Tofu Marinade Recipe.
It’s not just for patchouli scented hippies anymore.

When I was around 14 I decided I was going to become a vegetarian.

If you have kids I’m sure you’re familiar with the “vegetarian” epiphany.  Every 14 year old is pretty sure they’ve come up with the idea that eating meat is archaic and all living things deserve to be revered not roasted.

I spewed my thoughts in the idealistic, pompous and patronizing way that only a 14 year old girl in brand new Topsiders can muster up.

So off I went to the local health food store.  I came back home with the ingredients for vegetarian chili.  From what I remember it was some sort of spongey meat substitute that came in a cardboard box.  It had the uncanny ability to both resemble and taste like silly putty, without actually being silly putty.

I cooked it.  I ate it.  I quietly hated it.  I did not become a vegetarian.

Things have improved greatly on the vegetarian cooking front since then.  And even though I’m not even close to being a vegetarian I try to make sure we eat at least one meal a week that doesn’t include any meat.

Sometimes that involves the dreaded tofu. I happen to like tofu because it takes on the taste of whatever you marinate it in. It took me a couple of years to figure out a marinade I really liked for it.

And this is it.



Red Wine Vinegar








Unseasoned Rice Vinegar



Toasted Sesame Oil



Tamari Soy Sauce











Allow your tofu to drain a little bit and then pat dry.

I like to cut off the outside “skin” of the tofu to make it easier for the tofu to absorb the marinade.

Cut your tofu into bite sized pieces.  I always use extra-firm tofu.


Set tofu in marinade for 1-2 hours, making sure tofu is covered with Saran Wrap to keep it from drying out.


Print Recipe
5 from 1 vote

Tofu Marinade

Because tofu isn't just for dirty hippies anymore.
Servings: 1 block
Author: Karen


  • 3 tbsp Tamari Soy Sauce
  • 3 tbsp Sesame Oil (toasted sesame oil)
  • 2 tbsp Red Wine Vinegar
  • 2 tbsp Rice Vinegar Unseasoned


  • Mix all the ingredients together well.
  • Chop tofu into bite sized pieces and marinate for at least 1 hour.

If the marinade doesn’t completely cover up the tofu I stir it every so often over the time it is marinating.

I usually add this tofu to some brown rice and top it with bean sprouts and peanut sauce. More on that particular recipe at a later date.

If you don’t like the texture of tofu, don’t try this recipe. If you don’t like the basic taste of tofu, don’t try this recipe. If you don’t like the look of tofu, don’t try this recipe. You either like tofu or you don’t.

I’m not going to look down on you, chastise you or preach to you if you don’t want to eat tofu.

Because I’m not 14 anymore.


  1. Shannon says:

    I am a ex veggo tofu hater. That’s probably why I am an ex veggo.

    I was late on the vegetarian front. I declared my new found vegetarianism after my dad brought home 2 bass to release into the dam & when he realised one of them had died in transit he declared we should “just kill the other one too & have some lunch”

    something inside me snapped.

    I trudged 2km in the pouring rain (uncontrollably sobbing) through the muddy paddocks carrying the heavy esky containing the remaining live bass to let him free into the dam & didn’t eat meat for 4 years.

    I think Dad still feels bad about it! Alas, I like steak so it didn’t last.

    I do however make a pretty awesome tofu cheesecake. So awesome in fact it tricks even me into thinking it might be cheese & not some creepy bean curd.

    • Shannon says:

      Crap..forgot to mention I was 17..not 14

    • mothership says:

      OMG…. my daughter turned vegetarian because of a fish…. the girls went fishing with dad… & she caught a fish…. then decided she didn’t want to “eat her friend”… I, ever so practical, said “it’s already dead… might as well eat it!”
      the sobbing… the drama… she did not eat meat for 2 years… oh… she was only 11… an early bloomer. She went on to omnivore status ages 13-22, but now she is a VEGAN (& you would think she was- “um… like 14”,complete w/ that head toss thing, if you were a meat eater in our household). Luckily, she is now a 23 yr old back to living w/ mums, so she cannot condemn us too much!

