Best Tofu You Ever Had *

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Let's face it: tofu doesn't taste very good . . . unless it's prepared correctly!   Then it can be great! We've tried broiling, frying, grilling, in all kinds of marinades, to no avail.  It still tasted like tofu.  Until we learned a way to improve the texture: fry before marinating (in that order).   

Shown above with brown rice, minimally-sauted cabbage, topped with Asian Ginger Sauce,  (e.g. an "Asian bowl").

This dish is quick if you press the tofu in advance (which you should always do, see end).    

INGREDIENTS:   
(1) A block of extra-firm tofu  
(2) marinade  (below)
(3) Sauce such as Lemon- Tahini,  Thai Peanut Sauce, or  Asian Ginger Sauce (pictured above). 
(4) Something to serve with, like brown rice, barely sautéed shredded cabbage, or cooked vegetables with the same sauce. 

Of course, cooked tofu is great in stir-fries.  If your stir-fry has liquid ingredients, you might skip the marinade.

 

PRESS:  This is a necessary step. See the bottom of the page for tofu-pressing options.  By far the easiest way to press tofu is in a 'Tofu XPress.'  Place the tofu in the device, in the fridge, as soon as you bring it home from the store, so you can skip the pressing step. .


SLICE:   After pressing, slice into 3 or 4 slices (as shown on the right), or cut into small cubes.   


DRY-FRY:
  (pictured below)  

Most recipes call for a marinade right after pressing, but you actually want to fry the tofu FIRST, to improve the texture.

Cut slices into triangles and dry-fry (without oil) on medium-high heat in a non-stick pan, until golden brown.   THEN marinate. 

(To verify that your pressing step was successful, press down with a spatula on the tofu in the pan.  If you see and hear water droplets escaping, it wasn't adequately pressed, though it's probably fine).

Some authors tell you to freeze, then thaw the tofu first to improve the texture.  This made no difference in my experiments. 


MARINATE
:

Actually, the word "marinate" is not accurate.  Just toss with some tasty liquid ingredients.  These are quickly absorbed, so it is not necessary to spend more than a few minutes.  As an example, mirin is a slightly sweet asian rice wine.  You could sprinkle this on the cooked hot tofu, and that may be enough.      

Some people marinate in a sandwich-sized zip-lock bag, but I think it's fine just to toss the tofu with whatever liquid "marinade" you are using.    Marinades, like the ones below, can be thickened to become a sauce.  You don't need to submerge the tofu in the liquid; tossing tofu with the liquid works well, and is quicker.   Cutting the tofu into cubes (before frying) helps it to absorb more. 

ASIAN MARINADE:
4 tablespoons rice vinegar
2 tablespoon low-sodium soy sauce
2 teaspoons of Hoi Sin sauce for sweetness (or agave nectar, or BBQ sauce)
1 TBSP rice wine or Mirin (Mirin is sold in some health food stores including Mom's Organic Market)

Optional:  One teaspoon each of chopped or pressed garlic, chopped fresh ginger. 
Optional:  some water to help it cover more of the tofu.

(Totally optional and probably not worth the trouble, but Chili Bean Paste or Bean Sauce can be added to a marinated.  The Lee Kum Kee brand is available online;  Avoid brands with corn syrup or sugar as the first ingredient).  


FRY AGAIN: 

This allows the tofu to absorb the marinade even more.  Use bite-sized pieces, or whatever size pieces you'll  be serving.   Add the tofu to a non-stick pan without oil (again) with as much marinade as desired.  The marinade will thicken and coat the tofu.   The sweet and salty ingredients make the flavor intense as the health quality worsens, so consider limiting the amount of marinade you use in this step, or just use partial marinade ingredients here.  

Important:  Stop cooking when the marinade is almost absorbed, before it starts to burn.   

An optional extra step is to mix a teaspoon of cornstarch into the hot liquid to make it shiny.  

Here's what it looks like now: 
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SERVE:Tofu like this goes great tossed with veggies, a stir fry, with rice, or served on the side with any of these things, or have it as a sandwich in bread, or in a wrap of lettuce, collard greens, etc.  



OPTIONS FOR PRESSING TOFU:

Since you probably don't yet own the Tofu X-Press or the EZ Tofu Press you'll probably use the primitive manual method first. As soon as you discover that tofu can be great, buy one or both of these devices.  Scroll down for more on these.   

A dishtowel is optional;  it helps pull the water out, and also keep the water off of your counter-top.  Placing everything inside a pan, such as a baking pan, will also catch the water.

Place a heavy object on the towel for 30-60 minutes. 

We like to press before slicing, which probably allows you to get thinner slices.   
 



DEVICES FOR PRESSING TOFU: 

The Tofu X-Press is our favorite.  As soon as you get the tofu home from the store, place it in the Tofu X-Press  and keep it there, refrigerated, until you're ready to use it,  several hours or days later.  This won't work if you buy the tofu immediately before cooking time, because it takes a minimum of a few hours to press.  But if you've planned ahead, your tofu will be extremely well pressed with no waiting.  And, the device catches all the liquid.    

The EZ Tofu Press
 works fast, if you need to press tofu right now.  You periodically tighten the screws several times.

            The Tofu X-Press ($40 plus postage)                                    The EZ Tofu Press ($24)
              requires several hours or overnight                                    works in 15 - 20 minutes.




 

 

 

 

 

 

 


HEALTH QUALITIES OF TOFU: 

Tofu is partially processed, has a lot of fat, and is not a health food.  But it's a WHOLE LOT better than chicken or other meat, and can help make your food more delicious.  TVP (Textured Vegetable Protein) is made from soy but is in a whole different category.  TVP is highly processed and should probably be avoided by people interested in healthy food.   Although soy products have "complete protein," we now know that this is a non-issue.  (It's almost impossible to get inadequate protein on a vegan diet, providing you're eating at least some of each of the new four food groups during the week: fruits, vegetables, grains and legumes.   (It's not necessary to eat them all in the same day).  Soy may boost estrogen levels, but studies have shown that breast cancer risk is not adversely affected by soy products.
 

Tofu pictured with lemon tahini dressing:  

  

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commented 2017-05-03 08:05:57 -0400 · Flag
Love these tips!
responded 2012-11-06 23:24:43 -0500
published this page in Less Quick Recipes 2012-11-06 00:43:07 -0500