Cooking technique: tofu

This article was originally published in June 2013

Tofu’s neutral flavor makes it a wonderfully versatile ingredient. Enjoy it marinated, baked, grilled, stir-fried, sautéed or used in sandwich fillings, dips, soups and desserts. As anyone who likes tofu will tell you, it’s all about the preparation.

Choose the right tofu for your dish

Extra- and super-firm

Sturdy and best for panfrying, grilling or crumbling to create a faux ground-beef texture.

Firm

Smoother than extra-firm tofu and a terrific all-purpose tofu for just about any cooking method.

Soft tofu

Delicate and just right in simple dishes, such as a breakfast scrambles, smoothies and baked goods.

Silken tofu

Light, smooth and lovely in puddings, desserts, smoothies and in soups to add creaminess. A perfect nondairy substitute for cream, mayonnaise, sour cream or yogurt in dips and sauces. Try it in PCC Vegan Chocolate Mousse.

Transform into deliciousness

Most often, you’ll want to drain tofu before using. If you’re using silken tofu, scoop what you need from the container. For all other varieties, press out excess water between paper towels. The drier the tofu, the more flavor it can absorb. Once open, use your tofu within 2 to 3 days and keep it covered in fresh water.

  • You can infuse a lot of flavor into tofu simply by marinating it.
  • Marinades work best if you cut your tofu into bite-size pieces. Marinate for at least 15 minutes, though the longer you can let the tofu marinate, the more flavorful it will be.
  • After marinating, drain your tofu well. You can then fry it; or, spread it out on an oiled baking sheet and bake in a hot oven until golden and crispy.
  • To create a meatier-textured tofu that can hold up to the grill, try freezing your tofu before marinating. Remove excess marinade to avoid smoking, and grill over high heat.

Tips for working with tofu

  • Get crispy with cornstarch. After marinating, coat tofu lightly with cornstarch. This will give your tofu a fantastic crispy coating when panfrying.
  • Tofu is great on the grill. After marinating, cook on a hot, oiled surface until you get nice grill marks (about 7 minutes per side).
  • Skip the oil in your marinades. Oil prevents flavors from absorbing. Instead, use a bit more vinegar, soy sauce, citrus juice or stock.
  • Slice it, freeze it, thaw it. Use your freezer to expel liquid for a firmer, spongier tofu. This will maximize its ability to absorb marinades.

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