Learn how to cut, marinate, and sear tofu for flavorful, protein-packed vegetarian dishes.See More: Tofu Recipes
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How to Make Tofu Taste Good
Most proteins&mdashlike chicken, steak, and pork&mdashare delicious even when they're seasoned simply with salt and pepper. Too bad you can't say the same about tofu. Sure, the soy protein is good for you, but often times it tastes that way: boringly bland. The good news is that you can turn it into a food you actually want to eat with these tips.
You've gotta drain it.
Most tofu comes packed in water, so the number one thing you always need to do is drain the block as much as possible. A water-logged block of tofu won't absorb a marinade or get crispy in a frying pan. To drain it, slice the block and place the slices in a single layer on a paper towel-lined baking sheet. Top tofu with more paper towels and then a heavy object (a cast-iron skillet, cookbooks). Let sit at least one hour, preferably two. (Tip: If you know you want tofu for dinner, let it drain in the fridge during the day.) Once drained, you can marinate the tofu or start cooking it.
If you marinate it, skip the oil.
After you've pressed tofu, it's ready to absorb flavor. But the food still retains some water&mdashand as we all know, oil and water don't mix. Go for soy-, citrus-, or vinegar-based marinades instead.
Cornstarch holds the key to crispiness.
Trying to get tofu crispy is a struggle. That's because an important step is oft-overlooked: Tossing the tofu in cornstarch, which helps it take on a truly crispy crust. Place cornstarch in a bowl, add drained or marinated tofu pieces, and toss. A light coat is best to shake off excess, dump it in a colander over the sink.
Make sure the pan is hot, hot, hot.
The biggest mistake you can make when trying to sear any ingredient? A room temperature pan. Before you add tofu, give the oil and pan time to warm up so that the tofu gets an even blast of heat.
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Ditch the olive oil.
Since you're searing tofu, be sure to use an oil that can take the heat&mdashand double as a flavoring agent. Two great options: Sesame oil, which will give tofu a nutty flavor, and coconut oil, which lends a subtle sweetness.
Almost as important as cornstarch? Salt. Sprinkle after searing.
Now that you're ready, get cooking with these must-try, really easy tofu recipes.
What is tofu?
Tofu's origins allegedly date back to in China during the Han Dynasty, and it eventually spread across East and Southeast Asia as a featured ingredient in dishes.
According to documentation of a letter Benjamin Franklin wrote in 1770, he described it as “cheese” from China, and thus it made its way west and, by the 1950s, into American markets. Though it has continued to evolve and grow within Western cuisine, it’s often found lending itself to a role seen more as a substitute for meat, dairy or eggs (see: tofu scramble).
Though tofu is definitively not cheese, the process of making tofu has its similarities to cheese-making. Made from soy milk curds that are coagulated with magnesium and calcium salts, and pressed into blocks of varying textures: silken, soft, medium-firm, firm and extra-firm, depending on how much time allowed for whey to release. Low in calories, high in protein, antioxidants, essential vitamins and nutrients, this flavor sponge is a treasured ingredient in East and Southeast Asian cooking.
12 Sweet Tofu Recipes
Low-fat vegan chocolate spread:
Irresistibly creamy and delicious, this chocolate spread from Simple Vegan Blog is made from just three ingredients. Tofu, cocoa powder and maple syrup, simply combined to make the perfect vegan dupe for your favourite chocolate spread.
Quick and easy chocolate tofu pudding:
The easiest chocolate pudding you’ve ever made, this silky-smooth dessert from Fit Living Eats is ready in just five minutes. Great for a no-fuss finale to a dinner party.
Silken tofu chocolate mousse:
Another simple and delicious chocolate dessert, this 5 minute, 3 ingredient chocolate mousse from As Easy As Apple Pie tastes great garnished with fresh raspberries and a sprig of mint.
If you’re starting to notice a bit of a trend for fast desserts made with minimal ingredients, this strawberry mousse from One Green Planet doesn’t disappoint. With just 3 ingredients and 5 to 10 minutes prep, this is another great, time-saving dessert.
Vietnamese tofu pudding with ginger syrup:
This beautifully simple vietnamese dessert from The Viet Dish combines a delicately creamy, just-set tofu pudding with a sweet, aromatic ginger syrup.
