When we asked you guys to ask us anything last week, we got a lot of questions about tofu. What is it? How do you cook it? How do you store it? Most importantly - how do you make it not taste like a big block of bland? Read below to learn a lot more about tofu, one of our favorite foods.
WHAT IS IT?
Tofu is basically soybean bean curd, and is made through a process not too unlike making cheese. It’s not some weird healthy food - it’s good food that just happens to be pretty nutritious that’s gotten a bad rap over the years. I know I’ve had my share of terrible tofu dishes out in the wild, but that doesn’t mean it’s inherently tasteless or bland. It’s the opposite: tofu is like a giant sponge, ready to be absorbed by any flavor you give it, and if you prepare it right it will be great.
WHAT KIND SHOULD I BUY?
- We buy this super-firm high-protein tofu, because you don’t have to press it before you use it and it’s more nutrient dense. We use it for everything!
- Very firm and firm tofu are best for stir fries, tofu scrambles, and any dish you want the tofu to stick together.
- Soft and silken tofu are best for sauces, smoothies, soups, pies, and any dish you want the tofu to be more of a liquid.
HOW DO I PREP IT?
If you’re not using the super firm tofu, you’ll need to press it before you cook it. To press:
- Drain out the liquid from the tofu package.
- Wrap the block of tofu in a thick towel.
- Place the wrapped tofu on a plate, then put another plate on top. Place a stack of books or something heavy on top. Let sit for at least 30 minutes.
You need to press out the water in the tofu so you can get flavor in it. Imagine the block like a sponge full of water - once you press the water out, all of the holes in the sponge are empty. That’s what you want! Pressing makes the tofu more dense and chewy, rather than wet and soggy, and will end up in a better flavor for you later.
The beauty of tofu is that there are so many ways to prepare it. Usually, I fry it or steam it after marinating it. Below I’ve put together four dishes that use slightly different processes. These all make great quick weekday meals, and the marinated ones get better with age. :)
This is a stir fry made with marinated tofu. The tofu was marinated overnight in a mixture of kimchi, apple cider vinegar, olive oil, black pepper, and a little cayenne. I put chopped onion, bell pepper, and the tofu on to cook in some of the marinade itself. Once the tofu started getting crispy and the onions were caramelized, I tossed in the cooked noodles and ate up!
One of my favorites: a Canadian BLT. (Meaning: tofu Canadian bacon.) I very thinly sliced some tofu and let it marinate overnight in soy sauce, liquid smoke, maple syrup, sriracha, and salt and pepper. In the morning, I fried it up on a pan and ate it in a sandwich with garlic vegenaise, lettuce, and tomato.
A tofu scramble recipe can vary wildly between people, and for me I change it up every time I make it. This one is a mix of tofu, butternut squash, dried cranberry, and spices - but the main ingredients for a scramble usually include tofu, turmeric, olive oil, vegetables, garlic, and salt and pepper. Just crumble up your tofu into a pan with your ingredients and cook until you’re happy with the texture. (I like it to be really crispy!) Scrambles are so great because they can introduce you to brand new ways of eating. I used to hate mushrooms and any leafy green, but by chopping them up in small bits and increasing the size each time, I’m eating them at every meal of the day.
This is my boyfriend’s favorite way to eat tofu: shake n’ bake tofu. Toss some small cubes of tofu in a ziplock bag with nutritional yeast, flour, garlic & onion powder, bouillon powder, salt and pepper, and a dash of cayenne. Shake up the bag until everything’s coated. Fry the cubes in a hot oiled pan until golden brown, and serve on a salad or with barbecue sauce or with anything, really!
HOW DO I STORE TOFU?
If you have leftover tofu from your package (without any flavoring added to it), store it covered in water in a sealable container for up to a week. Change out the water every two days to keep it fresh.
You can store the marinating tofu in the fridge for up to a few days. But really, I can never keep it in my fridge for that long :)