This teriyaki tofu is a west coast take on a Japanese classic. It comes together in just minutes, making it a wonderful dinner to feed a family.
There is very little about this dish that is authentic to traditional Japanese teriyaki. Instead, this version takes it's origins in the west coast, back to the land, health food hippies of the 70's—in my case, the people I grew up around.
Back to the land hippies cherry picked vegetarian food from all walks of cultures. They loved Mexican food, Turkish and Greek food, North Indian dishes, and of course, Japanese food and tofu.
What is Teriyaki
Teriyaki is a Japanese technique used for meat, mostly fish, and sometimes even burgers. In the west, it is often used for both white and red meat like chicken and pork.
The word teriyaki can be broken down into its two components—teri (the shine given by the sweet sauce) and yaki ( the method of cooking). In North America, however, the work has been used to describe any dish made with a teriyaki-like sauce.
This version is heavily influence by the original, but uses tofu instead of animal protein, and is cooked on the stove top instead of on grill or under a broiler. I've also added both chili flakes and garlic (which are not authentic) and omitted mirin in exchange for a little molasses.
- extra firm or pressed tofu
- tamari or soy sauce
- ginger juice
- cane sugar
- red pepper flakes
- avocado or cooking oil
Begin by making the sauce. Simply combine all the ingredients in a small bowl and set aside.
Next, slice your tofu—I am partial to cutting it into 1 cm (about 1/2 inch) thick slices, but cubes or triangles could be nice.
Add a little oil to your pan (I love to use a cast iron pan for this recipe) and fry the tofu on both sides until it is golden, about 5-7 minutes.
One your tofu is crisp, add the teriyaki sauce and let it bubble until it becomes sticky and syrupy, about 2-3 minutes.
Tips + Notes
- I like to use extra firm tofu in this teriyaki tofu recipe because it holds up to the frying. You can also use pressed tofu if you can find it.
- If you don't want to make your own ginger juice, look for some in health food stores. There is a note in the recipe on how to make your own ginger juice.
- I like to serve teriyaki tofu rice or another grain, some greens like broccoli, and lots of green onion and seeds. It is also great on it's own or as a side to a noodle salad.
- Since molasses is very sticky, it is best to grease your measuring spoons lightly for a quick release.
- The teriyaki sauce can be made up to a week ahead and stored in the fridge for a super quick supper.
- If you don't want any added oil in your finish dish, remove the fried tofu from the pan and drain out any remaining oil before adding the sauce.
- to make this teriyaki tofu gluten free look for gluten free soy tamari.
- if you don't eat soy, try using this sauce on pan fried eggplant, broccoli, or a chickpea / lentil tempeh.
- I haven't tried using any sugar alternatives here, but I don't think they'd have the same stickiness that cane sugar has. Other sugars like coconut will also be too flavourful.
- ¼ cup water
- ¼ cup tamari or soy sauce
- 1 ½ tsp. molasses
- 2 tbsp. ginger juice*
- 1 ½ tbsp. cane sugar
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- ½-1 tsp. red pepper flakes (depends on how much spice you like)
- 1-350 block extra firm or pressed tofu
- 1-2 tbsp. avocado oil
- Begin by making your sauce. Combine the water, soy, molasses, ginger juice, sugar, garlic, and red pepper flakes in a small bowl and set aside.
- Slice the tofu into desired shapes.
- Next, heat a large frying pan to medium heat. Once hot, add the oil. Start with 1 tbsp. and add more as needed. How much oil you'll needed will depend on the pan you are using.
- Place the tofu in the pan so that all the pieces are in contact with the pan and can crisp up. If your pan is too small, you may have to fry them in two rounds.
- Cook until lightly golden, about 3-5 minutes, then flip and cook on the other side until golden, another 3-5 minutes.
- Once the tofu is golden as crisp you can pour in the sauce and turn down the heat to medium low.
- Let the sauce bubble and simmer for about 2 minutes or until it thickens and becomes a glaze, then remove the pan from the heat and serve.
*making ginger juice is easy! Just grate a large chunk of peeled ginger into a bowl using a small grater or microplane. After you have grated a good amount, pick up the grated ginger and squeeze it so that only the juice falls back into the bowl, leaving the pulp. Discard the fibrous pulp.
This recipe is adapted from Green Cuisine.