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Expired to Inspired: Tofu Reclamation at Anabel's

By Collaboration and Education Committee


October 2021: A group of 6 members of the Anabel's team stand over a bucket of locally produced Ithaca Soy Tofu on a Friday night. Somberly, they realize there is no way the tofu will last until Wednesday when the store opens again. Not quite expired though, drastic measures are taken to prevent food waste. The blocks are diced and put into the freezer. According to google, this can actually IMPROVE the texture and flavor! In fact, it is a technique used in cold northern regions of China to freeze the tofu before using it in stews, so that the resulting porous texture helps soak up delicious flavors from the stew.


Tofu is a fairly common meat substitute. It is made of soy and comes in a variety of forms from soft to extra firm. Although it does not provide much flavor on its own, there is plenty of room to spice for any cuisine! It goes great in soups, salads, tacos, and stir-fries.


A great way to cook tofu for any dish is pan-frying. We recommend removing as much water as possible before cooking. Add spices (see below) to coat the tofu cubes and olive oil to a pan on medium-high heat. Then, toss the cubes in the pan and stir occasionally for 10 minutes, until the outside is brown and somewhat crispy. Adding a cool sauce is also recommended (see an example below!).


In Anabel Taylor Hall, we cooked A LOT of tofu using this method. We handed it out for free outside the store as well as inside for customers. Instead of composting this food, we used the freeze and fry pan strategy to spread the word and love about tofu! Thank you to the people who made this event happen :)


Marinated Tofu:

  • 16 oz extra firm tofu

  • 4 tablespoons soy sauce

  • 3 tablespoons rice vinegar

  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup

  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil

  • 2 cloves garlic, minced

  • 1 tablespoons freshly grated ginger, or ½ teaspoon dried ground ginger

  • 2-3 tablespoons neutral oil for frying

Cut the tofu into cubes, place them evenly on a flat surface such as a clean towel, cover with a layer of paper towels, and place something heavy on them such as a baking sheet or books. Press like this for at least 15 minutes while you make the marinade


In a small bowl combine the soy sauce, vinegar, maple syrup, oil, garlic, and ginger.


Place the pressed tofu in a shallow dish and pour the marinade on top. Let it marinade for at least an hour or overnight.

In a large pan or cast iron skillet, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the tofu pieces in and let them cook until they are crispy on all sides. Once fully cooked, pour the remaining marinade on top and stir to coat. Serve with other sauteed vegetables such as broccoli or bok choy, some steamed rice, in a salad, or by itself!


*you can store leftovers in a covered container in the fridge for 3-4 days.


BBQ tofu:

  • 16 oz extra firm tofu

  • 1 ½ teaspoon paprika

  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin

  • 1 teaspoon chili powder

  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder

  • ½ teaspoon salt

  • ¼ teaspoon smoked paprika

  • ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper

  • 1 ½ tablespoons olive oil

  • ¼ cup barbecue sauce

Cut the tofu into cubes, place them evenly on a flat surface such as a clean towel, cover with a layer of paper towels, and place something heavy on them such as a baking sheet or books. Press like this for at least 15 minutes while you prepare the remaining ingredients.


Place the spices in a medium bowl and stir to combine. Add the tofu and gently stir them to evenly coat them in the spice mixture.


Heat the oil in a large pan over medium heat. Add the tofu pieces and cook them until they are crispy on all sides. Turn the heat off and add in the barbecue sauce. Stir to coat the tofu completely.


Serve with roasted vegetables, as a side dish, or enjoy them on their own.


*leftovers can be stored in a covered container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.



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