      • mothership says:

        Oh, & forgot to mention, Vegan Girl (hubby is called “BBQ King” & I am “Condiment Queen”.. what can I say?) does NOT EAT TOFU! & she will no longer eat the fab roasted bell peppers, or the eggplant roasted for baba ganoush, that are cooked on the evil meat bbq, sad… if she was, say 14, I would invest in a meat free bbq… but at 23…. hmmmm.

        • Karen says:

          Hmm. I don’t have kids, so this could be the wrong response, but when she starts to protest I’d gag her with a tenderloin. No I wouldn’t. Too expensive. Use an Eye of the Round.

        • mothership says:

          heee heee heee…. yes we will not waste expensive cuts of meat on vegan girl (or “chick” as she was called this evening, as she nonchalantly watched us feed Kitty, our pet snake… “but that’s NATURAL mom”)….. OMG! just noticed… is “gag her w/ a tenderloin” similar to “gag me w/ a spoon”???? are you “old” like me??? U do not look it!!

  2. Rebecca says:

    Pie = good, whipped cream = good, tofu = bad. Very, very bad!
    I had a roommate who was always trying to sneak that crap into our meals, and he was never once successful. I can taste/feel that stuff a mile away. I’m like a drug-sniffer dog. It’s not a very marketable talent, but hey, it’s all I got!

  3. Leah says:

    i make a very similar marinade for tofu, but i get a little crazy and add grated ginger and cilantro too. sauteed with the spare liquid in a wok with fresh veggies and some red pepper flakes and olive oil = yummmm!

  4. Alexandra Dare says:

    I’m not sure how I feel about tofu. I know it tastes good in egg drop soup, but at the same time I look at it and I’m like, what IS it? I know it’s made with soy, but still, what IS it? It’s the thought that creeps me out, not the actual tofu.

    Btw, one of my best friends stopped eating meat when she was little. And she stayed a vegetarian for a reeeaally long time. Then one day she wanted to try some meat. She found out (with vomit) that she couldn’t actually process meat anymore. There’s an enzyme or something that her body stopped producing when she became a vegetarian, and now she can’t digest meat properly. So be thankful you got out when you did 🙂

    -Alexandra Dare

  5. Laurel says:

    Yum! Yay! I always buy expensive marinades at the store, but I have everything I need to make this marinade. I hope, despite the tofu haters, you’ll post the peanut sauce recipe soon because the meal sounds delish!

  6. I do something similar to this, but sub sake for the red wine vinegar, plus add in some ginger and garlic. It’s a perfect stir-fry/marinade for all sorts of stuff. Also, press the tofu (slice in half lengthwise, wrap in paper towel, then a for-reals towel, place between two hard surfaces with some weight on top for ~20-60 min) for super absorbent tofu. Also, it makes it easier to work with, since it’s denser.

    I was a 14 year old declarer, as well. 20 years later, it’s still in force. Oddly enough, I’ve never been super-PETA or anything about it, just kind of low-key “more vegetables will be fine, no, really, it’s ok” kinda girl.

  7. Also, check out seitan. It’s the prince of dar..I mean, of meat alternatives. While I haven’t had much luck with making it, West Soy brand is pretty fantastic. Browned in butter and used instead of beef in a stroganoff, or in a philly cheese seitan, mmmmmmm. As much makes it into the recipes as it does into my sneaky, “cook’s privilege” face.

  8. Oona says:

    I don’t mind tofu. Depending on the recipe I actually like it. But my fiance can sense any and all non-meat products snuck into his food. He can even tell when chili/lasagna is only half cow and the other half turkey.

  9. I eat a mostly plant-based diet and although I actually like tofu, given the right seasonings (although it has to be the extra-firm variety – can’t stand the slimy, slithery softer stuff unless it is blended into something unrecognizable as a dairy substitute)I have to say you don’t have to eat it at all to be vegetarian. I often use similar ingredients to your marinade on my tofu and bake it. Lately I tend to prefer more beans, grains, nuts and vegetables than processed foods like tofu. I sometimes like to make something really yummy that fools the most avid haters of tofu and tell them after the fact what they were really imbibing 🙂

  10. Susan V says:

    This is a stupid question, but you simply add the tofu to the rice?
    You don’t stir fry the tofu at all? You don’t want to make the edges browned and crispy at all?

