20 December 2010

How to cook with tofu: Basic tips to create the perfect dish

I like to cook and I love to eat but I’m not one of those “brilliant” cooks. I am that cook who enjoys lots of flavor and wants her food to be quick and easy to make. Which is why I love tofu.

Here’s my laywoman’s take on tofu.

Firm Tofu
First, you want to press the water out of the tofu. Most people who have cooked with tofu have done something like this:

But these days you see a lot of people using the TofuXpress.

Either way works, just press that water out of the tofu before using.

The tofu is pressed. Now what? Make a marinade! You can scour vegan cookbooks and websites/blogs for great marinade recipes but why not make something that tastes good to YOU? All you need to start is
  • a fat (olive or sesame oils)
  • an acid (vinegar or citrus juice)
  • spices
  • salt (I prefer Bragg’s Liquid Aminos, but sea salt, soy and tamari sauces are good, too)
  • garlic (not a must but I almost always use it)
Then you take it from there. I have tried things like miso with date syrup and pumpkin. You can marinade tofu 20 minutes to 24 hours though I tend to marinate it for 2 - 8 hours. How do you want it? Fried? Baked? Grilled? Yes, all three are perfect!
  • Bake on 350 for 20 minutes turning at 10 minutes.
  • Pan fry in olive or sesame oil for 8 - 10 minutes turning at mid-point.
  • Grill for 10 - 12 minutes, turning at mid-point on a gas or electric grill.
You can enjoy “scrambled tofu” for breakfast. For lunch, crumble tofu for an “eggless” salad or dice it in a soup.

Soft and Silken Tofu
Soft tofu is great to make sour cream, cream cheese, salad dressings and desserts.

How do you cook with tofu?

Editor's note: Press your tofu, cube it, then freeze between sheets of wax paper. This method creates a spongy, more absorbent texture—perfect for marinating. Defrost prior to marinating.

JL | @JLgoesvegan
Post-40 JL became a marathoner and triathlete, changed careers and transitioned from vegetarian to vegan. She now blogs about vegan cooking (and wine!) and fitness. JL is a community college administrator and teaches nonprofit management at a local university. Follow JL on her blog and Facebook.

Photo credit: cc: flickr.com/photos/sweetbeetandgreenbean, respective sources