I’m not certain if tofu is becoming more popular or if there is just an effort to make it more popular but I am seeing more information on cooking with tofu lately.
Every time I look into it I tell myself that I must try it. Some of the recipes look fantastic.
I’ll blame the pandemic and Brexit for my lack of tofu expertise….
I blame the pandemic because I’m not out and about at new shops and markets. I go to my main supermarket and if it’s not there I don’t buy it. They don’t have tofu. In the before times I would happily go from shop to shop, searching and discovering new things in the process.
I blame Brexit because, when I was desperate I could almost always find things on Amazon UK that I couldn’t find on Amazon France or in the shops. Most Amazon UK sellers won’t ship to France now. (I ran out of lemon pepper the other day – not on Amazon France and UK won’t ship…. still working on that one. lol) Amazon UK has a lot of tofu….
Soon, I hope, after lockdown lifts and I get my 2nd vaccination, I’ll be more adventurous and check out the Bio (organic) stores.
In the meantime – read on for some tips and a good description of the types and uses of tofu.
Tips for Making AMAZING Tofu Dishes
You may have had that experience where you try a tofu dish just to find your mouth filled with mush. Tofu is a deliciously versatile and protein-rich food. Although tofu doesn’t have much taste on its own, tofu brings a lot of rewards when you know how to prepare it.
If you put this collection of tips to good use when making your tofu dishes, you’ll love tofu as much as we do!
1. Try tofu first at your favorite restaurant
If you are new to tofu, go to your favorite restaurant (or get a recommendation from veggie friends) and try a dish or two. You’ll be surprised at what chefs are creating with tofu, and you may find some ideas to inspire you at home.
2. Buy the right tofu for the right dish
There are many different kinds of tofu. Just as you wouldn’t buy chicken to use for a beef recipe, you wouldn’t purchase soft tofu for a recipe that requires firm tofu.
Silken tofu is best when you want to make creams, sauces, puddings, batters, and for baking (it makes an excellent egg substitute.) If you’re going to make cheesecakes, omelets, and salad dressings, silken tofu is the best for the job.
Soft tofu is often interchangeable with silken tofu. As soft is slightly firmer, you can use it for any of the above sauces or smooth recipes (puddings, smoothies). It also works brilliantly as an alternative to ricotta or mascarpone in Italian pasta sauces and casseroles.
Medium tofu is firmer than soft but still delicate. You can use medium tofu in soups that simmer gently, such as miso soup.
Firm tofu absorbs flavors well, and you can use it in stir-fries and pan-fried dishes. You can also crumble it and use it in tofu scrambles or as an alternative to ground meat.
Extra-firm tofu is the best for holding its shape. You can therefore use it when you want firm cubes of tofu that won’t fall apart. Stir-fries and pan-fried dishes work well, but extra-firm tofu can also be put on skewers for a BBQ.
3. Press tofu for extra flavor
Both firm and extra-firm tofu are best pressed before using to remove excess water. The more water you remove before cooking, the better your tofu will absorb your spices and sauces’ flavors. You can put your block of tofu between two plates with something heavy on top. If you want to save time, get yourself a tofu press such as the one at https://tofubud.com/products/tofu-press that will do the job for you.
4. Freeze tofu for extra chewiness
If you are after the chewy texture of meat in your recipes, you’ll want to use either firm or extra-firm tofu, and freeze it before using.
Freezing your tofu will change its texture to make it extra-chewy and it will hold together perfectly.
5. Be generous with seasonings
Once you’ve removed the excess water, pat your tofu dry and then marinate or season it generously. Marinades are often a mixture of tamari, broth, oil, and some spices or herbs like garlic, paprika, curry, or other spice. Use your imagination here – taco seasoning is perfect for tofu taco fillings, for example.
Once your tofu is in the marinade, leave it for a few hours to soak up the flavors. If you can, put it in your fridge in a covered dish and let it marinate overnight.
Instead of marinating, you may want to use a dry rub of seasoning. Dry rubs are useful if you want your cooked tofu to have a crusty texture on the outside. Rub the spices over the surface of the drained and dried tofu. Then pan fry it in oil and see what happens to the crust!
6. Try a deep-fry
Firm or extra-firm tofu lends itself well to deep frying. Cut it into cubes, dip it in plant-based milk, and then coat it with a seasoned crumb mixture. You can use flour with spices, crushed up cereal, or (seasoned) bread crumbs.
Then fry your tofu till crispy, and enjoy!
7. Bake it
Once you’ve marinated or otherwise seasoned your tofu, try baking it. Cube it, season it, and spread it out on a baking sheet. Bake it for 25-30 minutes at 400 degrees F. Your tofu will be crispy on the outside and soft on the inside.
8. Use it as a meat substitute in favorite dishes
If you’ve eaten meat previously, substitute tofu for the beef, fish, or chicken. You’d be surprised at how delicious tofu is as Sweet and Sour Tofu (instead of chicken), Tofu Scampi (instead of shrimp), etc.
The only limits to using tofu is your imagination!