Looking for the ultimate tofu guide or for information on how to cook tofu and how to make crispy tofu?
Today we are going to be discussing all of the information that you could ever need to know about tofu.
From what it is made from, the different types of tofu, and how to prepare and cook it for the best results. This is the ultimate guide that will leave you feeling like a tofu master!
So, keep reading if you are interested in learning all of the basics of cooking and eating tofu for yourself!
When I first went vegan I remember being so completely clueless about how to use tofu in my meals.
This strange, spongy food was completely foreign to me and I had no idea how to use it in my diet. Or how to cook it in a way that actually tasted good.
If you are in that same place then this tofu guide is for you. To help you discover the joys of cooking and eating tofu in all of the amazing ways!
So that you can go and buy that block of tofu with confidence and make an amazing protein-rich, vegan meal for yourself.
And if you are not sure how to store your leftover tofu, keep reading till the end where I will be giving some tips.
What is Tofu
Tofu can be pretty mysterious with its pure white and slightly gelatinous texture.
It is actually made of bean curd through the process of coagulating soy milk and pressing the curds into blocks.
These blocks will be pressed differently depending on the variety of tofu being made. Creating tofu of varying textures such as soft, firm, and extra-firm tofu.
Tofu originated in China and is still a very firm staple in their diet.
What Does Tofu Taste Like?
If you are new to the world of tofu you might be wondering what tofu tastes like.
The simple answer is nothing. Tofu doesn’t have much of a flavor on its own. Just a very slight sourness.
Tofu is one of those foods that tales on the flavors around it. This is why it is so important to season, marinate, and cook tofu properly.
If you don’t properly flavor tofu you will end up with a very bland meal that might just send you running from any other tofu dishes.
So, don’t forget that you have to season tofu for yourself. Because it is very bland on its own and needs a little help to actually start tasting good.
Extra-firm tofu is the hardest kind of tofu that you are going to find in your grocery store.
This tofu is firm and just slightly chewy. It is a great place to start especially if you have an aversion to soft or squishy foods.
Extra-firm tofu is the best kind of tofu for making foods like stir-frys, tofu nuggets, or tofu scrambled eggs.
It has the most structure of the types of tofu and is easier to cook and work with in general.
Firm tofu or regular tofu as it is sometimes called is the next type of tofu that you can try. This is another easy type of tofu that is very beginner-friendly.
This tofu is a little softer than the extra firm variety but it can still be used in the same ways. It just provides a slightly softer texture that is easier to mash or break apart.
It can be cubed, stir-fried, baked, and scrambled into scrambled tofu.
Soft tofu is where it starts to get a little bit trickier.
You don’t want to use soft tofu for just anything as this type of tofu is much softer and almost has a creamy consistency.
It lacks all of the texture that the firm tofu has and is soft enough to be scooped with a spoon.
Soft tofu is a great tofu to get creative with and add to more interesting dishes. You can do this by adding soft tofu to savory sauces or sweet pudding. You can even add it to baked goods in the place of eggs!
Silken tofu is the last kind of tofu that you will find and it is the softest kind of tofu as well.
This kind of tofu is much like the soft tofu only it is significantly softer in texture. So soft that it can be hard to get it out of the container without it going everywhere.
This kind of tofu is perfect for sauces, puddings, smoothies, homemade yogurt, and more. It can be added to baked goods or thrown into a creamy alfredo sauce.
Your imagination is the limit when it comes to silken tofu.
How to Prepare Tofu
One of the biggest reasons that people don’t like tofu is that they just haven’t eaten tofu that’s been made right.
Tofu is a delicate and stubborn food that has to be treated a certain way in order to get the best results.
Don’t follow the right preparation steps and you might end up with a soggy tofu dish that no one wants to eat. Cooking tofu is a skill and one that requires a bit of time and patience.
So make sure to follow these steps closely in order to get the best results possible.
Press and Drain
The first step that you need to follow when preparing tofu is to press and drain your block of tofu.
This is an important step because tofu is usually packaged in water. This means that the tofu has absorbed several tablespoons of water.
If you tried to cook tofu without draining it, whatever you made would end up a bit soggy and waterlogged. Not to mention your tofu will have a soggy and wet texture and won’t be able to cook properly.
That is why you need to follow this tofu guide on how to cook tofu and press and drain your tofu block.
You can do this with some clean kitchen towels or several paper towels.
Squeeze as much water out of your tofu as you can without breaking it apart then press it with the dish towel or paper towels until it is starting to get dry.
If you want to get even more water out of the tofu you can put something heavy on top of the tofu. Letting the weight press even more water out for about 20 to 30 minutes.
Doing this will ensure that you are going to get amazing textured tofu that isn’t soggy or wet.
Note: It is important to remember that you can only do this step with the firm or extra firm tofu. Both soft and silken tofu are far too soft and cannot be pressed or drained without breaking them apart.
