Welcome to Never Fail, a weekly column where we wax poetic about the recipes that never, ever let us down.
In theory, working at a food magazine should mean that my fridge is always fully stocked with peak-season produce and every night is a parade of beautiful, thoughtful meals. In reality, making dinner most nights feels like an off-brand version of Chopped in which I spend a lot of time gazing into my fridge, then just end up throwing a bunch of things in a bowl. But even on the darkest fridge days (a.k.a. rent week), I can rely on this crispy tofu to come through.
Stop! If you’re an avowed tofu hater, don’t you dare close this tab. This recipe will turn you—I’ve seen it before. I’ll admit that, in the wrong hands, tofu can be bland and stodgy. But this tofu is crispy and chewy, with a custard-y interior and hugely flavorful maple-soy glaze. What’s not to love?
I would be embarrassed about how often I’ve made this recipe since it debuted on Healthyish last February, but senior food editor Chris Morocco is a genius so I have no shame. It’s been in heavy rotation for months because all of the key ingredients—maple syrup, soy sauce, rice vinegar, tofu—are pantry staples for me. If tofu hasn’t earned a permanent place on your grocery list, this recipe offers a compelling reason. It’s affordable, keeps unopened in the fridge for weeks, and becomes crispy and delicious under that maple-soy glaze. And, like Rihanna, it will bless anything it touches.
About that glaze: It’s not as scary as you think. It’s a simple mix of ginger, soy sauce, rice vinegar, maple syrup, and mild chile flakes, which bastes crispy browned tofu until reduced in a sticky, delicious sauce. It delivers takeout-joint level satisfaction, but can be totally accomplished in your PJs at home.
Really, the best thing about this tofu treatment is how versatile it is. I tend to follow a simple formula: tofu + grains + vegetables. Think white rice or even soba noodles, shaved daikon or crunchy Persian cucumbers. I’ve used this crispy tofu to round out a rice bowl with sautéed mushrooms and gomae, but you can’t really go wrong here. Just don’t forget the sliced scallions, which are a must—they’ll tie together any fridge scraps into a next-level tofu bowl you’ll be stoked to eat any day.
Get your glaze on: