One of my favorite foods of all time is tofu. Although tofu often gets a bad rap, it is extremely nutritious and versatile. It’s basically a blank canvas for whatever sauce and seasoning you want to add to it and is very high in protein. When it’s prepared the right way, it can be delicious to even the most biased carnivores. I was a vegetarian for about five years and during that time, I quickly became obsessed with all forms of tofu and decided to learn how to cook it myself.
Cooking tofu is not for the faint of heart. It’s a bit slimy and wet and smells funny when you first open the package. Plus, there’s a bit of a tofu learning curve as you have to know which variety of tofu you want to cook to achieve the desired consistency in your prepared dish. There’s the silken tofu variety, which is smooth and soft; perfect for cheesecakes, puddings, mousse, or soups, and then there’s the block refrigerated tofu which is used mostly for baked or fried dishes, like stir-fry’s, when you want the tofu to hold its shape and absorb delicious sauces. (This page gives more info on various tofu varieties.) But don’t be discouraged! I made a rookie tofu mistake once when I wanted firm, crispy baked tofu and despite my best efforts to bake it more and dry it out, it was silken tofu and firming it up was pretty much a lost cause. Eventually I learned the ways of tofu science, however, and the results have been delicious.
This recipe for BBQ tofu burritos is inspired by a burrito by the same name that I had at a local “burrito bar”. This is my go to junk food. If I get a craving for it, I have to have it immediately. But driving downtown and waiting patiently for it to be prepared isn’t always doable and I can’t justify spending money on take-out when I have two hands and a curious mind to recreate this dish myself!
The best part of this burrito is definitely the extra crispy-on-the-edges-soft-inside tofu. I’m pretty sure its deep fried at the restaurant and the result of course is phenomenal (as is all junk food..right?). It’s that combination of BBQ sauce-soaked crispy tofu, rice and beans, held together with melty, gooey cheese that is so addictive. Mmm, I’m getting hungry!
Anyway, after a couple of trials, I figured out how to satisfy my craving for this burrito without a deep fryer or a credit card. This recipe consists of extra firm block tofu that is coated in a spicy southwest dry-rub and baked to crispy perfection for about 30 minutes at 400°F. I then season some rice and black beans with a little of the remaining dry rub seasoning, coat the tofu in BBQ sauce thinned with a little water, and toss it all into a large rectangular Lavash bread (I love Joseph’s brand). I then top it with some cheese (mozzarella, provolone, or whatever type I have handy) and fold it into a burrito. Next, I toast it on the stove for a couple of minutes to crisp up the wrap and voila, my tofu dreams are made! This wrap it so delicious and unique if you’ve ever had BBQ tofu before you will be in heaven with this burrito. It tastes so similar to the restaurant version that I now crave my own version instead of the real deal! You can also eat the BBQ tofu out of a burrito, accompanied by some baked beans, corn, and roasted veggies. So for all you tofu skeptics out there, if you love BBQ, give this recipe a try and let me know how you like it!
Crispy BBQ Tofu Burrito
Makes 4-6 large burritos
• One 14 oz. package of Extra Firm (refrigerated) block tofu (I use Nasoya brand)
• 1 can of black beans (15 oz.)
• 1/4-1/2 cup rice (white or brown) uncooked
• 5-6 tsp. southwest dry rub seasoning (recipe below)
• 3 tbsp. cornstarch
• Your favorite BBQ sauce
• Sliced or shredded cheese (mozzarella, cheddar, pepper jack, etc.)
• Tortilla or wrap
Southwest dry-rub seasoning
• ½ tsp. salt
• 1 tbsp. onion powder
• 1 tbsp. smoked paprika
• ½ tbsp. ground cumin
• ½ tsp. ground black pepper
1. Remove tofu from its container and drain liquid. Place tofu block on a plate and wrap it in a paper towel. Put another plate over the tofu block and place a heavy weight on top of the second plate. This will remove excess water from tofu. Let tofu drain for about 1 hour, replacing soaked paper towel with a new dry one every 20 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, prepare dry rub by mixing onion powder, smoked paprika, cumin, salt, and black pepper. Mix about 5-6 tsp. of dry-rub seasoning with 3 tbsp. cornstarch and set aside. You will have some leftover dry-rub seasoning to season rice and beans with.
3. Cook rice in salted water or rice cooker. Drain and fluff cooked rice and mix with a drained and rinsed can of black beans. Season rice/beans with some dry-rub seasoning to taste.
4. After tofu is done draining, pat it dry with a fresh, dry paper towel. Slice the block of tofu in half by its thickness and make 6-8 thin slices in the halved tofu block. Slice again cross-wise to form small tofu squares or rectangles that will be easy to crisp while baking.
5. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Pat tofu squares dry and coat them evenly in the dry-rub/cornstarch mixture. Place them on a greased baking sheet. Bake them for 25-30 minutes, flipping and tossing them in the baking sheet a few times throughout the cooking process. Remove the tofu when it reaches desired crispness. (Depending on how much water remained in tofu prior to baking, this might take more or less time so check periodically for the desired crispness.) My tofu pieces were perfect and ultra crispy on the edges after 30 minutes. Let the tofu pieces cool for 5-10 mintues before coating in BBQ sauce.
(Alternatively, you can pan fry the tofu. Heat about 1 tbsp. oil in a non-stick sauté pan over medium-high heat. Cook the dry-rub coated tofu for 8-10 minutes, checking frequently and turning so tofu doesn’t burn. I found that my baked tofu came out crispier than the fried tofu, and the tops of the pan-fried tofu burned more easily. Plus, baking is definitely healthier so it’s a win when it yields better results than frying!)
6. Mix BBQ sauce with a little bit of water until it reaches the desired consistency, not too watery, but not as thick as regular store-bought BBQ sauce. Toss tofu pieces in BBQ sauce/water mixture and place them in a bowl.
7. Add the BBQ sauce marinated tofu pieces to a wrap or tortilla over seasoned rice and beans and top tofu with shredded or sliced cheese, and any other add-ins you desire (jalapenos, banana peppers, lettuce, etc.). Fold wrap into a burrito and toast in a non-stick sauté pan until outside is crispy and golden, but not burned. (To make sure all of the cheese has melted, I also microwave wrap for an additional 10-15 seconds.)