The next crucial step when it comes to how to cook tofu is to marinate the tofu to give it flavor. This is another step that people often miss which results in very unpleasant tofu dishes.
You can season your tofu like you would anything else but it just won’t have the same effect as a marinate will.
Seasonings just can’t soak into tofu like a marinate, so you will still end up with slightly bland tofu. A marinate will flavor the entire amount of tofu with amazing flavor.
The secret to a good marinate is having plenty of seasonings and liquid flavorings. Some ingredients that you could use are:
- Salt and pepper
- Smoked paprika
- Garlic and onion powder
- Steak seasoning
- Poultry seasoning
- Liquid smoke
- Barbecue sauce
- Soy sauce
- Vegetable stock
These are all great ideas when formulating your own tofu marinate. Just remember to add a bunch of seasoning and to be heavy-handed.
Tofu is literally a blank slate and needs all of that additional flavor to become the star of the show. So, don’t be afraid to be heavy-handed with the flavorings and spices.
The next step is the final step of this tofu guide and that is to cook your tofu.
There are several methods that you could choose when it comes to cooking your tofu. As long as you have followed the two previous steps your tofu is going to turn out amazing no matter what cooking method you choose!
This step all depends on what you are looking for, are you trying to find out how to make tofu crispy or do you want it to still be soft? Or do you want seared tofu that is caramelized or dry tofu that’s been baked?
It’s all up to you and how you want to present your dish.
Tofu Guide: How to Cook Tofu
Tofu can feel like a very strange ingredient to try to cook but it really isn’t a hard as it seems.
It can be cooked much like you would cook any kind of meat product or meat substitute. As long as you have followed the necessary steps of pressing and draining and marinating your tofu it’s going to taste amazing.
Here are a few of the best ways that you can cook tofu in order to get amazingly tasty results.
When I say frying I mean literal frying in oil or just frying up in a bit of oil in a pan. Either way is a great cooking method if you are trying to find out how to make tofu crispy.
This method of cooking will guarantee crispy and textured tofu. It can even help to yield more flavor as some of the tofu becomes caramelized and a bit overcooked.
This is great for salads and stir-frys.
Note: For extra crispy tofu that is healthier try using an air fryer instead of frying. This is a healthier option that still gets your tofu deliciously crispy!
Baking is just about the easiest way to cook tofu while still getting some amazing texture and crunch.
All you have to do is spread your tofu out on a baking tray and bake at 400 degrees fahrenheit for 20 to 30 minutes. Turning the tofu over halfway through the cooking time.
This kind of tofu goes great on salads, on top of soups, in stir-frys, or eaten on its own dipped into a sauce.
Note: For extra crispy tofu, toss the tofu in a bit of cooking oil then toss it in some cornstarch. This will help the tofu to become twice as crispy in the oven.
You could also grill your tofu to get that traditional barbecue flavor. This is a great way to cook tofu for a get-together or summer dinners.
Grilled tofu goes great with vegan potato salad or over a fresh green salad.
The most common cooking method for tofu is to sautee it over medium heat in a pan. This will give you crispy tofu that still has some moisture and texture.
Sautéed tofu can be used in all kinds of ways whether you want to dip it in something, add it to another dish, or eat it over a salad or in a buddha bowl.
How to Store Tofu
Whether you cooked too much tofu, cooked extra for later, or just couldn’t eat it all and needed to find a solution. There are two great ways that you can store your tofu for later.
This way you can buy it in bulk and save it for later or make your tofu ahead of time for a meal on the go throughout the week.
Tofu will last just fine in the fridge for 3 to 5 days. It might become a bit softer and lose its texture or crispiness but it will still taste good.
The less moisture that cooked tofu has when stored in the fridge the better. The drier it is the longer it will last.
If you want to store raw tofu in the fridge just put it in an airtight container and cover it with water. The water will help to preserve it until you can use it up.
Freezing your tofu is a good solution if you have too much on hand to eat before it goes bad. It can be stored in the freezer whether it is raw or cooked.
Put it in an airtight container and store it for 2 to 3 months. Freezing tofu also gives it much more texture that replicates the texture of meat.
Tofu Guide Conclusion
I hope that you were able to find this tofu guide article on how to cook tofu useful and maybe even learned something new!
Tofu is one of those vegan foods that can feel intimidating at first but it doesn’t have to be. Tofu is relatively easy to cook and can be made in such a variety of ways.
You can spice it up to have Mexican-inspired tofu or season it to taste like your favorite chicken dish. You could dunk it in teriyaki sauce or cover it in comforting barbecue sauce. The sky is the limit with what you can do with it.
What is your favorite way of cooking tofu and how do you season and flavor it? Do you have any extra tips that weren’t mentioned in this article?