This simple tofu dish is proof that vegan dishes can definitely be tasty. Well, that's how it should be – going on a plant-based diet shouldn't come with giving up on the pleasure of eating as well.
I really enjoy working tofu into my recipes because of its very neutral taste, taking on any flavor that I'd like it to. That versatility makes it a perfect addition to most dishes ranging from soups, salads, main dishes, and even dessert. Furthermore, it can take on any texture you'd like – fry it crisp, braise it tender, or steam it silky.
We'll be braising our tofu for this recipe, so like most braised dishes, we'll start by giving it some good color by a quick pan-fry. This will create a crisp outer crust, while staying perfectly smooth and tender in the middle.
You'll most likely get your tofu submerged in some light liquid so be sure to pat it dry with some paper towels before getting it into the hot pan to avoid too much oil from splattering all over your kitchen. Also when searing them, leave them to develop a crust before trying to move them around in the pan or even trying to flip them to cook on the other side. They will stick a bit to the pan in the beginning, and trying to move them too soon would keep that good even crust from forming. Be patient, they'll come off really easy when they're ready.
While they're cooking in your pan, get the teriyaki sauce ready. Mix equal amounts of sugar, orange juice, and soy sauce in a bowl. Add in some grated ginger and some chopped scallions, and that's it. Sure you'll find tons of authentic recipes for Teriyaki sauce out there, but who says you can't create one out of flavors you fancy?
Start off with some soy sauce of course. Then put in something tangy – should it always be Japanese rice wine vinegar? Definitely not. I used freshly squeezed orange juice in mine. Go be creative.
Add some sweetness. Sugar, honey, maple syrup. . . I'm sure you'll come up with more ideas. This sugar will eventually caramelize and thicken your sauce too.
Lastly, throw in some aromatics – ginger, garlic, shallots, chili. . . any flavor you love, really.
Set the crusted tofu slices at the bottom of your slow cooker before adding in the Teriyaki sauce that you've prepared. This way, you'll get to add only the amount of liquid needed to barely get the tofu covered half way. You wouldn't want it fully submerged to keep that crispy top crust from getting soggy.
Set your cooker on a low heat setting and leave it for about 4 hours. If you've stuck to the measure of your ingredients to this recipe, that much cooking time should get the Teriyaki sauce slightly syrupy. You may reduce it further into a glaze in a saucepan over the stove.
Top it with more chopped scallions and your favorite chili sauce on the side.