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Tofu Cooking Step by Step for Adventure Picnicking and Camping

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If you are just starting to experiment with tofu and have had some lackluster results, the step by step method below should give you some some confidence for both at-home and out-on-the-trail tofu preparation.  

Nasoyo Extra Firm Tofu is a fairly common brand that is good quality and will give you good results.
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Nasoyo Extra Firm Tofu is a fairly common brand that is good quality and will give you good results.

Tofu is a phenomenal food that unfortunately has not garnered widespread appreciation outside of vegetarian and vegan circles, but the truth is that it has many qualities that make it ideal for adventure picnicking, overnight paddle and bike trips, and car camping. Tofu can easy last a day or two without refrigeration and it is adaptable to nearly any style of cuisine.

The key to cooking tofu for adventure picnics and camping trips is to bake it ahead of time, freeze it, then pan fry it while you are at your destination. Because Tofu can keep at room temperature for a day or two, there is no worry about it spoiling if it thaws while you are en route.

The recipe associated with the steps below is geared towards ingredients that can be found in practically any grocery store. There end result will be a tasty tofu sausage, but keep in mind that you can substitute any of the spices and seasonings and tofu is a great canvass for culinary experimentation.

Just remember that it is pretty difficult to over spice or over cook tofu. Once you get the hang of it you will be pretty fearless and almost always have excellent results.

Easy Tofu Sausage

Ingredients:

Extra Firm Tofu – 14 oz when drained.
Olive Oil
Garlic Powder
Cumin
Fennel Seeds
Salt
Pepper
Any additional spices you like. (A healthy dash of Everglades Seasoning is excellent!)

At Home Preparation – Days Before Your Trip

Step 1: Drain the Tofu

A handy way to drain the water from the package and press out some of the water from the tofu without making too much of a mess is to cut around the edges of the plastic sheet covering the tofu. Do this over the sink as water will almost certainly gush out. Keeping the sheet in place, tip the container over allowing it to completely drain. Press firmly against the plastic sheet to press out additional water from the tofu.  

A quick and easy way to both drain and press out a bit of the water from the tofu is to press it in the package it came in.
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A quick and easy way to both drain and press out a bit of the water from the tofu is to press it in the package it came in.

Step 2: Press the Tofu

A super simple way to remove more water from the tofu is to wrap it in paper towel or a clean dish rag and push firmly against a hard surface. You can use a plate or other flat object to apply more even pressure and keep the tofu from breaking apart. You are not trying to crush the tofu, but rather allow additional water to be pressed out.

Wrapping the tofu in paper towel and gently pressing repeatedly by hand is a great way to lesson cook times and improve the texture.
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Wrapping the tofu in paper towel and gently pressing repeatedly by hand is a great way to lesson cook times and improve the texture.

Step 3: Slice the Tofu

For best results for this sausage recipe, we recommend slicing the tofu lengthwise and crosswise creating squares of ½ to ¾ of an inch across the top of the tofu block. The depth should be left intact, leaving elongated square-shaped morsels.

Step 4: Spice Things Up

The plastic container the tofu came in is an ideal dusting tray for seasoning your tofu. Dry the tray out and then shake out a liberal dose of garlic powder, cumin, fennel seeds, salt, pepper, and whatever other spices or seasoning you wish to use. Drop a few tofu pieces into the tray and shake it a bit. Once each piece is thoroughly covered in seasonings, remove it and place it in the oiled cooking pan.

The package the tofu came in makes a great container to dust the tofu with the seasonings and spices of your choice.
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The package the tofu came in makes a great container to dust the tofu with the seasonings and spices of your choice.

Step 5: Prepare for Baking

Apply a thin coat of olive oil to a baking sheet pan and preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. A cast iron skillet is also an excellent choice and many tofu aficionados prefer them because they can be moved right to the stove top and used to fry the tofu. Our personal tofu skillet of choice is the Lodge 12 Inch Carbon Steal Skillet. It’s light weight and durability for home or campfire make it hard to beat. Because we will only be baking the tofu at home for this recipe, however, a cookie sheet or baking pan is perfectly fine, but down the road, a good cast iron or carbon steel skillet is worth considering.

Cast iron and carbon steel skillets are phenomenal for cooking tofu as they can be used as both a baked pan and a stove top frying pan.
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Cast iron and carbon steel skillets are phenomenal for cooking tofu as they can be used as both a baked pan and a stove top frying pan.

Step 6: Bake the Tofu

Put the tofu in the oven and bake for 30 to 45 mins. Remove the tofu form the oven occasionally to check on it and turn each piece to ensure even cooking. When the tofu is done, it should be very firm with a crispy, golden brown texture. Tofu is very forgiving about over cooking – don’t feel the need to check on it every few minutes. When you are happy that it is sufficiently baked, remove from the oven and let cool on the stove top.

After baking the tofu should be a crispy, golden brown.
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After baking the tofu should be a crispy, golden brown.

Step 7: Freeze the Tofu

Put the tofu pieces in a quart sized freezer bag and toss in the freezer until you are ready to pack for your adventure. It can be handy to cook several batches of tofu at once and stack the bags in the freezer for multiple trips. Tofu keeps very well when frozen and some even say freezing adds to the texture!

Once the tofu has cooled, place in a freezer bag and freeze until needed.
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Once the tofu has cooled, place in a freezer bag and freeze until needed.

Step 8: Packing the Tofu for Your Adventure

Tofu is perfectly fine at room temperature for upwards to a two days, so don’t worry too much about keeping it cool. You can either throw the package of frozen tofu right into your pack or put it in a cooler if you are going to be on an overnight trip.

Final Cooking at Your Destination

Step 9: Pan fry the tofu

Because the tofu is already cooked, you will simply be reheating it and crisping it up a little. Whether you are on a campfire or camp stove, pour a small amount of olive oil in the pan and fry the tofu until the inside is hot.

Step 10: Enjoy!

Tofu sausage is awesome served over a bed of pasta and dusted with Parmesan cheese. To add some veggies to your meal, simply fry them in the pan you fried the tofu in. No need to clean the pan, just add a bit more oil if necessary. 

Tofu is a delicious and nutritious protein alternative that is ideal for adventure picnicking, overnight paddle and bike trips, and car camping.
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Tofu is a delicious and nutritious protein alternative that is ideal for adventure picnicking, overnight paddle and bike trips, and car camping.
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