Tofu, King of Vegetarian Cuisine

Types of tofu

There are two main types of tofu: pressed or silken. Each type is available in varying degrees of firmness, from soft to extra firm. That being said, pressed tofu is always firmer than silken tofu.

Pressed tofu is spongy and a bit grainy. It works well in dishes such as sautés, shepherd’s pie, meatloaf, skewers, soup and more. It is normally sold in plastic packaging, but can also be found in bulk in some Asian grocery stores. 

Silken tofu has a smooth and creamy texture. It is perfect in lasagna, dips, milkshakes or for making desserts. It comes in plastic containers and can be found in the refrigerated product section of natural food stores or grocery stores, or can also be found on store shelves packaged in aseptic containers (tetra packs) that do not require refrigeration.

How to make it

Tofu is made by grinding and cooking soybeans. The extracted soymilk is coagulated to make tofu. For firm tofu, the resulting curd is pressed and drained. For silken tofu, lactose is added to the liquid to help make it firm and to ensure it preserves water. Silken tofu is not drained or pressed.

How to store it

An unopened, hermetically sealed package of tofu will keep in the fridge until its “best before” date. Pressed tofu should be covered in water and kept in an airtight container in the fridge after it has been opened or if it has been bought in bulk. It will keep a week in the fridge if you change the soaking water every day.

Silken tofu sold in an aseptic container does not require refrigeration before being opened.  After it has been opened, store it in the fridge in its original packaging or place it in an airtight container, without water, where it will keep two or three days.

How to freeze it

Pressed tofu can be put in the freezer but it has a grainier, chewier texture once thawed. Freezing also makes it turn a light yellow colour. Wrap it in plastic wrap, then aluminum foil, or put it in a plastic freezer bag before placing in the freezer. Don’t keep it in the freezer for longer than two months. As for silken tofu, it does not react well to freezing. It loses its water and becomes curdled.

How to tell if tofu has gone bad

Smell is a good indication of freshness. Tofu has a subtle odour when it’s fresh, a smell that is slightly tinged with hazelnut. It releases a pungent odour when it is past its prime and no longer fit for consumption.

Cooking with tofu

Tofu has a rather neutral taste that improves when it’s mixed with ingredients with a kick. You could, for example, marinate tofu and then cook it with garlic, ginger, green onions, tamari or soy sauce, rice or cider vinegar, sesame or another type of oil, or cook it with one of the above without any marinade at all. You will also find marinated, pre-seasoned tofu on the market, often sliced or cut into cubes, as well as sweet and flavoured silken tofu that are ready to eat. So many delicious ideas to discover!

Stéphanie Côté