Give Tofu More Flavor By Cooking It En Papillote

There's little doubt that tofu can be a divisive ingredient. Some people love it for its ability to readily absorb any flavor you throw at it, others tolerate it as a necessity as a complete form of vegan protein, and then there are those that struggle with its questionable texture and bland taste. If you fall into one of those last two categories, you could pick from one of many recipes that will make you fall in love with tofu — or you can try cooking it en papillote.

En papillote refers to a French cooking method whereby you wrap food in paper packets then oven-bake them in order to lock in moisture and flavor. Because the technique relies on the steam produced within the paper parcel to cook, it's particularly useful for whipping up lighter versions of roasted and grilled dishes, because you can use little-to-no fat and the meal still won't dry out. Not only that, the use of a disposable packet makes cleanup a breeze, so this method is also an excellent choice for weeknight cooking.

It's a great way to cook tofu because you can pick whatever seasoning you fancy to flavor the protein. And you can be generous with those seasonings too, as the tofu will soak them all up while steaming in it's makeshift paper parcel.

Seasoning and cooking tofu en papillote

Cooking en papillote is easy. Slice a standard block of firm tofu through the middle into a pair of roughly one-inch-thick steaks. Pat these dry and place in a parchment-paper-lined shallow baking dish, then score the steaks across the top to help the seasoning penetrate the tofu. For flavor, you can stick to dried herbs and spices with a splash of citrus juice or broth, or go for a richer marinade and allow the tofu to soak it up for at least an hour before cooking. When seasoning, keep in mind why tofu tastes better in a restaurant than at home — namely, don't be shy with the salt.

Because tofu's flavor profile is subtle, it adapts well to just about any flavor, so season it to suit whatever you're craving. For the flavors of a traditional fish en papillote, scatter over some fresh herbs and sliced lemon. For more oomph, swap out the fish for tofu in our black cod and black cherries en papillote or orange and basil tilapia baked in parchment. You can also adapt recipes like fiery sriracha tofu or Mediterranean sheet pan tofu for the en papillote method. Once you've got your tofu seasoned, seal the paper parcel around the tofu leaving space for the steam to do its thing and throw it in a 400 degree oven for 20-35 minutes. You can plate your meal in the paper, letting diners open their own parcels if you like.