This is the most incredible marinated tofu recipe, a vegan twist on spam musubi! Tofu musubi will win over your heart and become your new favorite thing to snack on. We’re talking marinated tofu wrapped in tasty sushi rice held together with nori seaweed.

Two pieces of tofu, rice, and seaweed stacked on top of each other.

You can easily make the tofu or musubi ahead of time (packing the seaweed on the side so it doesn’t get soggy) and enjoy this as an easy lunch or grab one as an afternoon snack!

Why This Recipe Works

This recipe requires very few ingredients, so it’s a quick and convenient recipe for any cook.

As much moisture as possible is removed from the tofu to help keep it from sticking to your pan.

The marinade combines sweet, acidic, and savory flavors for the perfect balance.

Ingredients & Substitutions

Extra firm tofu – You will need firm or extra firm tofu for this recipe so it holds it’s shape on the rice.

Brown sugar – You can substitute with another dissolvable sweetener in a pinch.

Soy sauce – This adds a salty element to the dish. You can use either dark or light soy sauce.

Rice vinegar – This adds an acidic element to the dish. Do not substitute. You can use regular or brown.

Ginger – Use fresh, grated ginger rather than dried.

Garlic – Use fresh, minced garlic if you can. Minced garlic from a jar will also work.

Scallions – You can substitute with minced shallots.

If making the musubi, you will also need:

Sushi rice – Do not substitute with other rice. It is short-grain Japanese rice.

Seaweed – I use Nori seaweed sheets that you can buy in packs online or at the store.

How to make the tofu

Start by draining the water out of your tofu. Wrap the tofu in a paper towel or kitchen towel and top it with a cutting board and then a book to press the tofu and drain out the water. Leave for at least 10 minutes.

The longer you wait, the more dense the tofu will become.

A woman placing books stacked on a metal pan on top of a wrapped piece of tofu.

Slice the block of tofu into 8 even strips, ~1/4 inch thick. Add the rest of the marinade ingredients to a baking dish and mix them together.

Top with the sliced tofu, and make sure the tofu is lying flat in the marinade. After 15 minutes, flip the tofu so both sides absorb the marinade. Marinade for another 15 minutes.

Strips of tofu and marinade on a silver sheet pan.

Next, wipe off all the garlic, ginger, and scallions. These will burn in the pan if you leave them on the tofu.

Cook the tofu ~3 minutes per side in a lightly oiled non-stick pan until browned.

Strips of marinated tofu cooking in a metal pan.

Save the leftover marinade and scallions and toss it with any veggies that you are cooking for extra flavor!

Turn the tofu into Musubi

If making this into musubi-style treats, you can make the rice while your tofu is marinating.

The rice

To cook the sushi rice, rinse 1 cup of sushi rice in cold water until it runs clear, ~3 times. Then place the rice and 1 cup of water in a small saucepan over high heat.

Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cover. Cook for 15 minutes, then remove from heat, and let stand for 10 more minutes.

In the meantime, combine 1 tablespoon of rice vinegar, 1 tablespoon of sugar, and 1/2 tablespoon of sea salt in a bowl. Mix until dissolved. You can use the microwave to help melt the sugar and salt by microwaving on high for 30 seconds.

When the rice is cooked, transfer to a bowl, add the vinegar mixture, and mix/fluff with a fork. Let it cool to room temperature before making your sushi.

Assemble the musubi-inspired tofu

Split the cooked rice into 8 equal parts. With wet hands, press each part into the sidewall of the tofu container (using it as a musubi mold) as shown in the photo. Pack it in firmly so it comes out as one piece. Repeat 7 more times.

Hands pressing rice into the side of a tofu container to form a log shape.

Top each rice rectangle with one piece of the cooked tofu. Wrap each with one of the nori strips.

Two hands placing beige tofu on top of rice in the shape of a rectangle.

Or you can skip the rice mold and add some rice to a whole sheet of seaweed. Top with the tofu rectangle and wrap like a burrito.

A woman wrapping rice and tofu in a sheet of seaweed.

Prep-Ahead Tofu Musubi Tips

Marinate the tofu for a minimum of 30 minutes, or as long as 24 hours. If you leave the tofu marinating in the fridge for longer than 24 hours the tofu tends to break down. From a food safety standpoint, the tofu is ok to marinate for 48 hours.

