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Tofu Tips

Posted Apr 19 2011 3:15am

When I posted my Peanut Sauce Baked Tofu recipe…

…I got quite a few comments from readers who are having a hard time getting their at-home tofu attempts to turn out like they hoped.  Never fear, I have some tips.

Here are some of my Tofu-Making Suggestions and Tips

For anyone who doesn’t “like” tofu, it’s likely because of the preparation technique. Then again, Katie told me no matter what, she just doesn’t like it.  Fair enough.

In my opinion, raw/uncooked tofu is mushy, bland, and gross.  How to change that?

You must press it. Get that water out.  Get the mush out.

This is the tofu press I use and here is a post with a visual guide on using it.

If you don’t have a tofu press and can’t see spending money on it, then press your tofu in between two heavy frying pans or heavy pots and pans. Be prepared to go through a lot of paper towels as the water is pressed out.  The nice thing about the tofu press is that the tofu juice, i.e. water, is all contained neatly in the box and a half roll of paper towels isn’t needed.

For cooking and just “regular” eating, buy firm or extra firm tofu. Leave the medium or soft tofu for baking applications in which you are blending tofu into recipes, i.e. a block of tofu blended as part of a pudding recipe.  Or, soft/medium is fine if you’re doing a tofu scramble.  But for all the recipes I have where you are eating tofu as an entree or star of the show, you want firm or extra firm.

Soft tofu has the most water in it, i.e. the mushiest.  Extra firm has the least amount of water in it, i.e. the firmest and will hold together the best for cooking.  Also, when you press tofu, the most water will “leak” out of soft and the least amount of water from extra firm.  I see no reason why one would ever buy soft tofu and then press it, but that’s a whole other post, I’m sure.

After pressing the tofu, you must marinade and flavor it or it’s bland and tasteless.  Some people are okay with this; most, including me, are not.

Use a stronger and more potent marinade than you think you need.   Lots of the marinade flavor gets lost or “disappears” in the cooking process so it’s okay to start stronger than you think you want the finished tofu.

Slice tofu into uniform sizes so everything cooks at the same rate.

I like thin strips because they cook faster, and are not mushy when done.  Cubes, “logs”, strips, triangles, it all works just keep in mind that if you choose to use cubes (cute) when you’re flipping them while cooking, there are lots of cubes per block of tofu in comparison to thin strips to flip (I usually get 17-19 thin strips per block of tofu).  It’s all about least amount of effort for me.

If you open a package of tofu, drain the water out, freeze the tofu in the white container, then thaw it, then press it, then bake it, you will get a bread-like texture.  Sounds like lots of steps but it’s just drain and freeze, press and drain, cook.

See my Pumpkin Honey “Bread” Tofu recipe for more info on the freezing tofu technique .

It’s like pumpkin “bread” rather than tofu.  Sponge-like and soft.

If you plan to bake your tofu after marinating, I like to bake at at least 400F but usually about 425-450 for about 25 minutes total, flipping once at about the 15-20 minute mark and then cooking on the second side until desired level.

I find a hotter oven temperature (like 425-450F/25 minutes) gives a nicer outer “sear” and crispness better than cooking at lower temps/longer duration (325F/45 minutes).


If you plan to broil your tofu, 8-10 minutes on the first side, 3 to 6 on the second side, but do not leave the kitchen while broiling.  No exceptions as I stated in the recipe section for the Peanut Sauce Baked Tofu .  You don’t want to lose all your hard work by charring it which can happen in 60 seconds.  From raw to scorched in a minute under the broiler can happen.

If you plan to fry or pan-sear the tofu on the stovetop, I love sesame or peanut oil for this.  Start with a block of pressed and sliced tofu.  Don’t marinate it. (That’s an exception to my marinating rule)  After you fry/sear the tofu and flip over carefully in the pan to sear all sides, then add the marinade or sauce you’re using.  If you try to add sauce or marinade to un-seared stovetop tofu, I find the result to be mushy tofu that never really gets cooked properly.  And, the marinade just gets lost, too.  Sear/pan fry first, then sauce it up.

Cooked/prepared Tofu will keep in the refrigerator for many days.  I am not advocating you wait five days to eat your tofu leftovers but I have forgotten about tofu I’ve made five days later, eaten it, and lived to tell the tale without incident.  I think 2-3 days is a very safe bet.

If you’re going to the work of pressing, marinating, and baking it, you may as well make two blocks and have planned leftovers is my thought process.

Use parchment paper lined-cookie sheets when cooking your tofu.  Save yourself cleanup time!  Some people just use cooking spray but I take it one step further and just pick up the whole piece of paper and hardly even have to wash my cookie sheet when I’m done.

After all that Tofu Talk, it’s time for cookie dough and chocolate.

From my last post about the Bars I reviewed and Creating Your Perfect Snack Bar , I am glad you liked my recipe ideas that were similar to the bars.

And thanks for filling me in on what ingredients would go into your perfect snack bar.  As I said, I’m using those comments for recipe development so if you have an ingredient you want used and incorporated, let me know.  Seems that peanut butter and chocolate were consistent favorites.  Surprise, surprise.

Questions

1. Do you like Tofu?  Favorite recipe or way to eat it?

I spent my life up until the past five years or so liking tofu that I ate when out or WF’s tofu, but could not for the life of me figure out how to recreate it successfully at home.

Once I figured it out, it’s been great because I don’t have to pay for WF’s hot bar tofu which for me comes out to about $10 bucks for what I guesstimate to be a block’s worth of tofu that I can buy for $1.50  Highway robbery!

So although I give WF’s tofu major props, making it at home is rewarding since I can control the flavors and save tons of money.

2. Do you have any tofu cooking or preparation tips?

Enlighten me!

All the tips I posted were based on my own experience and in no way are gospel and law on tofu, but just my tips and suggestions that work for me.  Your mileage may vary.

3. Need any other kitchen tip posts?

How to clean and core a whole pineapple at home in 90 seconds

How to wash and chop a head of lettuce at home in 90 seconds

How to save money on your grocery budget

 

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