20 August 2012

5 plus ways to cook tofu

I know I’m not alone in having heard: “I don’t like tofu because it’s so bland” countless times from meat-eating friends. And it’s true, in a way. But the awesome thing about tofu is that you really can season it to taste like anything you want.

There are a myriad of ways to cook tofu: sautéed, baked, grilled, glazed, scrambled, deep-fried, simmered etc. You can BBQ it. You can blend it in a smoothie. You can put it in soups, dumplings, quiches, and casseroles. You can use tofu in desserts.

My easiest go-to tofu meal is sautéed extra firm tofu with various vegetables in either a tomato or tamari based sauce. I always start with cooking onion and garlic in extra virgin olive oil, then fry the tofu while adding veggies.

My mom’s never fail stir-fry sauce:

1/4 c water
1/2 tbsp sesame oil
1 tbsp vegetarian oyster sauce*
1 tbsp tamari
1 tbsp brown sugar
1 tsp fresh grated ginger**
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/8 tsp crushed red pepper flakes

*check your local Asian markets.
**tip: keep fresh ginger root in your freezer to prolong shelf life. Grate with a microplane zester into sauces, dressings etc.

Some easy and delicious recipe ideas:

1. Baked

2. Grilled

3. Glazed

(this calls for tempeh but I’ve made with tofu as well)

(use tamari instead of fish sauce)

4. Scrambled

5. Pie

Really? Yes. Tofu chocolate pie. http://vegweb.com/recipes/silken-chocolate-tofu-pie

There’s more!


If you’re making something creamy, like a smoothie, pie or dip, use silken tofu. This is soft and easily blended. Otherwise choose extra firm tofu, especially for sautéing or grilling large pieces. That way it won’t crumble or fall apart.

Some people suggest rinsing and pressing firm tofu when it comes in a package. I personally just run the tofu block under water for a second and quickly pat dry with a paper towel, but it’s up to you how much moisture you want to squeeze out before cooking.

Don’t forget that there are other ways for vegetarians and vegans to get protein than just tofu. Yes, tofu is healthy, versatile and handy to have in the fridge for all sorts of dishes. But I personally prefer to eat soy products in moderation, so I normally cook with tofu 2-3 out of 7 nights of the week. The rest of the time I’m getting my protein from beans, nuts and whole grains.

So have fun experimenting with different cooking styles and sauces. You don’t have to spend a lot of time or money preparing tofu to make it taste good. Just add the right seasoning and tofu goes from "bland" to "wow!" in no time.

Rachel Fryer | Email
New Orleans, LA This vegetarian Bikram yoga teacher and English grad student loves writing about meat-free food, fitness and healthy lifestyle tips. Rachel also enjoys traveling, reading historical fiction, eating spicy food and drinking coconut water after an especially sweaty yoga class. She can't wait to adopt a shelter dog (or three) in the near future.

Photo credit: commons.wikimedia.org DryPot