Dinners · Food Tips · Vegan · Vegetarian

Tofu Tips

Tofu is an odd beast. It’s one of the first things that people ask me about being vegan or mention as a reason why they couldn’t be a vegetarian/vegan. And I totally get it. Tofu’s weird. It’s not meat, it never will be meat, and we need to accept that.

But, there are some things that you can do to start enjoying tofu, because it is pretty awesome once you hop on the bandwagon.

  1. Try different kinds of tofu
    1. There are multiple varieties of tofu from different brands (although Nasoya is my favorite) in a range of textures. The texture spans from silken tofu, which is so soft that it can be blended into cakes and puddings, to sprouted super firm tofu that is really starchy and blocky. I like using different textures of tofu for different recipes – extra firm (non-sprouted) for dishes like stir-fries or pan-frying where I want to form a nice crust on the tofu, and lite firm for soups and curries where the tofu will soak up all of the flavor.
  2. Press your tofu
    1. Another massively helpful tip when cooking tofu is to press it. Tofu is packaged and stored in water so that it doesn’t lose moisture, but then it has so much moisture when you’re ready to cook it that it feels really wet on the palette, and that’s part of the texture that people don’t like. I always press my tofu before using it to squish out any excess moisture and get firmer pieces in my dishes (not necessary for soups and curries).
    2. To press my tofu, I cut open the packaging and drain most of the liquid out. Then, I take the tofu out of the package and press it between my hands to press out as much moisture as I can for another minute or two, flipping the block around and squeezing all sides. If I have some time, I wrap the tofu in a kitchen cloth and set it between two plates for 10-20 minutes to squish out and soak up all of the excess moisture.Pressing Tofu Process Love is Kneaded
  3. Try different methods of cooking it
    1. Honestly, try frying it first. Healthy? No. Delicious? Yes! If deep-frying tofu makes it a little less scary and a lot more enticing to people, then go for it. Work your way up from fried tofu to steamed. I love fried tofu because it soaks up all that delicious salt and fat and it ends up tasting more like chicken tenders than anything else!
    2. You can bake tofu, grill it, pan-fry it, crumble it into a hash, eat it as a sandwich or a burger – prepare it the same way you would any meat (except for slow-cooking because all of that moisture would turn it to mush). One of my favorite meals to make right now is tacos with crumbled tofu and black beans, pan-fried with Mexican spices.
  4. Spice the shit out of it
    1. Tofu doesn’t have much of its own flavor, so you’ll want to pack a ton of flavor into it. I’ve seen recipes of spice-rubbing tofu like one would a slab of ribs, it goes well with any spicy, salty sauce, and as I mentioned above, tofu is awesome in soups (especially miso!) and curries because it soaks up a ton of the flavor.
  5. Don’t be afraid of it!
    1. Tofu is really just a soy cheese product. It’s made from bean curd, which is coagulated soymilk that has been pressed into blocks. “Normal” cheese is made from the curds of cow’s/sheep’s/goat’s milk that has been pressed, so why should soymilk curd scare people? If people can enjoy eating stinking, moldy bleu cheese, they can learn to love tofu as well.

Some people may just not like tofu, no matter what. And that’s ok! When people think of a plant-based protein, they assume tofu. But, you can eat an entirely plant-based vegan/vegetarian diet without it. Beans, quinoa, seeds, oats and naturally based protein powders (pea, hemp, etc.) are all parts of a delicious meat-free diet that has plenty of variety.

But, definitely give tofu the benefit the doubt and try it a few times. If you find one way of preparation that you like, stick with it for a while to get used to it and then branch out from there at your own speed. Tofu has a lot to offer, and it just wants a chance to prove itself.


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