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4 Ways to Spice Up Your Tofu

Tofu is a staple of vegetarian and vegan diets, but learning how to cook tofu well will serve all types of foodies, whether vegan or carnivore

Person holding a blue bowl with tofu

Tofu is one of those ingredients that are just great in a huge variety of dishes, and it’s super-easy to cook too. It’s also a fantastic protein source, is packed with amino acids, making it a healthful addition to any diet.

Tofu can be served alone, as the supporting actor in an exotic main dish, in salads, soups, stir-fries, smoothies, or even desserts. The trick to a good tofu dish is in the preparation and the cooking.

Read on to discover four ways to spice up your tofu

Tofu: The Basics

However, first things first, for anyone out there wondering just what tofu is, here’s a quick primer.

Tofu is a unique foodstuff that’s made from soybeans. It’s produced in a similar way to cheese, only with soybean milk rather than dairy.

Soaked and crushed soybeans are mixed with water to form a milk before being added to a coagulant like calcium sulfate or nigari.

During this process, the cheese-like curds start to form, which are then pressed into blocks. The longer the curds are pressed, the firmer the tofu will be.

Nowadays, you’ll see quite a few different types of tofu on grocery store shelves. Block tofu ranges in firmness from soft to extra-firm, as does the smoother and creamier silken tofu.

In terms of cooking with tofu, block tofu is the easiest to add to heated mains, while silken tofu lends itself more to cold dishes, desserts, or blender recipes.

Many recipes that involve cooking block tofu with heat will call for either extra-firm tofu or firm tofu that’s been pressed.

Pressing tofu removes any excess moisture from the product, ensuring that it won’t fall apart during the cooking process and absorbs a lot more flavour.

Pressing tofu is easy and straightforward with a kitchen tool like the Tofubud tofu press, but it’s also possible to press tofu using tea or paper towels and a substantial weight, such as a cast-iron pan.

Pressing it the old fashioned way will take a lot longer, though, adding as much as 45 minutes to the preparation time.  

4 Ways to Spice up Your Tofu 

1. Sauté for an Instant Stir-Fry  

It couldn’t be easier to turn block tofu into a tasty and nutritious main meal than by simply sautéing or stir-frying it.

Chop up a block of tofu into even sized cubes and place into a suitable bowl. Then pour in your favourite sauce or seasoning; honey and ginger always work well in this instance. Let it marinate for 30 minutes to 2 hours, then simply heat in coconut oil over medium heat for 8 to 10 minutes.  

2. Turn Tofu into Steaks 

This is another quick and easy recipe that will transform your humble block of tofu into a moreish steak:

Mix together one tablespoon of sesame oil, 1/3 cup of tamari, ¼ cup of brown rice vinegar, 2 tablespoons of fresh chopped ginger, and one minced garlic clove in a bowl.

Cut the tofu block in half along the width, then again straight down the centre to form 4 ‘steaks.’ 

Pour half of the marinade into a baking dish, add the tofu layer, and then pour in the remaining. Cover and marinate for 1 hour.  

Preheat an oven to 375 degrees.  

Pour half of the marinade out of the dish, then bake the steaks for 30 minutes (flipping halfway). Serve hot with green onions and sweet potato chips.

3. Whip up some Kimchi 

Silken tofu makes for the perfect kimchi, and there are a couple of ways in which you can prepare it. Along with the usual chilli paste, cabbage, ginger, and garlic, you really don’t need much else to create this staple of Asian cuisine.

You can whip up a kimchi-style broth by combining all the ingredients in a blender and heating up over a stove or in the microwave.

Or, you can marinade silken tofu in the kimchi liquid and serve it raw for something more contemporary.

4. Blend into Delicious Dressings 

Silken tofu is one of those ingredients that’s made for blended recipes, making it the perfect addition to dressings.  

Simply adding some toasted sesame oil into a blender with a pack of silken tofu creates a miso-Esque dressing that will add some Japanese flair to salads or soups.

Or, for something a bit more exotic, mixing silken tofu, honey, a drizzle of rice vinegar, and sorrel creates a delicate, citrusy dressing that would be just as delicious on fresh bread as it would a crisp summer salad.

In Summary 

These four suggestions are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to cooking with tofu. Its purity means it soaks up flavours like a sponge, and it’s a healthy alternative to meat and fish.

As the quick tofu steak recipe above shows, tofu isn’t limited to Asian cuisine either. In fact, you could turn breaded block tofu into meat-free chicken nuggets, while silken tofu can easily replace full-fat cream in tomato and basil soup.

The possibilities are endless with an ingredient like tofu. Despite its bland appearance, it’s one of those ingredients that you can eat time and time again without getting bored.

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