Teriyaki tofu burgers

Teriyaki tofu burger

It’s barbecue season (yay!) and a few nights ago we decided to fire up our Woki-Wok.

(The Woki-Wok is our super-cool barbecue that can also be used as a wok, grill, steamer, smoker, griddle, etc etc. It came with an ENORMOUS cast iron wok which is now an indispensible part of the Thrifty kitchen. Though the Woki-Wok retails for around £150, we got ours last summer for a bargain £50 from eBay. Check it out if you are in the market for a new barbecue.)

I had a hankering for a big slab o’ tofu on the barbie. When I’ve baked or barbecued tofu in the past, I’ve always been a bit disappointed at how it’s turned out. The marinade/sauce never seemed to be committed to becoming one with the tofu, if you know what I mean.

Then I discovered the secrets to happy conjugal tofu-marinade relations.

You have to first press, and then gently pan-fry the tofu before you marinate it. The marinade should also have a bit of body to it, so that when you barbecue the tofu, it forms a delicious crust. The idea for the technique came from Out of the Frying Pan.

I adapted the marinade recipe from here.

Be warned, it is a VERY salty marinade. You wouldn’t want to use it as a sauce. But because tofu is completely bland, it doesn’t taste too salty with this marinade.

Teriyaki tofu burgers

British       American
250g   tofu   9 ounces
    oil for frying    
    Teriyaki marinade (recipe below)    

1. Cut the tofu into burger-sized slabs. The tofu I buy comes in a block that is about 10cm (4″) square, by 2.5cm (1″) thick. I slice it through the thickness so that I end up with two pieces that are 10cm square by 1.2cm thick (4″ square by 1/2″ thick).

2. Next, press some of the moisture out of the tofu to make it firmer. (If you are using tofu that is already very firm, you can probably omit this step.) Lay a kitchen towel, folded in half, onto a baking tray. Lay the tofu, in a single layer,  on top of the towel, then fold the other half of the towel over the tofu. You will now have a double layer of towel both underneath and on top of the tofu. Lay another tray on top of the tofu, then put something heavy on the tray (I use a couple of 5 litre (160 oz) tins of olive oil). Leave for 1/2 hour to one hour.

3. When tofu has finished being pressed, heat a bit of oil (I used groundnut/peanut) in a heavy skillet. Gently saute the tofu until it is a light golden colour, then flip and saute the other side. Remove from skillet and place in a single layer in a shallow dish or plate.

4. Spread a thin layer of marinade over the tofu, then flip it over in the dish and spread more on top. Let it sit for 1/2 hour.

5. Cook on a barbecue until the coating has caramelised onto the tofu, about 20 minutes (this will depend on how hot the barbecue is). Watch it closely to ensure it doesn’t burn.

Makes two servings.

Teriyaki marinade

British       American
165ml   mirin (Japanese sweet rice wine)   1/3 cup
125ml   Japanese soy sauce   1/2 cup
2 teaspoons   rice vinegar   2 teaspoons
1/2 teaspoon   sesame oil   1/2 teaspoon
2 tablespoons + 2 teaspoons   sugar   2 tablespoons + 2 teaspoons
3 cloves   garlic, minced   3 cloves
1/2 tablespoon   minced fresh ginger   1/2 tablespoon
dash   red pepper flakes   dash
to taste   freshly ground pepper   to taste
1 teaspoon   cornflour (cornstarch)   1 teaspoon

1. Simmer mirin in a pan for 8-10 minutes. Add soy sauce, vinegar, sesame oil, sugar, garlic, ginger, red pepper flakes and pepper, and simmer another 5 minutes.

2. Mix cornflour (cornstarch) with a teaspoon or two of water. Add it to the simmering marinade, whisking constantly, until thickened.

This is more than you will need for two servings of tofu; store extra marinade in a glass jar in the fridge.


  1. Oh..that looks so yummy! I am so enchanted by your Woki Wok!! It looks they are not available in the US yet..ack…I’ll have to wait and live vicariously through you =)

  2. Wow, that looks great! As an apartment dweller I don’t have a barbecue, but I still think this marinade would be useful!

  3. Woki Wok – how cute! Believe it or not I actually watched an hour of tv the other night and there is this show called Kitchen Millionaire – have you heard of it? The winner gets to debut his/her product to be included in Tesco multi billion dollar food line. Someone made vegan gluten free muffins and the other quinoa salad. Believe you me, if you’ve entered – you would knock them out!

    O’Felicious – why do you always make me so hungry!


  4. Thanks for that tip about pan-frying the tofu! No wonder mine falls apart; I never knew that.

    Bummer that the woki-wok is not available in the U.S.! When I clicked on “look for a distributor,” it told me there were none here but helpfully suggested I try a “nearby country.” Ahem, I live smack in the middle of a very large country… the nearest foreign one is Canada, also with no distributor. So I’ll just live vicariously through you!

  5. Denny — No, I hadn’t heard of Kitchen Millionaire. I looked it up and it was aired here last year, so there’s my chance gone unless they do another series 🙂

  6. I have always been searching for a good teriyaki marinade recipe. This looks delicious, as always. I can’t wait to try it. THANKS!!

  7. looks really delicious. I typically make a super strong marinade if I only have a short time to soak. if I can marinate overnight, i make it weaker. it seems to soak through quite a bit. freezing tofu is also a good way to make holes for stuff to soak into.

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