    It sounds like a great mixture of vinegars and oils. I’m going to try it!

  11. Katrina says:

    Mmmm! I looooove tofu!

  12. Carol says:

    Great, now I’m craving a Ninja bowl from Fresh, where I always order the tofu cubes deep fried….sooooo good.

  13. JennC says:

    Great recipe – I’ll have to try it! A few years ago I learned the secret of marinating in plastic zip-top baggies; you can squeegee all the air out, and to ensure even coating, you just flip the bag over from time to time. Takes up less room in the fridge too!

  14. JennC says:

    Although I should note that your pictures looked quite lovely. I don’t think a plastic baggie would have been quite the same.

  15. Angela says:

    Sounds delish Karen! I will try it 🙂 I love tofu. My daughter had that ephiphany at 11 and she is now 15 and still a vegetarian. I mostly cook vegetarian. One of my favorite things to do in the kitchen is figure out ways to make veggie meals tasty & delicious.

    Here is a trick I have come up with. Freeze your tofu. It makes it firmer and completely changes the texture. It takes away the dense scrambled egg texture & replaces it with a spongier texture that REALLY soaks up the flavor of what ever you are cooking.

    I, like you, enjoy the best of both worlds. I love a good veggie meal just as much as a meaty meat meat one. Except for maybe prime rib, that wins EVERY time over tofu. Awesome blog LOVE it!

  16. Janelle says:

    I was considering doing a veggie night once a week and you have given me the inspirational nudge I needed…but I won’t be making tofu. I try not to even think about tofu. In fact, when I saw the picture on this post, I had to pretend it was little cubes of vanilla fudge, just to keep my dinner down.
    You regularly educate me and make me want to hurl and cause me to laugh coffee/wine out of my nose all at the same time and for that I thank you.

    • Karen says:

      You should! One night a week is easey. My boyfriend is threatening to do a meatless month. October is obviously ruled out because of Thanksgiving Turkey, December is Christmas, January always has good seafood sales, February is Valentine’s day which means steaks, March is Easter isn’t it? Ham, ham, ham … April is just when weather is getting nice enough to BBQ every night … Hmm. Doesn’t look like it’s gonna work out.

  17. Janelle says:

    Never thought of Valentine’s Day as a big “meat holiday”, but okay! Meatless wouldn’t be hard, but meatless and healthy would be difficult for me. I would substitute bonbons and french fries for meat, thereby nullifying any health benefits of foregoing meat. “Come over for a veggie dinner, we’re having doughnuts and fettuccine alfredo”.

  18. Stefanie says:

    I make pretty much the same marinated tofu recipe, except I always stick mine in the freezer first. If you stick extra-firm tofu in the freezer and then thaw it (before marinating), it ends up with an even firmer, meatier kind of texture.

    Also, to all you self proclaimed tofu haters? Try it grilled. Yum!

  19. Patti says:

    Haha! I love tofu, it really is great!

    Another meatless AWESOME thing is Yves Veggie Ground Round. Have you people tried it? I lb of Veggie Ground Round (which is mostly soy protein) is equal to 1.5 lbs of ground beef, and, although high in sodium, unfortunately, is a way healthier alternative to ground beef. And my carnivore of a boyfriend loves it! The trick is to go with the ‘ORIGINAL” flavour.

    It’s amazing, amazing in spaghetti, chili, tacos and lasagna. Awesome, awesome, awesome.

    I’m not a vegetarian, but I had similar fish experiences, not to mention a documentary that was part of my grade 7 curriculum, which has lead me to not eat fish since grade 7. Or seafood. And then my boyfriend worked at a meat market as a butcher’s assistant for a while in my teens so I pretty much stick to chicken and turkey, but there are lots of meatless meals around my house. And who’re we kidding? Meat’s freaking expensive and I’m cheap!

