A Quick Guide to Cooking Tofu
If you’ve been meaning to participate in #MeatlessMondays, but haven’t found the right recipe to launch your part-time vegetarianism, consider one that stars tofu. The soy-based ingredient might seem intimidating. After all, it’s one thing to eat tofu when it’s been prepared at a vegan diner or trendy brunch spot. But making it on your own is another story. Where do you even begin? The answer to that is easy: here, with our guide on cooking tofu successfully the first time:
- Pick a block. Not all tofus are created equal. Some work great for certain dishes, but won’t pan out if you try to recreate them in a different way. For example, you want soft, silken tofu if you’ll be throwing chunks of it into a soup. The bits will soak up the broth well without crumbling apart (as they might if you used them in a stir-fry). Likewise, silken tofu best mimics cream cheese in desserts (think cheesecake or cheese danish). However, if you intend to fry, bake, or roast your tofu, opt for the extra firm stuff.
- Decide to go organic or GMO-free. Just because you’re avoiding meat for a meal doesn’t mean you have to go all the way with this healthy eating thing. But if you want to, there’s more to consider than just soft or firm tofu. You should also keep in mind that even the soybeans that make tofu have, for the most part, been genetically modified. If that’s a dealbreaker for you, keep an eye out for GMO-free tofus. You can also buy organic if that’s important to you. Keep in mind that not all tofus are organic just because they’re tofu; you’ll have to look for a label.
- The drier, the better. Once you’ve picked your preferred type of tofu, it’s time to dry it. There are a few ways to do this, but when you scour vegetarian food blogs, you’ll find a cheat: steaming salt water. Once you’ve sliced up your tofu, put it in a strainer and pour piping-hot, salted water over it. This move may be counterintuitive, but the combination of hot water and salt actually helps tofu squeeze out any hiding water droplets. You can also slice it up and press it between towels. A good way to do this is to put a cookie sheet underneath and another on top (make sure to cover the tofu both on both sides with towels), then place something heavy on the top baking sheet, like a large can of tomatoes. Give your tofu ample time to dry. The drier it is, the better it will brown.
- Season, season, season. Tofu doesn’t have much flavor on its own. That’s the beauty of it. You can recreate tofu as whatever “meat” you like using the proper blend of seasonings. Marinate it, salt it, season it with fresh herbs and spices. No matter how you choose to flavor tofu, you better believe it’s going to hold tight to those seasonings.
- Roast, pan-fry, bake, or grill. Tofu is versatile even when it comes to cooking. Stalk Instagram to see how your favorite vegetarian celebs like to prepare it, or just try stir-frying it. You can flour the sides of dry chunks of tofu or simply toss them in a deep cast-iron pan with plenty of oil. Once the tofu has browned, toss it into a wok of your favorite stir-fried veggies with soy or teriyaki sauce. You can also easily bake, roast, and grill tofu.
How to Make Crispy Tofu Without Deep-Frying [The Kitchn]
toe-food: the beginner’s guide to tofu [Stone Soup]
Tofu Recipes: 10 Easy Ways to Cook Tofu [Huffington Post]
How to Cook Crispy Tofu Worth Eating [Serious Eats]