If you’re brand new to plant-based eating, or you’ve never eaten tofu before, or you have eaten tofu before but had a terrible experience, chances are, cooking with tofu might intimidate you a bit.
I am here to take that fear away and show you how to prepare tofu and cook it up so that it tastes good!
The truth is, if you’re a plant-based eater or vegan and you are not allergic to soy, tofu is likely going to make a regular appearance on your plate. This is a great thing because not only is it delicious, eating soy has been associated with health benefits like lower cholesterol and lower risk of heart disease, along with a decreased risk of developing breast and prostate cancers.
If you’re wanting to learn more about the benefits of soy and listen to me dispel some of the top myths about soy, you can enroll in my FREE Eat to Nourish Masterclass here or you can read my blog post all about soy here.
What is tofu?
Tofu, also known as bean curd, is made by coagulating soy milk to create curds. These curds are then pressed into different textures. The softer the tofu, the more water that it contains. Tofu can range from Silken (very, very soft) to Extra-Firm.
Extra-Firm tofu is used most often to bake, pan-fry or grill so we will be reviewing how to prepare extra-firm tofu in today’s blog post.
Not only is tofu delicious and versatile it is nutrient packed and one of the best sources of protein on a plant-based diet.
Per 1 cup of extra-firm tofu you get 22 grams of protein, 535 mg calcium (if calcium set, check the label), 4.3 mg iron, 2.2 mg zinc and 75 mg of choline. All of this with no cholesterol and next to no saturated fat.
Prepping extra-firm tofu
There are a few different ways that you can prepare your tofu for cooking.
- Take out of packaging, drain, rinse, cook.
- Take out of the packaging, drain, rinse, press, cook.
- Take out of the packaging, drain, rinse, cut, freeze, thaw, drain, cook.
I definitely carry out method 1. when I am running low on time to throw together a meal BUT, I do notice such a difference in the texture and how the tofu cooks when I take the time to press it out or freeze it.
Why press or freeze your tofu?
Pressing out or freezing your tofu helps to remove as much liquid as possible from your tofu. Pressing and freezing your tofu improves the texture of your tofu making it chewier, can help it hold together better while cooking, prevents it from watering down your overall dish, allows it to soak up more marinade or the flavours that you’re cooking it up with and helps it to brown up and crisp up more easily!
How to press tofu
Pressing out your tofu is really easy! You can purchase a tofu press OR just use some heavier household items, aka the stack method. My favourite pressing helpers are my cook books or my cast iron skillet.
For the stack method, drain and rinse off your tofu. Wrap your tofu in an absorbent towel and stack your heavy items on top.
WARNING, stack with caution. To prevent your pile of books or pan from toppling over, I place my wrapped tofu on my kitchen counter by my back splash and stack my books on top, making sure that they are pressed up against my backsplash to make the pile sturdy.
How long should you press your tofu?
I say the longer the better! I would press it for a minimum of 15-20 minutes. Remember the goal is to get as much liquid out as possible.
I usually press my tofu for ~1 hour, but you can do longer. If I am pressing for longer than an hour, sometimes I will re-wrap my tofu in a fresh and dry absorbent towel half way through.
I do not recommend pressing Silken, soft or medium-soft tofu, just firm or extra-firm.
Freezing your tofu will give it a bit of a different texture than pressed tofu. Unlike pressed tofu that is more dense, frozen tofu will end up more spongy and chewy.
Don’t be alarmed when you see the colour of frozen! Freezing the tofu changes its colour to yellow (normal).
How to freeze your tofu
Take your tofu out of the package, drain and rinse it. Cut up your tofu in whichever way you like, cubed, fingers, slabs or triangles, in preparation to freeze it. Once cubed place in freezer friendly container or bag and freeze!
Once frozen through, take out of the freezer and thaw in your fridge. Once completely thawed drain, pat dry and cook up!
I will freeze my tofu overnight and take out the following morning to thaw out to prepare for dinner that night.
Once your tofu has been either pressed out or frozen and thawed it is ready to go! You can marinate it or bake, grill, fry or scramble as is!
I will be doing future posts on my favourite ways to cook up my tofu!
How do you prep and prepare your tofu?