Have you ever tried to fry or bake tofu, only for it to be soggy and fall apart? Chances are, you didn’t press your tofu! Press your tofu like I outline below and experience the difference!
I’m no vegetarian, but I love tofu.
People are always complaining about the blandness of tofu, but I see this more as an opportunity than an issue. I mean, sure, I like eating raw tofu too. If you were cooking with me and we were preparing tofu, you would probably see me sneak a piece of raw tofu or two like a weirdo.
But where others see blandness, I see an opportunity for maximum flavor infusion!
Here are my steps to getting the most flavor into my tofu:
1: Buy the firmest tofu you can get your hands on.
Soft and silken tofus are great for smoothies and the like. But when you’re cooking your tofu, firmness is key. Soft and silken tofus have a tendency to fall apart if you try to stir fry them anyway. I mean, technically you could. But your tofu going to be bland from being unable to absorb flavors and will be in tiny pieces.
Consider your block of tofu to be a sponge.
If you have a sponge full of old soapy water, you have to wring it out before putting new soap and water in it, right? It’s also a lot easier to add soap and water to a dry sponge. This is cleaning basics.
We are going to be treating the tofu the same way. If we want to add more flavors, its a lot easier to add it to a piece of tofu that is drained of diluting liquids.
Are my analogies making sense? Good! Moving on then…
2: Press it!
Yes, we are pressing this tofu of some of it’s liquid. If you don’t want to do a flavor infusion, that’s cool. Pressing the tofu makes it firmer (obvi) and therefore easier to cook.
But if you are doing extra flavor infusion, this will make it so we can add more flavors later.
How do you press tofu?
Good question! Pressing tofu is really simple. All you need is:
- A block of firm tofu (doesn’t that go without saying, though?)
- A clean tea towel
- Two plates the size of or bigger than the block of tofu
- A book or two weighing about 5 lbs. (a 10-lb. dictionary will destroy your tofu!)
The best part about pressing tofu is that you don’t need any fancy equipment. Just use what you have on hand!
Wrap your tofu in the tea towel. Place one plate underneath the tofu and one on top. Place books on top of everything. Your set up should look much like this:
How long do you press it for?
It really depends on how firm you want your tofu, how much time you have, and the firmness grade that you bought. The longer you press it, the more liquid will come out of it. And no, putting more weight on top won’t press it to the consistency that you want in a shorter time. You’ll just break your tofu. No bueno.
I aim for at least 20-30 minutes press time for firm-grade tofu. Sometimes, I’ll go for longer when I really want the liquid out of the block. If that is the case, I’ll take the towel off at the halfway mark and wring it out. Below is pictures of the tofu at different draining times. Note that the tofu out of the package is more narrow and taller than the two pressed pieces of tofu.
if you get medium firm, chances are you’ll have to drain it for longer.
At this point, you could take your tofu, cut it up, and put it in anything. This stage is particularly good for soups, curries, and stir-fries. It will have the chance to absorb the flavors the broth, curry, etc. But when there are no big flavors being added during cooking, this is the time for us to add them!
3: Flavor re-absorption! (optional)
This is the time we soak it in… something. We’re taking this time to refill our sponge with more desirable liquids and flavors.
Well, what kinds of liquids and flavors are we talking?
Really anything. Anything.
Next post, I’m going to show you what I soaked my tofu in. It’s gonna sound crazy, but it’s really good. So hold onto your hats!
But for now, know you can give it a spice rub. You could soak it in broth so that it has flavor when you put it on the grill. Add some soy sauce and some spices. Have fun with it!
Tofu also works really well with my Asian-inspired spice mix too, so go check that out!
What are some crazy things you have done with tofu? Let me know in the comments down below!