Umami Tofu and Veggies

I have a confession to make.  I love tofu.  So much so that I would say I eat it 4-5 times a month at least.

My love for tofu blossomed when I began dating my boyfriend, a vegetarian, and has never faded.  The problem we run into with tofu is how to marinate it, since we try to maintain a low-sodium diet.  Many popular marinades rely on soy sauce, which isn’t a good option for us for a myriad of reason.  Enter my new discovery: umami sauce.

While searching the Internet for low-sodium marinades, I discovered Jessica Goldman Foung’s post on Living Without in which she shared a soy sauce replacement recipe from Sodium Girl.  Her umami sauce is built on the basic flavors of Asian cooking, and is delightful.  The entire one-cup recipe also has less than thirty calories and nearly negligible sodium.

So, naturally, I used Sodium Girl’s umami sauce to make a delightful plate of marinated baked tofu and vegetable medley.  Both dishes were simple, and delicious paired with some rice from Trader Joe’s.  I’ve shared the easy-as-pie recipes below — happy cooking!

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Sodium Girl’s Umami Sauce

  • 1 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon cooked unseasoned rice vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon molasses
  • ½ teaspoon dark brown sugar
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder

Mix all ingredients together. Refrigerate until ready to use.  Makes one cup.

Baked Umami Tofu

Ingredients

  • One recipe umami sauce (above)
  • One package extra firm tofu, preferably organic

Directions

  1. Begin by pressing as much liquid from your tofu as possible.  I recommend the freeze/thaw/squeeze technique.
  2. Cut your tofu into either “slabs” or cubes.  Cubes will absorb more marinade.
  3. Place your cut tofu in a closed container with umami marinade.  Allow to marinade for at least an hour, longer if possible, turning or jostling the tofu periodically.  The longer it marinates, the better!
  4. When your tofu is marinated, preheat your oven to 425 and cover a cookie sheet with parchment or a silpat.  Place cut tofu on the sheet and bake for 15 minutes.  Turn pieces, and bake for a further 15 minutes.
  5. Remove from oven and serve alongside any sides you like.

Note:  Do not discard any leftover marinade if making umami vegetables.

Umami Vegetables

Ingredients

  • Fresh produce, sliced into uniform pieces — I used garlic, onion, carrots, red bell pepper, zucchini, and portobello mushrooms.
  • One tablespoon olive oil
  • Leftover umami sauce, or another batch of the marinade

Directions

  1. Heat olive oil in a large pan over medium heat.  Add vegetables one type at a time, allowing to cook some between each addition.  Begin with aromatics like garlic and onion, then add hearty vegetables like carrots.  Add delicate vegetables like mushrooms last.
  2. When vegetables are beginning to soften and browning begins to occur in pan, add umami sauce.  Allow to cook with vegetables uncovered until liquid is absorbed/evaporated and vegetables are tender.
  3. Remove from heat and cover until ready to serve.
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