The problem with most tofu that I get in restaurants is that the sauce just sits on the surface of thick pieces that are flavorless on the inside.
Here is my tricks for getting flavor all the way into the center of the tofu:
(1) Put salt and pepper on the tofu while it drains. The seasoning works its way into the tofu. The longer the tofu absorbs the seasonings, the more flavor on the inside of the tofu;
(2) Cook the tofu a long time before adding the sauce to drive off excess moisture and make the inside of the tofu a bit spongy; and
(2) Add water to the sauce. If you dilute the sauce, the sauce will soak into the tofu. After it soaks in, then you can boil down the remaining sauce into a thick glaze.
The following maple soy sauce has become my new go-to glaze for tempeh and tofu.
Maple Tamari Tofu
Sauce adapted from Sticky Blackened Tempeh, Happy.Healthy.Life.
14 ounce package extra firm tofu
freshly ground pepper (coarsely ground)
2 Tbl. tamari soy sauce
2 Tbl. maple syrup
Slice the tofu into 16 pieces: cut the tofu block into 4 layers, then cut each layer into 4 rectangles. If you prefer thicker pieces of tofu, cut the tofu into two layers and then cut each layer into 8 cubes. Drain the tofu on paper towels. Press with towels to get excess moisture. Sprinkle the tofu pieces with salt and pepper. Let the tofu absorb the salt and pepper and continue to drain on the paper towels for ten minutes.
Meanwhile, make the sauce: combine equal amounts of soy sauce and maple syrup. If you want to have extra sauce, you will need to use more than two tablespoons each of soy sauce and maple syrup, which is the right amount for just glazing the tofu.
Heat a frying pan over high heat. Add enough oil to just barely coat the pan. Place the tofu in a single layer in the pan. Let the tofu sear to a golden brown on each side.
When the tofu is browned and firm, pour over the sauce plus about 1/4 cup of water. The point of diluting the sauce with water is to make it more easily soaked up all the way into the center of the tofu instead of just glazing the surface. Continue to cook the tofu in the sauce until the water evaporates and the sauce thickens to a thin glaze on the tofu.
Serve over rice.
Note: when using this sauce with tempeh, add a 1/2 tsp. liquid smoke at the end.