Quick Vegan Chocolate Pie:
Pure decadence from The Spruce Eats, this sumptuous dessert is made from a golden pie crust, with a silky chocolate and peanut butter filling. Who said vegan food was bland?
Easy Vegan Sweet Potato Pie:
A vegan take on a fall classic from The Spruce Eats, this yummy dessert is spiced with cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and vanilla for a wonderfully warm, sweet taste.
Lime and vanilla vegan cheesecake:
This tropical cheesecake recipe from Quite Good Food is creamy, sweet and zesty, with a deliciously chewy crumb casing made from almonds, dates, seeds and coconut oil.
Vegan Peanut Butter Cup Pie:
Another dessert that takes advantage of the classic vegan dessert combo of chocolate and peanut butter, this irresistible dessert from Minimalist Baker has a delicious crumbly graham cracker case and a creamy peanut butter filling topped with chocolate ganache.
Vegan Pumpkin Pie:
The perfect vegan Thanksgiving dessert, this deep-filled pie from The Spruce Eats will have everyone asking for another slice.
Easy vegan tiramisu:
Another super-simple dessert, this time from Vegan on Board, this vegan take on everyone’s favourite Italian dessert uses a mixture of silken tofu and coconut cream to replace the mascarpone.
Vegan No-Bake Key Lime Pie:
This no-bake dessert from The Spruce Eats is a vegan take on the classic key lime pie. With a filling made from silken tofu and lime juice, it’s every bit as creamy, zesty and delicious as the original.
Super adaptable, with the ability to take on a range of different flavours and textures, tofu is an incredibly useful and often delicious ingredient. If you’re hungry for more, take a look at these 10 delicious recipes that will make you love tofu.
10 Tasty Tofu Recipes Worth Trying
These tofu recipes are so delicious, they’ll please vegetarians & meat eaters alike! Here are the best ways to use this plant based protein.
Are you a tofu fan? This plant-based protein couldn’t be more delicious when it’s prepared correctly. Of course right out of the package, it’s flavorless and mushy. But cook it right, and you’ll be singing it’s praises!
Here are all the best recipes for turning this protein into healthy and easy meals. You’ll find our favorite tofu stir fry, an easy way to make it into a full meal with colorful veggies. Try our marinaded tofu that doesn’t require cooking at all. And the tofu scramble saves us often on weeknights and as a healthy breakfast option. You can even make it into pudding.
5 Recipes For Enjoying Tofu the Crispy Way
Tofu lasts for months, is affordable, and is so versatile — especially when it comes to crisping it up.
Food Network Kitchen’s The Best Crispy Tofu, as seen on Food Network.
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Until recently, tofu wasn’t part of my weekly diet. That changed when I was recently loading up my grocery cart with cans of beans and grains, and I noticed a well-stocked section of tofu.
I turned over a container and noticed two key pieces of information. First, the 14 ounce package was just $2. Talk about budget-friendly. Second, the sell-by date was three whole months in the future. There were also freezing instructions on the back (I had no idea you could freeze tofu). After doing a little research about freezing tofu, I learned that frozen, thawed tofu changes texture in a good way: it absorbs more sauce (i.e. flavor) and takes on a chewier, meatier texture.
A healthy, long-lasting. inexpensive (plant-based!) protein is something that belongs in my household right now — and I think it deserves a spot in yours, too, if it isn’t there already.
As a tofu newbie, I was drawn to all the recipes for crispy tofu — and totally fell in love. I’ve noticed that many recipes start with firm or extra-firm tofu, which you can sear like a big slab of meat, then toss in a sauce so flavorful that all your taste buds sing and dance. The greatest part? The tofu remains crispy, despite the fact that it’s soaked up so much sauce. Below, some of my favorite recipes to whet your appetite.
The first tenant of crispy tofu? Eliminate as much water as possible by wrapping it in a dish towel and pressing it under something heavy like a cast iron skillet. The second? Don’t move it around while it cooks in the pan. This recipe incorporates both of those techniques, plus a coating of panko bread crumbs for extremely crispy results. Right before serving, drizzle over a sticky sauce made from soy sauce, lime juice, agave syrup, scallion whites and sriracha.
