The 7 Commandments of Tofu

Tofu: a simple food for some, and a religion for others. Its vegetable protein content and ability to easily soak up surrounding flavours make it a very popular ingredient. Here are the 7 commandments of tofu. They might just turn you into a convert!

1. Know thy tofu

Generally, silken tofu is packaged in a plastic container or Tetra Pak. Available in a soft or semi-firm texture, it breaks apart easily, melts in your mouth and lends velvety richness to smoothies.

Tofu sold in sous-vide packaging tends to be firm or extra-firm. It is easy to cube or slice and is perfect for sautéing. Serving for serving, firm tofu offers about three times as much protein as its smooth counterpart, simply because it contains less water.

2. Practise pressing

Because tofu contains a lot of water, straining alone won’t remove enough H2O. To press tofu, cut the block into slices, place a clean dishtowel between each slice and weigh the whole thing down with a cast-iron skillet (or a large can) until the water seeps out. Properly pressed tofu should absorb the maximum amount of flavour from your recipe or marinade.

3. Befriend your freezer

Throw the whole block (packaging and all) into the freezer when you get home from the grocery store. To defrost, place in the fridge a few days before cooking. Then press it to easily remove excess water.

4. Prolong the shelf life

An opened package of extra-firm tofu will keep for a few days in the fridge. To maintain its freshness, submerge in water and refresh the water daily, just like you would peeled potatoes.

5. Prepare a marinade 

Tofu is a master of disguise. It absorbs any flavour it comes in contact with, especially when properly pressed. In this deli sandwich, the beet juice serves as the marinade. For inspiration beyond classic Asian aromas, try Indian combinations (ginger, turmeric, curry) or Texan ones (chili, paprika, cumin). Ideally, for intense flavour, leave tofu to soak overnight, or at least 12 hours.

6. Use cornstarch

It’s the game-changing secret ingredient for an Asian restaurant-worthy crust. Generously coat the cubes or slices in cornstarch and fry in some oil. For best results, use a non-stick pan.

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7. Mix textures 

Cubes aren’t the only option! Here are various techniques for preparing tofu:

  1. Try grating it, like in this recipe for vegetarian tacos.
  2. Crumble it and every little morsel will coat itself in flavour.
  3. Break it apart with your fingers and add it to a sauce, slice it, mash it with a fork or julienne it like french fries.
  4. You can even find it in sheets in some Asian grocery stores!

Want to make homemade tofu? Here’s the recipe!