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Tips and Tricks for Making Tofu Easier to Cook With


By now, everyone has heard of tofu and is raving about plant-based diets. Tofu is fast becoming a staple, but how do you cook it? Here are a few tips and tricks to producing restaurant-quality tofu dishes at home. 

What on earth is tofu?

Tofu is known as the vegan superfood of the century. This high in protein and low in calories meat substitute is not only healthy but is a real food chameleon. Tofu absorbs any flavor. This flavor absorbing ability means that tofu suits any style of cooking from Indian curries to Italian Parmigiana.

Tofu is made from soy milk and originated in Asia, where it is extensively eaten by everyone no matter whether they eat meat or are vegetarians. Tofu has crept into Western diets and is for recipes such as cheesecakes, vegan 'eggs', desserts, and even creamy pasta sauces.

It starts in the store.

Your tofu food journey starts with the recipe you would like to make. There are several different kinds of tofu on supermarket shelves. If your local grocery store doesn't stock tofu, take a trip to your nearest Asian market where you will find that you are spoiled for choice.

The recipe determines the kind of tofu you need. Here is a quick guide to the different types of tofu you will find:

  • Silken tofu - Desserts more often require extra soft tofu called silken tofu. This kind of tofu is soft, squidgy, and resembles smooth blocks of cream cheese. Silken tofu is often used in sauces and as a vegan substitute for any dish that calls for soft cheeses such as ricotta. Silken tofu is great for dips, cannelloni fillings, or cheesecakes.

  • Regular tofu - is slightly firmer tofu, it is still fragile and can crumble. It is used most often in soups or as a spread. Regular tofu is used as a replacement for scrambled eggs.

  • Firm tofu - is the most commonly used tofu, and easiest to find. This tofu is easy to cut and handle. Firm tofu is an excellent meat substitute in any dish. With a little pressing, you can produce extra and super firm tofu! It can be marinated, panfried, stewed, and even baked!

  • Pressed and extra firm tofu - these are the veterans of the tofu world. With the least amount of water, these are the densest kinds of tofu on the market. Their texture makes them the meatiest and can be used to replace meat in any recipe. Pressed and super firm tofu requires a little extra time marinading.


The trick to cooking tofu you'll love

The secret to cooking tofu is: there is no secret. Cooking tofu is as easy as 1,2,3. Many people often complicate a recipe by overthinking it. With a little research, tofu is super easy to cook with and might even become a staple in your home.

The golden rules of tofu are:

  • When in doubt press it out - Press your tofu out to drain any excess liquid off, firmer tofu will help when it comes to handling the tofu pieces. Investing in a tofu press is a great way to get started with tofu pressing.

  • Less is more - When it comes to tofu, less is more is the perfect approach to dressing and cooking your tofu. Tofu is delicious on its own or as the main star of any recipe.

  • Don't be afraid to experiment - the number one golden rule is to experiment, crumb your tofu, add Italian seasonings, try it with masala or even just olive oil and salt. The options are endless.

  • Slice before pressing - cut your tofu into slices before you press it. Slicing the tofu allows the liquid from the inside of the tofu, to be removed. The more liquid removed, the crispier the bites. 

  • Marinate - Marinate your tofu for 15 - 20 minutes before cooking. A simple marinade of soy sauce, chopped chillis, white wine vinegar, a dash of sugar/honey, and some grated ginger is a great place to start.

  • Try different cooking methods - tofu is versatile, there are many tofu recipes for pan-frying, deep-frying, baking, pasta sauce, and so much more.


No more soggy tofu!

When it comes to tofu, there are many different ways of cooking and serving it. Well prepared tofu is often known for its crispy and crunchy texture. The trick to crispy tofu and not soggy tofu is in the pressing.

To press tofu correctly, you need a few things:

  • A tofu press like the one at https://tofubud.com/products/tofu-press or two firm cutting boards and something heavy (a few tins works well)

  • One package tofu (not silken, this will not work for silken tofu)

  • A few sheets of paper towel

Slice your tofu into cubes or slices, try to keep the pieces together. Press tofu in a single layer, layering pieces on top of each other will only push the moisture into each other.

If using a tofu press, place the tofu inside the tofu press, and press for 20 minutes.

If using the chopping board method: place the 2nd chopping board on top of the tofu and weigh it down with tin cans. Allow it to drain for at least 30 minutes to make firm or extra firm tofu. Draining this next to your kitchen sink prevents liquid from spilling onto your countertops.

Tip: for extra crunchy and crispy tofu, try beer batter or crumbing your tofu in seasoned panko crumbs before frying or baking. Even a light dusting of cornstarch can add a delicate crunch to the texture of your tofu.

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