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The mecca of vegan and vegetarian eating. The holy grail of clean protein. The silken creamy texture that dreams are made of.
Even if you’re not necessarily vegan, you’ve probably had tofu in some form of another. Whether it’s in your miso soup or blended up in a delicious smoothie--there’s no denying that it has made its name in American households.
And sure, you like it. In fact, you find it delicious.
… But how on Earth do you cook it?
The good news is: it’s already cooked! You can totally pop that brick of heaven out of its packaging and immediately into your mouth.
But... Maybe you already know that’s not ultimately the best way to eat tofu. Our point is: there’s no need to worry about over-cooking or under-cooking it. All you have to think about is how you’re going to prepare it.
And in the same way that tofu looked intimidating to eat and tasted delicious once you tried it, tofu is so easy to make. Not only that: you’ll find it’s extremely versatile!
For this post, we’ll dive into different ways you can cook medium firm to firm tofu. Whether you want to toss it into a curry or top it on a salad--we’ve got a couple of methods to cooking your favorite plant based protein.
First Things First: Drain It!
The first rule of tofu is: you gotta drain it.
Since tofu is made up of 90% water, it’s important to drain the excess moisture so it can absorb marinades and spices. It might seem like a major deterrent when you’re looking for a quick 30 minute weeknight meal, but we promise it’s not too difficult! All it takes is a little time.
To squeeze out the water, put towels or some form of absorbing material both under and over the tofu block. On top of the paper towel, put a cutting board and some form of a weight on top. Or grab yourself a super easy tofu press. The weight shouldn’t be too heavy—something like an iron frying pan or even a large can of food will do. The cutting board serves to evenly distribute the weight pressing the water out.
Allow the tofu to drain for at least 30 minutes this way—but if you need to start the process in the morning before work, just throw it in the fridge and let it do its thing!
Let’s start with an awesome tofu breakfast option… If you’re a vegan or just like to hold off eating eggs, you gotta try making good scrambled tofu.
It’s got a great consistency similar to eggs, and can be super flavorful depending on what you season and scramble them with. You can season it with one spice like turmeric like this recipe or pack it with a ton like this southwestern styled one--this is the time to be creative!
Chop the tofu with a knife and use a fork to get it to a “scrambled” consistency. Heat your favorite cooking oil over medium heat and add to a cast iron pan for 5-10 minutes or until hot. If you’re scrambling with veggies, add these to your tofu scramble as well.
Eat with toast or a light salad and enjoy!
A yummy, healthy alternative without using too much oil, baked tofu may just be your go-to protein for salads, curries and fried rice.
Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Cut your tofu into whatever sized pieces you like. Season however your heart desires—you can season it as simply as salt, pepper and garlic powder, but this also the method to dry a wet marinade! A teriyaki or soy sauce would work wonderfully.
Let the tofu soak in the marinade for at least 30 minutes, but longer if you want that extra flavor.
Right before it goes into the oven, sprinkle a little bit of cornstarch over the tofu so the edges get nice and crispy! Bake for 15 minutes, then flip the tofu for even texture. Bake for 15-20 more minutes and enjoy!
You heard that right. We’re going for the gold by frying it.
Because is there anything as satisfying, anything more delicious than tofu with a perfectly golden, crispy outside and a luscious, soft inside?
Even if there is… We’ll stick with our fried tofu.
For a stellar fried tofu that goes great in anything from stir fries to ramen, you’ll definitely want to add that cornstarch for the crispy exterior. Toss the tofu to make sure that it’s evenly distributed.
In a large cast iron pan, add 4-5 tablespoons of high heat oil to medium high heat. Once sufficiently hot (the oil should shimmer), add the tofu and brown on all sides. This should take about five minutes.
If you’re deep frying the tofu (fully submerging the tofu in hot oil), it should take even less time. Just make sure that the exterior is a deep golden brown at around 3 minutes cooking time—anything more and you might risk the skin getting hard and bitter. Also make sure to flip the tofu at least once with a wooden spoon to make sure both sides are cooked evenly.
Wanting to break out your fancy air fryer for that delectable crisp? Great idea. Preheat your fryer to 400 degrees. Arrange the tofu in a single layer, making sure that the pieces don’t touch. Cook for 10-15 minutes--remember to occasionally shake the pan so it all gets mixed up in that frying goodness!
Tofu: We Promise It’s Not That Hard
The most exciting thing about cooking tofu is endless creativity that goes into preparing it. Do you want to go all in and fry it, or were you thinking of baking it? Do you dream of making a delicate, homemade miso soup--or going all in on a tofu breakfast burrito?
And what are you going to season it with?
Interesting ways to cook tofu will only increase as we all (hopefully) move toward a plant based diet. It’s shown itself to be such a forgiving ingredient… And a delicious one at that.
The only challenge to you: how are you going to cook it first?
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What is your favorite recipe for tofu? Comment below!