Tofu is made from mature, white soybeans, not like green edamame which is at a different point of maturity. The soybeans are soaked, crushed, and then mixed with water to form a slurry. Then, the slurry is then strained into soymilk. Next, the soymilk is mixed with a coagulant such as nigiri, calcium sulfate, or glucono delta-lactone. Once the soymilk has been coagulated, curds form, much like the cheese-making process, which are then pressed into blocks. The longer it’s pressed, the firmer the resulting tofu is.
Best tofu recipes
Tofu always comes with a little of its liquid in the packaging, so its best to drain it thoroughly on kitchen paper before frying, to prevent it from spitting too much. You can then cut into whatever size pieces you like, or even keep whole. Heat 1cm of oil in a frying pan until hot, then fry the tofu on all sides until browned and crisp, around 30 seconds – 1 minute each side. Drain on kitchen paper, season and serve.
To make crispy tofu, cook for 2 to 3 minutes on each side until really caramelised.
Can you eat tofu raw?
Yes you can. Silken tofu is often served on top of dishes, as its name says it is prized for its soft texture and is sometimes served chilled. Normal tofu can be eaten raw, but is often fried to add extra texture and flavour to it.
How do you cook silken tofu?
This is often cubed and added to soups and stews, right at the very end. As it is quite fragile it is added at the end of cooking to warm through, with minimal stirring as you want to keep it whole in the final dish.
How To Cook Tofu In The Oven
Alright, let’s talk about how to cook tofu! To bake tofu in the oven, simply:
- Drain the tofu. First things first — even the most firm varieties of tofu contain lots of extra water. So in order to get our tofu nice and crispy, we need to drain some of that our first. To do so, slice your block of tofu into 2 or 3 slabs (depending on the shape of your tofu block, each slab should be about 3/4 to 1-inch thick). Then lay some paper towels or a clean tea towel on a flat surface, and place the slabs side by side on top of the paper towels. Cover with another layer of paper towels on top of the tofu. Then place a cutting board on top, and stack a bunch of heavy cans or pots or whatever you can safely balance on the cutting board. The idea is to put a lot of pressure/weight on the tofu, which will help the excess water to press out into the paper towels. Let the tofu drain for at least 15-30 minutes.
- Cut the tofu. Once the tofu has drained, remove the weights and paper towels. And use a knife to cut the tofu into your desired shapes. I typically just make little cubes (about 3/4-inch each), but you can cut any size of triangles, rectangles, or other shapes that you’d like. Of course, the thickness of your shapes will determine your crispy-outside to soft-inside ratio. So if you want even crispier bites of tofu, make your shapes a bit thinner.
- Coat the tofu. Then add your tofu to a large mixing bowl. Drizzle it with olive oil, and toss gently to coat. Sprinkle evenly with cornstarch and seasonings (I use garlic powder, salt and pepper). Toss gently again until the tofu is evenly coated.
- Arrange on a baking sheet. Then turn the tofu out onto a parchment-covered baking sheet, and arrange it so that the tofu is in an even layer (not overlapping).
- Bake until crispy. Bake at 400°F for 15 minutes. Then remove the baking sheet from the oven, and flip each of the tofu bites so that they can cook evenly on the other side. Return to the oven for 15 more minutes, or until the tofu reaches your desired level of crispiness. Then remove and…
- Serve warm! And enjoy!!
This style of tofu is complete with minimal curdling and processing, resulting in a product that is delicate in both texture and flavor. There are several ingredients that can be used to coagulate silken tofu, each producing a slightly different effect. For more jiggle and bounce, glucono delta lactone is added, whereas to achieve a softer result, nigari or gypsum is stirred in. Either way, it’s set in the same container it’s made in.
Historically, the Koreans enjoyed silken tofu in their jigae stew, while the Japanese incorporated it into hiyayakko, a simple dish made from chilled tofu and toppings with ginger, scallions, and soy sauce. Now, this doesn’t preclude silken tofu from packing a punch—it’s 40 percent protein, making it a lovely addition to your health-conscious smoothies, sauces, and even desserts.
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