Learn all about what tofu is, how to prepare tofu and how to cook tofu and see my collection of vegan tofu recipes that transform it in unexpected & super tasty ways.
Tofu. It seems people either love it or hate it.
Some people literally have no clue what to do with it so never consider buying it, and some people have been traumatized by a badly cooked recipe at some point in their life and have avoided it at all costs ever since. And then there are the people who are wary of it because of the stories that go around regarding it's affect on our health. If you are one of them, have a read of this article about soy from The Physician's Committee for Responsible Medicine.
I'm not up for debate around soy here by the way. I have no time for the vegan food police that always turn up when soy or oil or sugar is mentioned and I don't want to hear that it's poison or will kill me, or that it will give Mr AVV man boobs ;O)
Isn't it strange that something that has existed for centuries, is so misunderstood?
I find that most of the people I talk to, who believe they don't like tofu, have not actually prepared it properly. Correct preparation and cooking is what makes all the difference, but before we get on to my collection of amazingly delicious vegan tofu recipes, let's learn a little more about what tofu is.
WHAT IS TOFU?
Tofu is made from soybean milk and soy bean milk is made from mature white soybeans, then boiled, curdled, and pressed, in a very similar way to how cheese is made. To make the milk, the soybeans are first soaked, then ground up and warmed with water. They are then strained and become soy milk. That milk is then combined with a coagulant and simmered until the curds and whey separate, then the curds are placed into molds and pressed until the whey drains out and a block of tofu is left. The firmness of the tofu depends on how long it is pressed. If it is pressed longer, more whey is removed, creating firmer tofu.
WHAT DOES TOFU TASTE LIKE?
Tofu has a very neutral, mild flavour and straight out of the package, it's pretty plain and boring. Much like unseasoned, plain chicken would be. The great thing about it though, is that it takes on the flavour of whatever you cook it with.
TIPS FOR PREPARING TOFU
- It is really important that you buy the right tofu for the recipe you are making. Always check the type of tofu that is specified in your recipe before you get going. It comes in many different varieties. These include, soft, firm, extra-firm and super-firm, as well as soft silken, firm silken and extra-firm silken.
- Most tofu (except soft and silken) benefit from being pressed. You can buy a Tofu Press to do this. If you have never seen a tofu press before, this is an example of two of the most common kinds:
I have the EZ Tofu Press which is the bottom one. I prefer it because you can fit all different sized blocks of tofu in it and you don't need to cut them to fit.
- And if you don't own a tofu press, you can still easily press your tofu. you just need to get creative. Open the package, drain out the liquid, wrap the tofu in a clean absorbent cloth or some paper towels and pile some heavy things on the top of it. Cookbooks work well! Leave it for about 30 minutes or longer if you can.
- Not only does pressing improve the texture, it also helps with the flavour. If you don't press out the water that's already in it, then the flavours you are using when cooking won't get in.
- Once the tofu has been pressed fill it with flavor by marinating it or seasoning it really well. People don't eat meat just as it is. They season it up with herbs and spices. You need to do the same with tofu.
- My favourite tip for getting the very best texture from extra firm tofu, is to put the whole unopened package in the freezer as soon as you buy it. Then defrost it when you need it, and press it once it has defrosted. Don't ask me why, but it really improves the texture, and it's something that I do every-time I buy it.
- Coat tofu in seasoned cornstarch (cornflour in the UK) then pan fry to make it super-duper crispy.
HOW TO COOK TOFU
Tofu is not just for stir fries. It is a really multi purpose ingredient, as you will see from my collection of Vegan Tofu Recipes below. You can cook tofu by baking it, sautéing it, scrambling it, poaching it, make sauces with it. You can even use it is an egg replacer.
The most common ways to cook tofu are:
- Oven baked tofu - (best made with extra firm tofu)Press the tofu, cut it into pieces, place in an ovenproof dish, cover with a tofu marinade or glaze/sauce (allow it to soak in for about 30 minutes if you can), then bake at around 400°F for around 30 minutes until golden brown.
- Sautéed tofu - (best made with extra firm tofu) Toss pressed tofu cubes in cornstarch, then sauté over a medium heat with a little oil of choice until golden and crispy. You can also skip the cornstarch and sauté the cubes in a little of whatever sauce you are using until they get sticky and slightly crusty and super yum.
- Scrambled tofu - (best made with medium firm tofu although extra firm is ok too) Scrambled tofu is an excellent scrambled eggs replacement. I don't press mine when I scramble it. Just heat a pan over a medium heat, and crumble the block of tofu into it with your fingers. You can add chopped vegetables, herbs and spices and even some Kala Namak to give it an eggy flavour.
So now we've talked about all of the different varieties of tofu, how to prepare tofu and how to cook tofu, let's see some recipes that use it.
Here are my Vegan Tofu Recipes That Actually Taste Good and will transform that white block of soy bean curd, in both unexpected, and super tasty ways.
Vegan French Toast
Vegan French Toast Casserole
Tofu in Purgatory (Shakshuka)
Vegan Feta Cheese
Vegan Cream Cheese
Show-Stopping Baked Spinach and Artichoke Dip
Creamy Onion Garlic Dip
Vegan Scrambled Eggs
Creamy Lemon Asparagus Pasta Salad
Sweet and Sour Tofu
Easy Coconut Tofu
Five Spice Tofu with Chili Ginger Sauce
Easy Vegan Cheese Sauce (no nuts!)
Creamy Vegan Mushroom Pasta
Smoked Tofu Salad with Dried Apricots
Sticky Coconut Lime Pan-Fried Tofu
That's all the delicious vegan tofu recipes I have for now, but I will add to this post as and when I create more. In fact there's a new one on it's way very soon and I am so excited about sharing it!