The tofu and rice can be made up to 3 days in advance. You can stack the tofu and rice in advance and store them in the fridge.

The only thing you cannot do in advance is wrap the musubi in seaweed. The seaweed will get soggy and will taste rubbery. The best time to wrap the musubi in seaweed is just before eating.

Six tofu musubi pieces stacked on a white countertop.

Enjoy More Tofu Recipes

If you love this recipe, you’ll also love these inventive tofu recipes.


Marinated Tofu & Tofu Musubi

5 from 23 votes
Print Recipe Save
The actual best marinated tofu recipe, and how to turn it into a vegan twist on spam musubi!
Prep Time30 minutes
Cook Time30 minutes
Total Time1 hour
Course: Appetizer, Main, Snack
Cuisine: American, Japanese
Diet: Kosher, Vegan, Vegetarian
Servings: 4
Calories: 280kcal

Ingredients

Marinated Tofu

  • 1 lb. extra firm tofu save the container
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp rice vinegar
  • 1 tbsp fresh ginger grated
  • 1 tbsp fresh garlic minced
  • 2 scallions finely sliced

Sushi Rice

  • 1 cup sushi rice or short grain rice
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 tbsp rice vinegar
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1/2 tbsp sea salt

Other

  • 2 sheets nori seaweed cut into 1.5″ strips (8 strips needed)

Instructions

Sushi Rice

  • Rinse your rice in water until it runs clear, ~3 times.
  • Place the rice and water in a small saucepan over high heat. Bring to boil, then reduce to simmer and cover. Cook 15 minutes, then remove from heat, and let stand for 10 more minutes.
  • In the meantime, combine the rice vinegar, sugar, and salt in a bowl. Mix until melted. You can use the microwave to help melt the sugar and salt by microwaving on high for 30 seconds.
  • When the rice is cooked, transfer to a bowl, add the vinegar mixture, and mix/fluff with a fork. Let it cool to room temperature before making your sushi.

Marinated Tofu

  • Slice your tofu into 8 even strips ~1/4 inch thick. 
  • Mix your marinated tofu ingredients (except the tofu) in bowl. Transfer to a flat dish that can fit all your slices of tofu laying flat. Add your tofu slices. Let marinade 15 minutes, then flip and marinade for another 15 minutes. Then, wipe off all the ginger, garlic, and scallions. If not, they will burn in the pan when you cook the tofu.
  • Lightly oil a non-stick pan and heat over medium heat. Cook the tofu on both sides until it begins to brown, ~3 minutes per side.

Tofu Musubi

  • Split your rice into 8 equal parts. With wet hands, press each part into the side wall of your tofu container as shown in the photo. Pack it in firmly so it comes out as one piece. Repeat 7 more times.
  • Top each rice rectangle with one piece of the cooked tofu. Wrap each with one of the nori strips.

Video

Notes

The tofu and rice can be made the up to 3 days in advance.
You can even stack the tofu and rice in advance. The only thing you cannot do in advance is wrap the musubi in seaweed. The seaweed will get soggy and will taste rubbery. The best time to wrap the musubi in seaweed is just before eating.

Nutrition

Calories: 280kcal | Carbohydrates: 49g | Protein: 14g | Fat: 2g | Sodium: 2463mg | Potassium: 284mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 7g | Vitamin A: 60IU | Vitamin C: 1.7mg | Calcium: 52mg | Iron: 2.8mg
Did you try this recipe?I’d love to hear what you think! Leave a Review to let us know how it came out, if you have a successful substitution or variation, or anything else.

11 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    This was so good! My family and me had some serious doubt to be honest but it was actually from their words “you know this might actually be the best thing you ever made” but with a stuffed mouth.

  2. 5 stars
    Candice wasn’t joking when she titles this as the BEST marinated tofu musubi. This recipe was easy to follow, low maintenance, and the ingredients aren’t hard to find at all. When consumed, it simply has the same texture as spam. I would gladly make this over and over again, and serve to friends once quarantine life is over! Thanks again, Candice!

    1. I am so happy to hear it was easy, and easy to find the ingredients… but most importantly, I’m glad to hear you enjoyed it so much, Esther! Thanks for sharing, and for sharing over on Instagram. I really appreciate it! Wishing you a safe and easy quarantine <3!

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