Ume Tofu Bites
These tofu bites are perfect for topping your salads, bowls, ramen, or stir-fried veggies. The soy milk is my favourite marinade base for tofu, it helps the sauce absorb and brown nicely, adding a little bit of extra flavour.
- 2 blocks firm tofu Tofu varies greatly from place to place. In this case we are looking for about 800-1000 grams of tofu that is firm- not soft/ silken tofu.
- 2 tablespoons umeboshi paste
- 1/2 cup soy milk
- 1/4 cup tamari
- 1/4 cup rice vinegar cider or wine vinegar would work here, too
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
- optional: finely grated garlic and/or ginger, up to about a tablespoon of each
Preheat the oven to about 425 °F, with heat coming from the top/ broiler if possible. If your oven doesn't have precise measurements for broiler heat, use the "high" setting if possible. Place your oven rack about 1/3 of the way down from the top of the oven, so it is near the broiler heat. You want it to be about 6 inches away from the heat source in most ovens.
Cube the tofu into about 1-inch cubes.
In a small bowl, carefully smoosh the ume paste into the soy milk, pressing it against the side of the bowl with the back of your spoon to ensure it dissolves evenly. Add all the remaining ingredients and stir.
On a large foil-lined, rimmed baking sheet, add all the tofu at once and drizzle with all of the marinade. Toss it all together with your hands and press the tofu evenly across the baking sheet in a single layer if possible, careful not to tear the foil to avoid washing unnecessary dishes. See the recipe notes below for an alternative to using your hands if you like.
Bake the tofu under the hot broiler until golden (or after about ten minutes), then stir gently to get the other side golden as well. If your tofu isn't golden at the 10-minute mark, increase the heat or move the rack closer to the broiler. It is ready when the tofu is browning in some places, golden all over, and the marinade is almost completely cooked away. The browned bits at the bottom of the pan are delicious, so try and scrape them out of the pan with the tofu bites when you are serving them. Store in the fridge in an airtight container for about 7 days.
You can find umeboshi paste in most grocery stores in the Japanese section, it is also readily available online. Be sure to get paste and not whole ume or ume vingegar. If you can only get whole ume, use only 1 tablespoon, and mash it into a paste with a little water before proceeding with the recipe.
For this recipe, instead of tossing the tofu with your hands you could use a large spoon if you really prefer not to get your hands dirty, but it takes a lot longer if you're mixing it on the baking sheet. If you know you have sensory aversions, go ahead and make the marinade in a large bowl instead, adding the tofu directly to the marinade in the bowl and stirring with a spoon. Alternately, keep a pair of washable rubber or silicone gloves aside for food use only (pick a different colour than your washing gloves!) and wear them when needed to avoid getting your hands dirty, washing them with soap just like you would wash your hands normally to avoid getting them wet inside.