In the Western world, tofu is still the food of hippies that wear flowers in their hair, do not shave their legs and chant around camp fires until dawn breaks. It's a funny thing because tofu is a staple item of the super-cool Japanese diet which is finally breaking into print these days and nobody imagines the Japanese as hippies with flowers in their hair, chanting around camp fires until dawn. I am sure some of them must have done so in due course but I am equally certain that their legs must have been well shaven. You just cannot imagine the Japanese to be anything less than lacquer-like groomed, like a black, mirror-like rice bowl. I must have been Japanese in another life, not because of the grooming, but because of my passion for tofu which, unsurprisingly, was fired up at university, when I used to live with a Japanese girl.
I am not here to take the violins out and yak about tofu's great culinary merits; at least not today. What I am here for is to give you a super-quick recipe for some fabulous tofu croutons I mentioned in passing some time ago, as I was writing about soup. Bread croutons go soggy, while tofu croutons do not. They are mess-free to make and taste fabulous. You'll need:
one pack of firm tofu (which, in short, means not silken tofu)
Drain the tofu well and press away all water with a tea towel or equivalent. Warm the grill on high as you cut the tofu in strips approximately 5 mm thick. Place all of these on a baking sheet and then proceed to add the sesame oil, one or two drops at a time per piece. Splash soy sauce all over and place under the grill for a good 15 minutes, or until you see the tofu nicely brown and dry. At this stage you will need to check it; tofu as a habit of looking done when it is still moist.
If you intend on eating it like this, switch off and go for it, but if you want it very crisp so that you can add it to your soup as croutons, continue to grill until it dries out completely. You may wish to turn it but it is not necessary because the soy sauce underneath it will coat both sides. If you can peel off the tofu from the baking sheet and it feels and sounds crunchy, it's ready. Leave it to dry out for a good ten minutes and add to the soup when you are ready to serve. Tasty, super-low-fat and not at all drenched in oil like in some Chinese fried dishes. Oh, and not a camp fire on sight either!