Star Anise is a very fragrant and flavorful spice that grows as a star-shaped flower with seed pods on an evergreen tree native to Vietnam and China. Just a small amount of star anise makes a powerfully delicious, uniquely flavored marinade with a licorice flavor. This marinade is from a recipe learned from Philip Gelb, vegan chef, of Oakland, California. I’ve paired it with delicious tofu chunks to create this baked tofu chunks with star anise marinade, that can’t be beaten.
To maximize the flavors and fragrances of cooking, I recommend using whole spices whenever possible, rather than pre-powdered, packaged spices. Using pre-ground spices that were stored for a long period of time is somewhat like brewing coffee long after it has been ground or drinking wine months after uncorking it – the flavors and aromas of herbs, spices, and other foods dissipate or oxidize after being ground or exposed to air.
Spices can be ground quickly and efficiently using a spice grinder. I usually grind no more spices than I will use in a few weeks. With infrequently used spices, I only grind what I need for the recipe being prepared. When grinding whole star anise, grind and use the entire pod, seeds and all.
Bringing it All Together
To make these baked tofu chunks with star anise marinade into a complete meal, I love to serve them over brown rice with fresh vegetables and a tasty dressing. In the winter time, I love using brussels sprouts for a recipe like this. They’re so full flavored, they bake up really quickly, and they look beautiful in the bowl!
Bring it together with some freshly chopped green onions and one of my 6 plant based oil-free salad dressings. The sesame umami dressing is my favorite for this rice bowl. It brings a super savory element to the dish that pairs so well with the star anise’s licorice flavor.
Yields: 4 servings | Serving Size: 4 ounces | Calories: 188 | Total Fat: 10g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Trans Fat: 0g | Cholesterol: 0mg | Sodium: 520mg | Carbohydrates: 8g | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 2g | Protein: 19g | SmartPoints (Freestyle): 1
- 1 pound firm or extra firm tofu
- 2 tablespoons rice wine
- 2 tablespoons tamari
- 2 teaspoons coconut palm sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground star anise powder
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground Sichuan peppercorns, or to taste (The distinct aroma and flavor of Sichuan peppercorns are really worthwhile to use in this and other Asian spice blends, over standard black peppercorns)
- Slice block of tofu sideways and lengthwise into 4 or 5 rectangle planks. Sauté each plank in vegetable broth until lightly brown, replenishing vegetable broth as it evaporates and deglazing evaporated broth from the pan as you replenish.
- Spread tofu planks on parchment lined baking sheet, and bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes. Allow planks to cool.
- Slice planks into 1/2-inch squares, mix with marinade and allow to marinate in the refrigerator for at least one hour.
- Enjoy marinated tofu cubes over rice or add to any salad for a burst of flavor, with any dressing, and enjoy!
Looking for more plant-based and vegan recipes? We have a few more recipes we think you’ll love!
If you enjoyed this tofu recipe, check out Eric’s other incredible baked tofu dish. His go-to Cajun spice blend is just spicy enough without being over the top. Enjoy it on your favorite salad and reap the benefits with 20 grams of protein.
This salad is my go-to appetizer or midday snack choice. I often eat it for lunch or dinner, too, by adding it to some rice, romaine lettuce, or even on tortillas as tacos. You’ll love how clean and refreshing it is – even non-vegans will think this recipe is totally delicious.
Everyone needs a good dessert from time to time! Using cacao powder in this recipe means you get all the chocolatey flavor while also enjoying a completely plant-based treat. We think you’ll love the little crunch you get from the added millet, too.