February 15, 2021

A tofu guide for beginners: Grilled Tofu Steaks with Nutty Carrot Salad

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Don’t avoid tofu just because you don’t know what to do with it. Start with this grilled tofu steak recipe.

If you are trying to add more meatless recipes to your diet, consider tofu. It’s easy to use and very versatile because it takes on the flavor of whatever it is seasoned with. Grilled tofu steaks are a great meat substitute.

Tofu, also known as bean curd, is made from an extract of soybeans. It has no cholesterol, is relatively low in calories and sodium, and contains lots of healthy, unsaturated fat. It is also rich in plant estrogens, which are associated with heart and bone health. Tofu also has a generous 9 grams of lean protein per 3 ounces, so if you are trying to manage your weight, it will keep you full longer. It’s also a great option for vegans and vegetarians looking for alternates to meat-based proteins.

Besides a healthy dose of protein, tofu delivers many other nutrients. For example, the grilled tofu steak recipe below provides much of the nutrition an adult needs daily, including:

• 161% of vitamin A
• 113% of the recommended daily amount of calcium
• 45.1% of copper
• 18.1% of folate
• 105.9% of manganese
• 29.6% of iron
• 42.3% of selenium
• 21.7% of thiamin
• 22.5% of zinc

Pick the right type of tofu

Tofu comes in several varieties and you can find it in the refrigerator section at the grocery store. Choose based on what you are going to use it for:

Silken tofu. This is best for dishes where you want creaminess, such as smoothies, dips and desserts.
Medium regular tofu. A denser option than the silken type. It works well in soups.
Firm regular tofu. Try this as a substitute for soft cheese, such as ricotta, in lasagna; crumbled in dishes like stir-fry; or used in place of ground beef in a recipe. It is firmer than medium tofu, but tends to break apart when cooked.
Extra-firm regular tofu. This holds its shape well, so it works for grilling (see recipe for Grilled Tofu Steaks with Nutty Carrot Salad, below) or for slicing or cubing.

Before using tofu, be sure to drain the liquid it’s packed in. Blot the tofu well on both sides with a paper towel to remove excess water before using.

A tofu guide for beginners: Grilled Tofu Steaks with Nutty Carrot Salad
Serves: 4 servings
Ingredients
  • Marinade:
  • ¼ cup fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons freshly grated ginger
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon Sriracha or other hot sauce
  • Salad:
  • 2 14-ounce packages extra firm tofu, drained
  • 2 cups shredded carrot
  • 1/3 cup chopped cashews
  • 1/3 cup finely chopped scallions
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon dark sesame oil
  • 1 teaspoon low-sodium soy sauce
Instructions
  1. Whisk the marinade ingredients in a mixing bowl.
  2. Cut each block of tofu across the width, then lengthwise into 4 pieces. Arrange the tofu slices on a platter or a rimmed dish and pour the marinade over it. Spoon the liquid over the tofu to coat all sides.
  3. Cover and refrigerate for a minimum of three hours, turning the tofu over a few times.
  4. Mix the rest of the salad ingredients together and set aside at room temperature. Or, if using the recipe at a later time, you can refrigerate the carrot salad.
  5. Heat the grill to high heat.
  6. Place the tofu steaks on a sheet of aluminum foil, directly on the grill rack. Save the marinade, to brush on the tofu as it is cooking.
  7. Grill the tofu steaks on high heat for 7 minutes, with the grill cover closed. Turn them over once.
  8. With a spatula, remove the tofu from the grill and transfer to individual plates or a platter.
  9. Top with the carrot salad and serve.
Serving size: 1/4 recipe | Calories: 303 | Fat: 20 grams | Saturated fat: 2.5 grams | Unsaturated fat: 9.5 grams | Trans fat: 0 | Carbohydrates: 19.3 grams | Sodium: 402 milligrams | Fiber: 3.8 grams | Protein: 15.8 grams |  Cholesterol: 0

Stacey Kendrick, MS, is a health educator with more than 20 years of experience in wellness and population health. She is a mother to two adult daughters. In her free time, she teaches healthy cooking classes, runs, gardens and enjoys backyard bonfires.