A quick guide to cooking tofu


Unless you’re a lifelong vegetarian, tofu probably freaks you out a little. It’s one thing when the city’s best vegan chef fries it up and stuffs it in a sandwich for you, but actually making tofu at home can be intimidating. That doesn’t mean you should steer clear, though. Once you understand how to prep it, tofu is surprisingly easy to cook, and it’s a great way to add some plant-based protein to your diet. Read on for the ABC’s of cooking tofu.

Pick your type.

Before you start Pinteresting tofu recipes, you’ll have to decide which type you want to try. There are three basics varieties of tofu, and each is used for different dishes: Silken tofu holds on to a lot of water and is very soft, which makes it great for soups or recipes that call for cream cheese (think cheesecake). Firm or extra-firm tofu, on the other hand, has less water, making it more solid. This is the best kind to bake or fry. Then there’s tempeh, which is a tofu-like product made from cooked and fermented soybeans. You might also see smoked tofu on the shelf at your grocery store, but this is just a tweaked version of firm tofu. Different brands modify tofu in myriad other ways, but these are the three overarching categories.

Wring it out.

Since you intend to cook your tofu, you’ll probably want to select firm or extra-firm tofu. Although these types aren’t quite waterlogged as silken tofu, when you make a slit in the package, you’ll still see the block floating in a pool of water. Drain that water first, then press your tofu. Fold it up in a dish towel or handful of paper towels, then stick it on top of a cutting board. Use a heavy plate to press down and squeeze out the excess water, or stick something heavy on top of the plate and walk away for a few minutes. This should remove enough water to make the tofu cookable, but not crumbly.

Slice it up.

Most of the time, dicing your tofu is going to be the easiest option. Firm tofu holds the square shape pretty well, and these little cubes will soak up your marinade well. However, if you’re more concerned with cooking time, you may want to opt for larger, thinner rectangles. Note that tofu triangles look cuter if you intend to Insta your meal before eating it.

Spice it up.

Now comes the fun part: seasoning your tofu. Follow the same basic rules you would when marinating meat. Select your sauce (soy works well, since tofu likes salt), then pour an ample amount into the dish holding your diced or sliced tofu. Swirl it all around so that the marinade gets all over your tofu, then let it really soak up the flavor for about 30 minutes in the fridge. Pour off the excess, and you’re ready to cook.

Saute or bake.

The two easiest ways to prepare tofu are sauteing or baking. If you marinated the tofu beforehand, you can just throw it in a pan with a little olive oil and cook until it gets golden brown and crispy around the edges. If not, add some spices directly to the pan, like dill, garlic powder, and salt. Baking results in a slightly drier tofu, which might work better for your meat-eating friends. So if you choose to bake, spread your marinated tofu atop a silicone mat or an oiled-up cookie sheet, and bake at 350° for 30 to 35 minutes.

Step-by-Step Guide on the Best Ways to Cook Tofu [PopSugar]

Toe-food: The beginner’s guide to tofu [Stone Soup]

A Guide to Tofu Types and What to Do With Them [Serious Eats]

  • June 30th, 2016
  • Posted in: Avalon