Sous Vide Barbecue Tofu with Caramelized Onions


Carolyn Jung is a James Beard Award-winning Bay Area food journalist, whose work has appeared in the San Francisco Chronicle, Every Day with Rachael Ray, Coastal Living, Via magazine, Food Arts, Edible Silicon Valley, Wine Spectator and other publications. She is the fo ...

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One of the joys of cooking – besides getting to eat your efforts – is the act of discovery. Case in point: Try Googling sous vide tofu and results are scarce. If you’re like me, you take that as a personal challenge to give it a go. After all, aside from its subtle soybean-y taste, tofu is pretty bland, though it has the wonderful ability to absorb the taste of whatever you cook it in. As such, I wondered if using a precision cooker would allow the tofu to absorb even more flavor. The answer? Yes and no. After cooking the tofu sous vide with barbecue sauce, it wasn’t necessarily infused through and through to its center, but the exterior definitely picked up the smoky-sweet-piquant barbecue flavor. Best yet, the tofu texture changed. Firm or extra firm tofu is often a bit grainy. But after cooking it sous vide, the tofu was far creamier while still remaining firm and slightly meaty in consistency. Sweet caramelized onions are the perfect accompaniment to this vegetarian-take on barbecue. Serve with some roasted potatoes or your favorite greens. Or tuck the tofu and onions into a soft roll.
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Ingredients for 2

  • 1 (14-ounce) package firm or extra-firm tofu

  • 1/3 cup barbecue sauce

  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter

  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

  • 1 large yellow onion, thinly sliced

  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper


  • Step 1

    Drain the block of tofu and slice into six planks. Line a sheet pan with a lint-free kitchen towel or two layers of paper towels. Set the slices of tofu in a single row on top. Place another towel or another set of paper towels on top of the tofu. Set another sheet pan on top and weight it down with some cans. Press the tofu for about 30 minutes to extract extra moisture.

  • Step 2

    Meanwhile, Set the Anova Sous Vide Precision Cooker to 179.6ºF (82ºC).

  • Step 3

    Remove tofu from the sheet pan and place in single layer in a large zipper lock or vacuum seal bag. Add the barbecue sauce. Seal using the water immersion technique or a vacuum sealer on the moist setting.

  • Step 4

    Place the bag in the water bath and set the timer for 2 hours.

  • Step 5

    About 30 minutes before the tofu is finished, prepare the caramelized onions: Melt the butter with the olive oil in a saute pan over medium heat. When butter has stopped foaming, add the onions and cook, stirring frequently, until soft and almost jammy in consistency, about 20 minutes. You may have to turn down the heat if the onions start to darken too quickly. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

    • Finishing Steps

    • Step 0

      When the timer goes off, remove the bag from the water bath. Remove the tofu from the bag. Reserve the cooking liquid. Heat a broiler to high.

    • Step 1

      Place the tofu on a baking sheet and broil until golden, about 4 minutes.

    • Step 2

      Place the onions in the center of a serving plate. Top with the tofu. Drizzle some of the reserved cooking liquid over the tofu. Serve.

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179.6 F / 82 C Recipe Temp
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