Have you ever wanted to try tofu, but didn’t know where to start? Or maybe (like me) your first attempt didn’t go so well? You should definitely give tofu a chance… or a second chance as the case may be. It’ll add a nice variety to your protein repertoire and serve as the base for many tasty dishes.
I first tried cooking tofu when my boyfriend started ordering it at restaurants after reading Michael Pollan’s Omnivore’s Dilemna (which is a great read, by the way. I highly recommend it!!). I may have started making it for him, but now I make it for myself. It’s a great way to get your protein while having a meatless meal.
If you’ve tried tofu before but didn’t like it, it was probably a texture thing. If not prepared correctly, tofu can be a soft, wet, unappetizing mess. But if you fix it right, it can have a great texture. Plus, tofu acts like a flavor sponge so as long as your sauce or marinade is good, your tofu will be good!
The first step to tofu perfection is choosing the right tofu. You want to make sure you get extra firm or super firm. Be aware, silken tofu is also graded. So pay attention because you DO NOT want extra firm silken tofu! (Learn from my mistake.) Wildwood (pictured below) is my favorite brand.
So now that you’ve got your extra firm (non-silken) tofu and you’ve taken it out of the packaging, what do you do? Don’t be intimidated by the pale block in front of you. It’s time to conquer your fear! Just two simple steps will make it edible.
The first thing you want to do is portion it and freeze it. That’s right, I said freeze it. Freezing greatly improves tofu’s texture. You don’t want to cook it on the same day you buy it. I keep tofu in my freezer so it’s ready to cook whenever I decide to have a meatless meal.
I separate mine into 5 oz. portions. If you haven’t tried out these Ziplock Perfect Portion bags, you should! They are wonderful! They make it easy to defrost the right amount of meat and keep those yucky meat germs off the outside of your bags. After you portion the tofu, put it in a freezer bag and stick it in the freezer.
Move your tofu to the refrigerator the night before you want to use it. Once it’s defrosted you want to press the tofu. The more moisture you get out, the better the texture. First, I cut the tofu in half so it’s thinner.
You can either use a tofu press or use a couple cutting boards. If you choose the second option, place the tofu on paper towels on a cutting board and cover with more paper towels and another cutting board. Then put something heavy on top of the cutting board. I use my enameled cast iron dutch oven.
I like to press my tofu for an hour or more but at least give it 30 minutes. Check the paper towels periodically and change if they become saturated.
Once your tofu is pressed, it’s edible. Now it’s time to make it enjoyable! My favorite ways to cook tofu are to stirfry it, sear it, bake it, or fry it. I generally don’t recommend it in something like a curry. You’re adding back all that moisture you took out.