tofu cooking advice

Tofu, for me, was always this mysterious, lumpy substance that I swore I would never eat because it looked totally weird and smelled like nothing. “How good could it possibly taste?” I would muse before going back to my chicken nuggets. But then, as an adult, I found out just how good it really could be, and suddenly I could not get enough. That was when I realized I needed to learn how to cook it at home. These are my tips to getting it right the first time!

1. Get To Know Your Tofu

tofu cooking advice

Tofu comes in a variety of firmness levels. These are generally firm, extra-firm, silken, and soft. A good rule of thumb is if you want the tofu to maintain its consistency, as in a stir-fry or as a meat substitute, choose firm or extra-firm. If you want to blend it or use it in a dessert, use silken or soft tofu.

2. Start Simple

tofu cooking advice

If you’ve never cooked with tofu before, don’t jump into trying any complicated recipes just yet, such as making your own. Buy a block at the store and start with the basics of mastering the art making of crispy tofu. It’s delicious all on its own or can be the base for any dish in which you might normally use meat. Summertime? Simply chop up and skewer over a fire!

3. Press Out the Water

tofu cooking advice

Image via flickr

Firm or extra-firm tofu is like a sponge and absorbs the water it’s packed in. In order to get your tofu nice and crispy, you’re going to need to get rid of that water. The best way to do this is by pressing it out. Place your block of tofu on a layer of paper towels (or clean, folded dish towel). Cover it with another layer or towel. Then place a heavier item, like a wooden cutting board or book on top. Swap out the paper towels as they become wet. After around 30 minutes, you will have a more compact, firmer block of tofu, ready for slicing.

4. Marinade It

tofu cooking advice

By itself, tofu can be pretty bland. That’s why it’s a good idea to let it soak up some tastier substances. You can use a simple liquid base, such as soy sauce, vinegar, or lemon juice, or you can get ambitious and try one of these delicious marinade recipes. Cut your tofu into pieces no thicker than half an inch to maximize crispness and flavor.

5. Pop It In The Oven

tofu cooking advice

If you want to be ambitious right out of the gate, you can pan fry your tofu. But if you’re concerned about using too much oil or the even the idea of frying makes you queasy, try laying it out on parchment paper and popping it in the oven. After ten minutes at 400 degrees, flip it and allow it to bake for another eight minutes. Then, voila! Crispy tofu. And now you can use it in everything.

Do you have any concerns or questions about cooking tofu?