Bento Box Basics: How to do fancy tofu cut-outs

by Wendy Copley on August 18, 2011

Tofu Food Art

You know what people ask me about a lot? Tofu.

My kids really like tofu. They like it a lot. They started eating it when they were babies and never stopped. And their numero uno favorite kind of tofu is baked teriyaki flavored tofu. They each eat it at least once per week — sometimes more often — when I pack it in their lunches and sometimes they beg me to give it to them for breakfast.

Baked tofu can be hard to find, depending on where you live. Wildwood makes a bunch of flavors and I can often find it in our local grocery stores, but sometimes I can’t. It’s usually located in a refrigerator case near the produce section along with other soy products and egg roll wrappers. Sometimes it’s in a “health food” section too. I buy our tofu at Trader Joe’s. Each package has two blocks of tofu and it looks like this:

Tofu Food Art

I love to pack tofu in the boys’ lunches because it’s fun to work with. I cut it into cubes, sticks and slabs, but my favorite thing to do with is is make fancy tofu cut-outs.

Tofu Food Art

To start, I turn the block of tofu on its side and cut a quarter inch slice off the broad side.

Tofu Food Art

While the outside of the tofu is brown from the marinade, the inside is still creamy white and quite firm. I often take advantage of this contrast in colors for decorative purposes.

Tofu Food Art

Next, I slice the bigger chunk of tofu into slices so it’s easier to eat.

Then I start in on the fun part! For this technique, you need a small cookie cookie cutter. The cutter should either be symmetrical or you should plan on cutting out two shapes with the same cutter. In this example, I’ll be making two cuts with a small giraffe cutter.

Tofu Food Art

Start by cutting a giraffe shape out of the thin slice of tofu.

Tofu Food Art

Then flip the tofu slice over and cut another giraffe out.

Tofu Food Art

You should have two giraffes now and the slice of tofu should basically be maintaining its rectangular shape.

Tofu Food Art

fit the giraffes back into the slice of tofu like a puzzle.

That’s pretty cute as it is, but we’re going to take it a step further and decorate it with food markers.

Tofu Food Art

Start off by patting the tofu dry with a paper towel. This will help the ink from the markers adhere better.

Tofu Food Art

Now use your food markers to draw on the giraffes.

Tofu Food Art

I find it’s helpful to wipe the tips of the markers off with a paper towel pretty frequently because the moisture from the tofu can make them stop working. You’ll also want to take care to clean the tips of the markers  thoroughly when you’re finished because if you leave food residue on them they’ll get moldy.(Ask me how I know.)

Tofu Food Art

Once your tofu shapes are decorated and hella cute, slide your knife under the shapes and the background and place it on top of the sliced tofu.

Tofu Food Art

Carefully place your block of tofu on the box and continue packing the rest of your lunch!

One more thing: I’m often asked if I have a recipe for baked tofu and the answer is…sorta. I attempted to make it once myself a few years ago with mixed results. I liked it, but my son hated it. He actually tried to wipe his tongue with a towel after tasting it! Ha ha!

Do you eat tofu? Do your kids?

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