Cooking with Tofu
A fresh batch of tofu made from your SoyQuick Automatic Soymilk Maker and tofu kit is a great ingredient for many different recipes ranging through the menu from appetizers to desserts. It is extremely adaptable because it is able to easily absorb a rich marinade or the flavor of other ingredients in a dish. Tofu makes a great addition to any cook's pantry.
There are many different types of tofu density ranging from soft to extra firm.
Soft tofu does not hold its shape well and is the best choice for dips, sauces, dressings, and desserts. It is an excellent substitute for eggs in baked goods as it acts as a binding agent. Soft tofu is also excellent in a tofu shake.
Firm tofu is much more solid and holds its shape well making it the best choice for marinating, stir-frying, grilling, and stewing. Firm tofu is often used as a replacement for meat in popular recipes such as chili and sloppy joes.
You can change the texture of your firm tofu in three ways:
- Freezing and thawing - when you freeze, thaw, then squeeze out the water, the tofu ends up more porous so that it soaks up marinades and other liquids quickly and makes it more chewy.
- Boiling - boiling causes the outside of the tofu to be cooked more than the inside making it a little tougher, which is great if using it for a meat substitute. It also enhances its ability to absorb seasonings and marinades.
- Pressing - if you need extra firm tofu and happen to have soft or medium firm tofu, use this technique to change its density. Place a block of tofu between towels and put a heavy weight on top, such as a pot full of water or books, and let is sit for an hour.
The use of tofu in cooking is only limited by your imagination. You can do anything to it including mash, blend, whip, grind, crumble, marinate, simmer, steam, bake, broil, sauté, barbeque, fry, and deep-fry. Hot or cold, cooked or uncooked, your options for using tofu are unlimited.
Here are some things to keep in mind when cooking with tofu:
- Tofu has very little flavor on its own, but it will pick up the flavors of the ingredients it is cooked with.
- Choose the texture of tofu that fits the best with the recipe you are making.
- If a recipe calls for blending tofu until smooth, put the tofu in the blender before all other ingredients and blend it until there is no grainy texture left. Keep testing and scraping down the side occasionally. If not blended enough, the whole texture of the dish may be changed from what it should be.
Methods of Cooking
Marinating tofu is a great way to add flavor to it. Start with firm or extra-firm tofu as it is the most porous and has the most room to absorb the liquid. Cut the block of tofu into smaller pieces and soak in your favorite marinade. Marinated tofu can be used in cooked dishes, or in cold dishes such as salads.
In a soup or stew where there is a great deal of liquid, you can lock in the flavor of your tofu by cooking it with a little oil before adding it to the recipe. Deep fry, pan fry, or broil it with a little non-stick cooking spray to seal in the flavor and keep it from being leached out by the broth or soup.
Grilling or Broiling
Marinate 1" thick slices of extra-firm tofu, then place on a lightly oiled rack and grill or broil until a light crust forms.
Sautéing or Stir-frying
Cut firm or extra-firm tofu into small pieces and place in a hot pan (make sure the pan is hot first or the tofu will stick). Once the tofu has browned, remove it from the pan and add any other ingredients to complete the recipe. Your last step will be to add in the browned tofu to simmer gently with the rest of the ingredients.
Cut firm or extra-firm tofu in to small pieces and simmer gently in your favorite soup or stew.
Puree soft tofu with herbs and other favorite ingredients for a creamy salad dressing. This tofu dressing works well as a substitute for ranch dressing or any other type of cream dressing. You can also puree soft tofu and substitute it for mayonnaise or sour cream dip.
Use soft tofu as a substitute for cream cheese in cheesecake, as a base for a pudding, or a sweetened topping for fruit. Puree the tofu along with sweeteners and flavorings. Soy custard, also known as "tofu fa", is a delicious dessert enjoyed in many Asian countries. Click here to find out how to make it for yourself.
As an example of what you can do with tofu, here is a sample recipe created by internationally renowned natural food chef Jan London:
Yield: 8 small cutlets
- 1 block Tofu
- 1 to 2 TB vegetable oil such as corn, safflower, olive
- Shoyu or tamari
- Press water from tofu to reach a firm consistency.
- Slice into its 4 defined sections and slice those in half lengthwise.
- Heat oil in a skillet and add the cutlets. Fry on each side until crisp. Or, use a skillet with a non-stick surface and cook without oil. Brush on a mixture of shoyu and cumin just before the end of cooking.
- Serve with lettuce on bread brushed with olive oil, in a salad with pumpkin oil and balsamic vinegar, or add it to stir fried vegetables.