Tofu swiss steak, or tofu smothered in tomato sauce

May 29, 2011 at 8:43 pm (C (2 stars, okay, edible), Miso, Ron Pickarski, Summer recipes, Tofu)

I have no idea why Ron Pickarski names this “Swiss Steak”.  It’s basically tofu smothered in a vegetably tomato sauce.  Is that how the Swiss eat their steaks?  It seems more Italian.   In any case, Pickarski says that this is one of his favorite everyday foods, so I thought it was worth a try.


  • 2 Tbs. sesame or canola oil
  • 1 1/2 cups sliced fresh mushrooms
  • 1 cup halved and sliced onions
  • 1 cup diced green bell peppers
  • 2 Tbs. minced garlic
  • 1 Tbs. chopped basil
  • 1/4 cup dark barley miso dissolved in 1/4 cup water
  • 2 cups tomato puree
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 tsp. black pepper
  • 4 tomatoes, blanched, peeled, seeded, and chopped (optional)
  • 4 to 6 tsp. tamari
  • 4 pieces of firm tofu, 2 ounces each
  • 1/4 cup sesame oil


  1. Heat 2 Tbs. of oil in a medium saucepan.  Saute the mushrooms, onions, bell peppers, and garlic with the basil for 5 to 8 minutes.  Stir in the dissolved miso.  Then add the tomato puree, water, pepper, and fresh tomatoes.  Simmer for 5 minutes.
  2. Pour the tamari over the tofu pieces, distributing it evenly.  Heat the 1/4 cup of sesame oil in a skillet.  Saute the tofu on both sides until golden brown.
  3. Place a little sauce in an 8-inch square baking dish, place the tofu on the sauce, and cover with the remaining sauce.  Cover the dish and bake at 350 F for 20 to 25 minutes.  (If the sauce begs to evaporate and doesn’t look appetizing, add more water.)
  4. Serve hot with mashed potatoes and a green vegetable.

My notes:

I found this recipe confusing.  Where is the tofu supposed to be when you pour the tamari oil over it?  Also, the amount of sauce (and oil) seemed way too high for only 4 small pieces of tofu! I doubled the amount of tofu, used only 2 Tbs. of red miso, and didn’t blanch, peel, or seed my tomatoes.

They don’t sell tomato puree here in Germany so I just pureed some canned tomatoes in their juice. The tomato sauce was tasty (if very rich), but I thought it could use some olives.  I did like the addition of a little miso in the tomato sauce.  (That said, Pickarski seems to call for miso in just about every recipe, and it often leads to too much salt for me.  That’s why I cut the miso in half for this recipe.)

The tofu browned nicely, but after baking it in the sauce the crispness was completely gone.  I don’t at all understand the point of crisping the tofu.  In fact, the tofu was the weakest point in this dish.  It didn’t really absorb the sauce and it basically just tasted like plain, unseasoned tofu.   The dish was, however, extremely filling, probably because of all the oil.

I wouldn’t make this recipe again, although I might use the tomato sauce recipe for another dish.

Rating: B-

Derek: B

1 Comment

  1. MJ Rogers said,

    Found this while looking for vegetarian swiss steak recipes. The browning isn’t to crisp it but to give it color; the meat in traditional swiss steak is browned before braising it. It also gives flavor. “Swiss” doesn’t refer to the country but to a process of pounding out tough meat to make it more tender.

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