    Last time I ate a burger I woke up at 4am and was sick to my stomach. My tummy isn’t used to beef anymore!

    • Angela says:

      Enchiladas!! They are SO good with the Yves ground round. I always sautee with onions, green peppers, & garlic then mix in a little ench sauce. Mmmmmm.

  20. Anemone says:

    wowowowow. I love this. I do love Tofu.

    Most of all I love it scrambled and also fried as strips to put in sushi together with other vegetables. And yes, I will try your recipe with rice. Loooks great.

  21. Zina says:

    I’m Chinese American. I didn’t know tofu was an option. I’ll eat it raw, I’ll eat it marinated, I’ll eat it any way…but not deep fried. I don’t know why. I just don’t really like deep fried tofu.

    My partner’s nieces decided they were vegetarian at 13, yup. Unfortunately, they don’t like vegetables. I’m not sure how you manage that, and I’m really not sure at all how they’ve managed to stay so thin, because, insofar as I can see, they mainly subsist on chips/French fries, fruit, bread, and maybe some kinds of cheese. One has started liking carrots, though.

  22. Kathy says:

    Have you posted the whole recipe for the Buddha Bowl? If not, would you? I’m sure I could manage the brown basmati rice and broccoli myself, but am at a las for the spicy peanut sauce. Thanks! BTW…love your blog and check it daily to see if you’ve posted something new.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Kathy thanks! I post every day so chances are … there’s always gonna be something new. 🙂 (no post Sundays). I’ve made a few spicy sauces, but in truth I’ve found bottled stuff that I actually prefer to my homemade. Odd, but true. However, it’s a Canadian brand, “President’s Choice”. Memories of Szechwan peanut sauce. If I happen upon a really good sauce I’ll let you know. ~ karen! OH! And no broccoli in Buddha Bowl … just bean sprouts. But I spose you could add broccoli if you wanted, LOL. ~ karen

  23. Sandy says:

    Karen, I have never had a Buddha Bowl and would SO LOVE to try this! It sounds amazing. Could you please, please, Please! blog it or email it! I have been looking for other ways to enjoy tofu other than scrambles. ~ Sandy

  24. Lynn says:

    I also do a very similar marinade and often I will take said marinated tofu, roll it in nutritional yeast, place on a lightly sprayed baking sheet and bake. If you do it just right, it is slightly crisp. If you do it a bit too long it takes on a jerky sort of texture (which is good too). The trick is to not let anyone in my house know there is marinating tofu in the fridge – they all ‘sneak’ a piece and there’s not enough for dinner!

  25. Sarah says:

    I just had the Buddha Bowl at Fresh last week and I was so curious about how they marinate their tofu so this is pretty perfect timing for this post! My family is pretty close to obsessed with the Memories of Szechwan sauce and I can’t wait to try and make a Buddha Bowl at home. I’m choosing soba noodles instead of the rice though!

    • Karen says:

      Sarah – What’s funny is I’ve only had the *real* Buddha Bowl at Fresh a couple of times and my *own* version about 100X. Hope you like it. I think it’s a pretty good facsimile. ~ karen!

      • Deb J. says:


        I think we might be kinda stalkers. Sarah is my daughter – she made your valentine tarts in her toaster oven in her basement apartment last year. We both follow your blog pretty much every day.. And we talk about you like you’re family – or at least good friend. Good stuff. I am not a joiner – Sarah follows lots of stuff but. You make us keep up. Keep up the good work. We will cheer. And happy second bday. Btw I got a rolling pin from pei for Christmas. Almost worth sleeping with. Love it,

  26. Ruth says:

    It’s interesting that I am just seeing this…

    In order to have my tofu soak up marinades, I make the cuts I need ahead of time and freeze them. When thawed, the tofu then looks like sponge (hole-y?) and much of the moisture depart, leaving lots of room for the marinade. Once ‘marinade uptake’ takes place, the spongy appearance disappears and I’m in business. 😉

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