The more you know about tofu, the easier it will be to master this versatile protein.
Tofu may seem intimidating if you’ve never cooked with it before, and preparing it incorrectly may lead you to believe that tofu is squishy, tasteless, and unappetizing. If you’ve been disappointed or intimidated by tofu, you’re not alone.
Tofu is made from mature soybeans that are soaked and boiled until soy milk is produced, then the milk is curdled and pressed into blocks in much the same way as dairy cheese is made. It is a healthy, high-protein alternative to meat products which requires minimal processing and emits 12.5 times less greenhouse gas emissions than beef.
Follow these helpful tips and tricks to master this healthy and versatile ingredient:
Choose the right tofu.
Not all tofu is the same! Silken or soft-block tofu is best when used in creamy foods like smoothies, blended soups, pudding desserts, and salad dressings. Medium soft tofu is best used in miso soup or other dishes that don’t require much handling (as it will break up if treated too roughly). Firm and extra-firm tofu are the hardiest varieties and are best used in recipes where the tofu is stir-fried or handled more roughly.
Always drain and press your block tofu.
Silken tofu doesn’t require pressing (you can drain it and eat it raw!), but all firmer block tofu should be pressed. To do so, wrap the tofu in a towel or absorbent cloth and sandwich it between two cutting boards. Place something heavy (a cast-iron pot or a few pounds of potatoes) on top of the cutting board, which will apply pressure and squeeze any excess water out of the tofu. Press the tofu for 10 minutes.
Marinate the tofu.
Once your block tofu is pressed, you’ll want to marinate it, so it becomes a flavorful component of your dish. Scratch-made marinades are the best for ensuring a flavor profile that compliments the rest of your dish, but in a pinch, you can use any oil-based bottled salad dressing (like a robust Italian dressing) to give your tofu a boost of flavor. Pressing and then marinating your tofu is essential to making a flavorful tofu-based dish!
Cook tofu with care.
Tofu can become a crispy, delicious part of your dish if prepared correctly. Pan-frying it will give it a golden brown crust, but if you’re craving something crunchy, try tossing cubed tofu with a tablespoon of oil, tamari, or soy sauce, and 1-2 tablespoons of cornstarch before baking it in the oven. You can also air-fry tofu with delicious, crispy results.
Now that you know the basics of tofu – get out there and try it!
There are a ton of great recipes online. To get started, try these two tofu recipes submitted by One Planet Life home chefs:
Matar “Paneer” with Tofu Makes an Easy Vegan Weeknight Meal