chicken-style tofu
2 400g packets firm tofu (can also stretch the marinade to 3 if you have lots of company)
2 large oiled beancurd sheets (3 if making extra)
juice, zest, and pulp from 2 lemons
2 Tbsp fresh rosemary needles, or 2 tsp dried
2 Tbsp poultry seasoning of choice
1 1/2 tsp salt, or to taste (i used 2 tsp, which was slightly too salty – also reduce if poultry seasoning is particularly salty)
black pepper to taste
3/4 cup olive oil

a few hours before you’re due to cook this, or the night before, drain each block of tofu and slice into 4 pieces lengthwise – they should be long rectangles about 1.5cm thick. save the containers! take two large plates, put a dishtowel over the bottom plate, and arrange your 8 tofu pieces evenly over the plate. double the dishtowel over on top of the tofu, stack the second plate on top, and balance several heavy objects on that plate (i used a rice cooker and iron skillet).

while the tofu is pressing, make your marinade. wanna make it really easy on yourself? throw the lemon, rosemary, seasoning, salt, pepper, and olive oil into a food processor and blend until smooth. if food processors are too fancy for you, just chop the lemon zest and rosemary needles as finely as you can, and mix the marinade together with a fork.

after at least 20 minutes, carefully take the heavy things off your top tofu plate, and chuck the dishtowel in the laundry. put 4 pieces of the pressed tofu back into each of the containers, and evenly divide the marinade between them – you should have about 300ml marinade. don’t forget to evenly divide up the chunky bits! pop it into the fridge and leave for a few hours. 

a couple hours before you’re due to serve, take the tofu out of the fridge. put all the pieces onto a plate, and combine the marinade into one container (just makes it loads easier). take a large baking dish and oil it with about 1Tbsp olive oil. take your two large beancurd sheets, and cut them each into 4 pieces with kitchen scissors. each piece should be able to wrap around the tofu fillets.

place a beancurd sheet onto a cutting board and brush with the marinade. put one tofu fillet inside, then fold the sheet around it and roll up like a burrito. brush the bottom seam and sides with marinade, place your parcel seam-side down into the baking dish, and brush the top with marinade. repeat with the remaining tofu and sheets. if at any point you think you might run out of marinade (i’m looking right atcha, stretching-to-12-parcels people), just add more olive oil and mix back in.

heat your oven to 220C/gas 6. cover your baking dish with foil (or a lid if you have one o’ them fancy casserole dishes), and place in the oven. take it out after half an hour, brush the tops of your parcels in the gorgeous bubbling liquid from the baking dish, put the foil back on, and put back in for 20 minutes. remove from the oven again, brush the tops, then put it uncovered back into the oven for 10-15 minutes.

remove from oven, brush one more time because why not, and serve with all the yums ^_^

(note: you can also make this a one-pan dish by roasting in a casserole dish over vegetables. aw yiss!!)

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