Tofu: Tips ‘n’ Techniques!
The 2 main types widely available to buy in the UK are Firm & Silken.
Blocks of firm tofu are generally found in the fridge section of supermarkets and the leading brand is by Cauldron but there is now also a brand called Tofoo. I buy both of these. (They both also have flavoured tofu in their ranges which are ready to cook straight from the pack without any draining/ pressing or marinating).
Silken tofu is in a box/carton which is generally located on the aisle shelf in the world foods sections. It’s a totally different texture and much softer than firm. My favourite brand is an organic one by Clearspring.
For firm tofu there are a couple of options on how to prepare it.
- If you don’t mind a softer texture you can drain the liquid and use it straight out the pack.
- If you prefer a firmer texture then after draining you can press it to squeeze out even more liquid. You can press it by wrapping in kitchen paper and dish cloths and weighing it down with heavy objects (…books, casserole dishes, toasters… you name it!) The longer you leave it the firmer the texture but usually 30 minutes to an hour will be fine.
- Another option here is to freeze the whole pack. You can then defrost the tofu and use without pressing, as the excess liquid will drain out during defrosting.
For silken tofu you can use it as is straight from the pack.
Because firm tofu has more texture you can slice it or cut into pieces or crumble it (more info under Cooking).
Silken is generally best for blitzing into puddings etc or for tofu scramble but it can also be sliced and deep-fried but it won’t hold the same sort of shape as firm tofu
Once you have pressed your tofu, you can flavour it by marinating with various herbs, spices and sauces.
Tofu is very sponge like and will absorb whatever flavours you coat it with. The longer you leave it to soak in the dressing, the stronger the flavours, however it is not necessary to leave it marinating for very long periods, even several minutes will suffice.
You can also simply add your sauces of choice whilst cooking or directly before cooking and still achieve excellent results.
Experiment with different ways and find what you like best.
Tofu is so versatile and tastes great cooked in many different ways. Here are some examples:
- Fry – stir fry in oil with herbs, spices, soy sauce etc or marinate then shallow fry.
- Deep fry – coat with batter or breadcrumbs and deep fry
- Bake – you can marinate your tofu then bake it in the oven (either in small pieces or larger slices).
- Scramble – simply crumble firm or silken tofu into a frying pan (more info under Suggestions).
- BBQ, Airfry, George Foreman grill, Waffle iron… try cooking it in as many ways as you can think of!
- Simply add straight to the pot with soups/ stews etc.
- Tofu scramble – crumble tofu of choice into a frying pan with a little oil and add Turmeric to add colour and Nutritional Yeast and soy sauce for flavour. If you like an eggy flavour you can add Black Salt (Kala namak – it’s actually pink in colour) keep stirring until cooked to desired consistency. Try adding other flavours and/or ingredients. Mushrooms, onion and baby tomatoes go really well as do peppers and courgette. A lovely breakfast/ brunch dish, or indeed at any time of day! Goes great in breakfast burritos.
- As above but spice with Mexican chilli flavours and use in fajitas.
- Create an omelette blending silken tofu with chickpea flour (gram flour) – the thicker your mixture the more you can create a thick frittata style dish using sliced potatoes and any other vegetables you want to add.
- ToFish – Drain tofu, press if desired. Coat with nori (seaweed) sheets and batter mixture.
Try using Follow Your Heart Vegan Egg mix or chia seed egg or flax egg before coating with batter or breadcrumbs (more info on vegan egg ).
- Tofu katsu curry – As above coat your tofu with vegan egg mix and panko breadcrumbs then fry or bake and serve with katsu curry.
- Tofu ‘egg’ salad – crumble and blend tofu of choice (this works with frim or silken – or try with both types together) with vegan mayonnaise and/or salad cream / vegan plain yogurt to create an ‘egg mayo’ type filling. You can add a little turmeric for colour and black salt for added eggy flavour.
- Tofu ‘ricotta’ – replace ricotta cheese in recipes with silken tofu; blend with vegan cream cheese and nutritional yeast for extra flavour.
- Puddings – Tofu can be used in a wide array of sweet dishes including a simple chocolate pudding – simply blend silken tofu with chocolate powder and maple syrup or agave with a little vanilla extract for a deliciously sweet dessert that’s still good for you!
- Or add tofu to shakes and smoothies for extra protein and added texture!
Tofu is a fantastic ingredient for cooking once you get used to it. Experiment and find out how you like it best. It’s so versatile, inexpensive and good for you! A great source of vegan protein!
Easy choc pudding:
- 1x 300g box soft silken tofu (e.g. Clearspring)
- 4 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
- 4 tbsp agave nectar
- 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup fresh raspberries
- 2 tablespoons chopped pistachios
- Blend tofu, cocoa, agave and vanilla in food processor. Pour into serving dishes; top with berries and nuts.
Yummy tahini baked tofu
- 1 block firm tofu, drained and pressed, cut into pieces or sliced
- 1 – 2 tbsp soy sauce or Bragg liquid aminos
- 1 tsp minced garlic
- 1/4 cup tahini
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- 1 tbsp toasted sesame oil
- Fresh ground pepper to taste
- Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees F / 200 c
- Oil a flat baking pan or dish. Place in the pan so that the slices overlap
- Mix the sauce ingredients in a bowl until it is a cream like consistency. Add a little water to thin if needed.
- Pour mixture over tofu and bake until lightly golden – about 20 minutes
I absolutely adore tofu, I enjoy experimenting with it as it’s such a versatile ingredient in terms of texture and tastes you can create with it. Have fun and enjoy tasting your tofu creations!