How to Prepare Tofu So It’s Not Gross

It’s understandable how a block of squishy, raw tofu can seem pretty unappealing. Thankfully, some basics on tofu preparation can help you make those questionable white squares into delicious meals.

Forms and Textures of Tofu

To start with, many different varieties of tofu are available in most supermarkets and natural foods stores. Plain, raw tofu comes in a range of firmness levels. Each one works well in different types of recipes.

Silken or Soft Tofu – Has a soft, creamy texture. Best used in recipes like puddings, sauces or desserts.

Medium Tofu – Has a moderately soft texture. Also has a good texture after being frozen, and it’s similar to a white cheese when broken up into recipes like burritos or casseroles.

Firm Tofu – Solid enough that it does not have any “wobble” like soft or medium tofu. It holds together well in cubes for frying or makes a nice crumble for scrambled tofu dishes.

Extra Firm Tofu – The most solid texture. Good for marinating and using as large squares for roasting or frying.

You can also buy types of prepared tofu that are ready to eat. For instance, packaged tofu that’s been deep-fried can be put directly into a dish without any further preparation. Dessert types of tofu are also available, which can be flavored with fruit, caramel, etc. These can be eaten as they are.

Ways to Prepare Tofu

Like many ingredients, how you prepare tofu before you make your dish has a lot to do with the final taste, texture and appearance. These are some ways to reduce or eliminate the unpleasant squishy texture that is often associated with tofu.

Pressing – Helps to get extra water out of a block of tofu, which allows for it to take up more flavor in your final dish. Put your tofu block on one plate, cover it with a second plate, then put something heavy like a glass of water on top to weigh the plate down. Let it sit for about 5 to 10 minutes and drain off any excess water that comes out of the tofu. Works well for medium and firm textures of tofu.

Freezing – Creates a sponge-like texture in the tofu that will take on flavorings, marinades and sauces very well. This works best for medium or firm tofu. Keep fresh tofu in its package and put it straight into the freezer until it freezes solid, at least overnight. It can remain stored in the freezer for months if needed. Thaw in a warm water bath, remove it from the package and squeeze out any excess water by hand or pressing. You’ll notice you can get a lot more water out than simply pressing a fresh tofu.

How to Prepare Tofu So It's Not Gross

Thawed Tofu after Freezing

Boiling – Boiled tofu has a texture similar to a boiled egg or a soft cheese. The process is similar to cooking dried pasta. Start by boiling some water. Then cut a medium, firm or extra firm tofu into cubes, drop them into the boiling water and cook for about 5 minutes. Boiled tofu goes well in salads and stir fries. It’s also a healthier option than pan or deep frying because it doesn’t require extra oil.

Pan Frying – Browns or sears tofu to create a more meat-like experience. Pre-heat a bit of oil in your frying pan. Cut firm or extra firm tofu into cubes, strips or larger pieces and fry for a few minutes on each side. You can fry marinated tofu, season it and use it as a burger, or add plain fried tofu to a dish.

Deep Frying – Gives tofu a nice, crispy exterior. A medium or firm tofu is typically cut into large cubes and then you can follow the regular cooking process for your particular deep fryer. You can also deep fry in a pan or wok filled with about 2 inches of oil. A shorter fry time will produce a thin, crispy coating with a soft interior. Whereas, a longer fry time will cook the majority of the way through the cubes and make them drier overall.

Roasting – An excellent way to prepare tofu with a sauce or marinade. You can use tofu that’s been frozen and thawed, which will absorb any sauce or marinade well. Firm or extra firm tofu are also good for roasting in large pieces. An example recipe for a roasted tofu is given below.

Tofu Recipes

How to Prepare Tofu So It's Not Gross

Roasted Indonesian Satay Tofu

Roasted Indonesian Satay Tofu

Ingredients:

2 cloves garlic, mashed
½ teaspoon vinegar
¼ cup peanut butter
2 tablespoons oil
1 teaspoon fresh ginger root, grated
¼ teaspoon dry marjoram
2 teaspoons honey
¼ cup soy sauce or gluten-free tamari
¼ cup boiling water
1/8 teaspoon cayenne (optional)

1 pound of medium or firm tofu that’s been frozen and thawed

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit (190 degrees Celsius).

Combine all the ingredients, except the tofu, to make the sauce. Press or squeeze as much water as possible out of the tofu. Cut the tofu into half-inch thick slices.

Cover the bottom of a 9” x 13” baking dish with a thin layer of the sauce. Place the tofu slices in the dish, one layer thick. Pour the rest of the sauce over the tofu and bake for 20 to 25 minutes. Excellent served with rice and vegetables. Makes 4 servings.

How to Prepare Tofu So It's Not Gross

Tofu, Spinach and Rice Casserole

Tofu, Spinach and Rice Casserole

Ingredients:

1 small onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tablespoon oil for cooking
1 14.5-ounce can of tomatoes or applesauce
1 teaspoon dried oregano or basil
8 ounces fresh medium or firm tofu, mashed with a fork or by hand
2 cups cooked brown rice
1 10-ounce package of frozen, chopped spinach, thawed and drained
Salt and pepper to taste
3 tablespoons sesame seeds

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit (180 degrees Celsius).

Cook the onion and garlic in hot oil in a large pot until tender. Add the entire can of tomatoes or applesauce and the oregano or basil. Bring to a boil and simmer for about 3 minutes.

Stir in mashed tofu, cooked rice, spinach, salt and pepper.

Oil a 2-quart baking dish and spoon mixture into the dish. Top with sesame seeds. Bake, uncovered for 30 to 40 minutes or until heated through. Makes 4 servings.

 

You can also give some of these recipes a try:

Related
15 Delicious Ways to Cook Tofu
Here’s Why You Should Add Tempeh to Your Diet (Plus 15 Recipes to Try)
The Ultimate Tofu Cheat Sheet

 

92 comments

Robert N.
Rob Chloe Sam Nabout a year ago

I've never tried tofu, But might give it a go one day.

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Wendi M.
Wendi Mabout a year ago

TYFS

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Christina C.
Christina Cabout a year ago

Tofu isn't gross! Thank you for the recipes.

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Andrea B.
.about a year ago

I've tried tofu a few times, It's always been hit and miss with the recipes that i have tried, Thank you for sharing this article,

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Adele E Zimmermann
Adele E Zimmermannabout a year ago

I buy extra firm tofu and press it for a couple of days - weighted by a brick. Then I slice it in half horizontally and grill it in a "contact grill", such as a George Foreman, which further presses it. The result is a dense, chewy product, ready to be added to stir fries (without crumbling) or cut into squares and coated with hot sauce, making Buffalo Tofu - a favorite at potlucks. Be sure to check the ingredients in the sauce to make sure it is vegan. It can also be cut into "fingers" about 1/2 inch by 1/2 inch by 2 inches, and used with various dips. Once you press and grill it, the possibilities are endless!

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Jim Ven
Jim Venabout a year ago

thanks for the article.

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Marilyn S.
Marilyn Sabout a year ago

Dnt like it,TFS

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Teresa Antela
Teresa Aabout a year ago

Tyfs

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Laurie Mazzeo
Laurie Mazzeoabout a year ago

had no idea of all these different types and uses

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Laurie Mazzeo
Laurie Mazzeoabout a year ago

thanks for sharing

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