Tofu Cooking for Beginners
Tofu can be a little intimidating at first try, but with these top 3 tips, we can show you how to prepare and cook your tofu to taste great every time.
Must Have’s For Cooking Tofu
Also known as that spongy, tasteless block of soy that plant-based, vegan, and vegetarian eaters seem to enjoy cooking and eating.
You might look at a block of tofu like: what am I supposed to do with this? How do I cook it?
It can be frustrating and confusing.
Plus, by now I’m sure you’re remembering a time you did try it and you immediately thought to yourself, why would anyone eat this? It taste like nothing?
While the simple block of tofu does taste like nothing, we also know that if you can prepare and cook tofu correctly, it tastes great and works in almost any dish you can think of.
We’ve come up with 3 simple tips that are vital for making the best tofu. Simple, yes, but if not taken into consideration, it can be detrimental to your tofu cooking endeavors.
Tofu Tip #1: The Kind Of Tofu You Buy Matters
We’ve probably all passed through natural foods, or meat alternatives, section and stared at those packages labeled Tofu, and quickly realized that there are multiple options. With so many options with hardly any direction, it makes the decision go from confusing to down right overwhelming.
For simplicity and beginner purposes, we’ve stuck to buying firm or extra-firm tofu. It fits all of our current tofu recipe needs. It’s a good place to start if you are using tofu as your “meat” replacement.
Tofu Tip #2: Before you cook it, press it
If you’ve ever opened a package of tofu, you were probably a little surprised when a liquid started seeping out of the plastic (if not a little grossed out, too). Tofu sits in this liquid for preservation purposes. Therefore, you should drain the liquid out of the tofu package.
But draining is not where you stop.
Pressing the tofu is necessary for creating a good foundation for cooking, especially if you want any flavor. You want to remove as much excess liquid as possible. This allows the tofu to cook correctly and soak up any of the sauces, broths, or spices you may use in your future recipes.
There are specialized gadgets out there, called tofu presses, but you can easily do it with stuff you already have in your kitchen.
How to press tofu without a tofu press:
- After draining the liquid from the package, thinly slice your tofu block (without it falling apart)
- Lie tofu pieces on a flat surface, like your counter, on top of kitchen towels or paper towel
- Either fold over towel or cover with another towel or paper towels
- Use a large cutting board, pan or other similar object to place on top
- Then place heavy objects (bottles, books, fruit basket, etc.) on top of that so there is a weight pushing down to create a ‘press’
- Then let the tofu press for at least 5-10 minutes.
If you can press longer, do it. Again, relieving the tofu of as much excess liquid as possible will leave you with a much better foundation for cooking. Therefore, more room for flavor.
Tofu Tip #3: Don’t be afraid of sauces & spices
I can’t stress this enough. Not only are there benefits in a lot of sauces and spices, when chosen wisely, but there is something seemingly overlooked- flavor.
Since we’ve already established that tofu has zero flavor in and of itself, that doesn’t mean it can’t be easily transformed into a flavorful food.
For example, a staple in plant-based diets, especially for beginners, is the tofu scramble and without the oils, broths, and spices, it just wouldn’t BE tofu scramble! Those are the ingredients that make it part of a delicious meal.
Marinating tofu is also another great option for getting past it’s bland, natural, flavor. This article has great advice for marinating and frying up fantastic tofu.
Go Cook Great Tofu
For first timers or beginners, we recommend starting with a simple tofu scramble, which can be great over avocado toast, in a savory breakfast bowl, paired with collard greens and oven-roasted potatoes, or wrapped in a tortilla with other vegetables, potatoes or chickpeas.