TV shows and movies presented hilarious scenes where someone had to try out badly cooked tofu. It was supposedly an ordeal that escalates into a funny ending. It might have left the wrong idea with many people though!
Tofu is a superfood packed with health benefits. It only needs to be cooked the right way and assimilated into flavorful dishes.
Here’s a full guide on how to cook tofu and make it tasty.
Step 1: Choose a Suitable Type of tofu
A few decades back, tofu came in a single form, and it could be bought from a handful of stores only. Nowadays it’s everywhere and there are numerous forms to choose from. Try to look for organic, non-GMO brands.
The basic types are classified according to the consistency of the tofu as follows:
The soft or silky variety of tofu is often used where an extra body or more protein is needed. It lends itself nicely to soups, sauces, pudding, smoothies, and dips. It could also be used as a vegan replacement for eggs in some recipes.
Medium & Firm Tofu
This is a versatile form of tofu, and it finds its way into many dishes. It crumbles effortlessly, so it’s often used as a substitute for ricotta cheese, it lends itself easily to stir-frying, and it can be used as a solo act as a tofu scramble.
Extra-firm tofu is the kind that gets sliced and diced. This, of course, opens up infinite possibilities for culinary creativity.
After the initial pressing to get the water out of the tofu slab, you can cut it in any way you like. Then, mix it up with one of a gazillion different sauces, and pop it in the oven or fry it in a pan. If you’re in the mood for grilling, by all means, fire up a BBQ and grill a few tofu bars. Heavenly!
Step 2: Press the Water Out of the Tofu
The water contained inside the tofu could detract from its taste and texture when it’s cooked. It’s best then to reduce that wetness as much as possible, especially if you enjoy a bit of a crunch.
The common way of drying out the tofu slab is by wrapping it up in food cloth, and applying weight on top of it. Usually, we use an iron skillet with a couple of cans inside it.
Alternatively, you can use a tofu press, which is a small box-like gadget, with a lid that clips on the sides. If you leave the tofu there for a few hours, most of its retained water is drained out.
Step 3: Cut the Tofu Into Interesting Shapes
A slab of tofu is hardly an appetizing sight. You can cut it up into little cubes, bars, or wedges. If you are extra creative, use a cookie cutter to get fancy shapes.
If you stack the slab and cut it uniformly across and along, you’ll save a lot of time, and get more uniform pieces. You can also use rustic looking cubes, no trouble all, and no need to get out a ruler or a set-square.
Step 4: Decide on a Recipe, or Several of Them
Tofu is a versatile food that can be fashioned into hundreds of recipes. Moreover, most of them are easy to cook. That’s why you could cut up a batch of tofu pieces, and use them to make several dishes. Variety is always good.
Even though tofu can be presented in a broad range of ways, there are some basic cooking methods that they all start with.
- Deep Frying
Step 5: Marinate the Tofu
tofu has a rather neutral taste. So if you leave it to be itself, you’d end up with a bland spongy bite. Even a superfood like tofu wouldn’t get far ahead with such a taste.
Use water-based marinades, as tofu isn’t too fond of oil, and wouldn’t let it cross a millimetre past its outer surface. This would clearly limit the flavors from merging with the tofu.
Soy sauce is one of the fundamental elements used in flavoring tofu. It’s often used with a bunch of spices and herbs to add intriguing layers of taste. A seasoning as simple as a pinch of salt, pepper, and garlic powder could transform tofu into a gourmet dish.
Add the marinade to the tofu blocks, and leave them in the fridge to mix and socialize for about an hour, more if you like. tofu has the demeanor of a sponge, so it would eventually take in the marinade. As long as it’s oil-free of course.
Keep some of the marinade or sauce aside. It would refresh the taste of tofu if you add some of it as the tofu is nearly done cooking.
Step 6: Sprinkle the Tofu with Cornstarch
Cornstarch doesn’t add taste, but it adds a layer of crunchy texture. Whether you’re going to fry, broil, or grill the tofu, this layer will definitely improve the end result.
The soft crunch isn’t all that you get from the cornstarch. It also gives a shiny glaze, and thickens the sauce around the tofu.
You could also add the cornstarch to the marinade. This is also seen in many Asian food recipes.
Step 7: Cook the Tofu
You can use a sheet pan, a grill, or a non-stick pan to cook the tofu. It wouldn’t need much heat to be ready, and you don’t need to make sure that it’s thoroughly done. The intent of the whole cooking procedure is to add flavor and adjust the texture. Tofu is already eatable.
After you give it an initial layer of taste, you can use the tofu as a side, or incorporate it into more elaborate culinary arrangements.
A simple but fascinating option is coating the tofu cubes with BBQ sauce, then presenting them as a ringer of buffalo wings.
You can also serve them with a soy sauce mix, toss them with some white rice and veggies, sprinkle some sesame seeds on top, a dash of spring onions, and you’ll have a Teriyaki dish.
You can incorporate the tofu into a salad, a stir-fry, a mixed grill, or any food type you can think of. There are so many mouth-watering tofu recipes. They’re easy to prepare, have an appealing taste, and take under an hour to prepare. Not bad at all!
To Sum Up
Healthy foods aren’t always the tastiest options on the menu. However, a few clever tricks can do wonders.
I hope this guide on how to cook tofu gives you some culinary inspiration.