View Full Version : TOFU help!

04-09-2007, 07:16 AM
Ok, this is the third time in my life I've decided to incorporate tofu into my diet. I picked up an extra firm block...but my problem is that I never know how to prepare it. Then I get frustrated and toss it all out.:mad:

Can anyone recommend a web site or a book that instructs you how to really cook tofu? I'm looking to make side dishes and main meals out of it. How do you drain it well, prepare it for different types of cooking, etc.?:confused:

04-09-2007, 07:27 AM
My favorite method is to put it in stir fry - don't try to make it into meat or you'll be disappointed. To drain it I usually cut it up into cubes first and then sandwich it between paper towels while I prepare everything else. I usually do my veggies first and take them out, fry the tofu first to brown it a bit then add what ever extras (like garlic and ginger) /sauces I want. When that's all nice and done I add the veggies back in.

I like fairly strong and spicy sauces for tofu - like hot bean sauce or garlic black bean (though watch out this is usually very salty if you buy it prepared)

Another thing I like to do is buy the tofu that is already pressed and seasoned. 5 spice is my favorite. This needs no preparation or draining at all. I like to make noodle salads out of it. I buy these really fine rice noodles that you just need to soak. I combine these with pressed tofu, green onions, tomatoes, green (not ripe) mango, cucumber, cilantro and dress it with rice vinegar, Thai fish sauce, (a little soy if it needs some salt) and ground white pepper. I usually top it all off with some roughly chopped peanuts. Yummy.

04-09-2007, 08:22 AM
I eat alot of tofu (hey I am half Japanese it comes naturally) but I tend to like it used the old fashion way... I don't want to eat tofu-burgers or hot dogs or turkey. I use tofu in stir frys and soups. I usually buy the Japanese style tofu which is not firm but it doesn't really matter. If I am making a stir fry the tofu goes in at the last minute, to heat it up. My favorite way is in bean okazu. I brown hamburger (usually lean 15% fat) and onions, and then over it place a package of frozen string beans, add some water with soy and sugar, and allow it to stream the beans and then once the beans are cooked, throw in a package of tofu, cubed and stir it in. My favorite. I also like adding tofu to Miso based soups. The only weird tofu dish I like is tofu cutlets. You slice tofu into thin stripes (good use of firm tofu), marinate it in soy, sugar, garlic (if you like it - I don't) and whatever spices, then place the stripes on a cookie sheets lined with tin foil and place it in an oven at about 300 degrees and cook until dry and firm. This actually makes a good substitute for beef jerky on hikes. I also just like tofu plain with alittle soy.

Anyway there are a thousand tofu recipdes - just look them up on the internet.

04-09-2007, 08:23 AM
BTW id using with stir fry, you just open up the package, drain off the liquor, put it on a cutting board and cut it into cubes, toss it into the stir fry. It's not easy!

04-09-2007, 09:08 AM
Being a vegan, I eat a LOT of tofu. I'll add one more stir fry approach, something for breakfast, and a pasta dish.

For the stirfry, I take the cube of extra firm tofu (or 1/4 of it, if I'm making only enough for one meal), press the water out with my hands, and cut it up into smallish pieces (maybe 1/4 x 1/2 x 3/4 inch). Saute in olive oil until lightly browned, then add lots of vegetables (red peppers, onions, broccoli, zucchini, carrots, and mushrooms are my favorites) and about 1-2 teaspoons of fresh garlic, and saute for a few minutes. Add a sauce made of 2 parts Braggs aminos (or soy sauce) and one part hoisin sauce (for one serving, it's 2 tablespoons braggs and 1 tablespoon hoisin sauce) and a pinch of red pepper flakes. I also stir in some brown rice. Delicious!

For scrambled tofu for breakfast, saute about a cup and a half of onions, mushrooms, and peppers in a bit of olive oil, then crumble in a block of tofu with your fingers so it's still got a few small chunks. Add 1/8 teaspoon turmeric (to make it yellow like eggs) and 1/2 teaspoon onion powder, and salt and pepper to taste. Stir it all together really well and cook it until it's not wet anymore, about 5 minutes. This makes about 4 servings and is good reheated in the microwave, too.

I posted the stuffed shell recipe below earlier on this forum. You can use the tofu filling in lasagna also.

To answer your questions, one approach to draining it is to put it in a colander with a heavy saucepan on top. I always get extra firm, because I like it to hold together. I've got cookbooks that are specific to cooking tofu, but I never use them, don't remember the titles, and wouldn't recommend them. My favorite cookbook, which has several tofu recipes, is The Compassionate Cook which PETA publishes.

OK, so here's the stuffed shell recipe:

Vegan Stuffed Shells

2 lb tofu (press water out and crumble)
1/3 c fresh lemon juice
2 1/2 T sugar or honey
1 t salt
4 T oil
3 t basil
1 t garlic powder

Mix everything together in a food processor until it is smooth.

Sauce (or use your own favorite)
1/2 c olive oil (or less)
1 medium onion, diced
2-3 carrots, diced
2 celery stalks, diced
1/4 lb mushrooms, sliced
1 green pepper, diced

Saute the veggies in oil until tender.

6 c tomato sauce (or 3 c sauce and some canned tomatoes)
1 t basil
1/2 c fresh parsley
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 T wine vinegar
1 t salt

Add to veggies and simmer over low heat for 30 minutes.

Boil a boxful of shells, stuff them with the filling and put them in a 9x13 (or larger) pan, and pour sauce over them, then heat in a 350 oven till warm.

04-09-2007, 09:48 AM
I'm sitting here eating my veggie soup, with tofu, of course. Stir fried cabbage, zucchini, kale in a spicy mushroom broth. We cut the tofu into small squares, stir fried it separately, drizzled a little tamrai and added it to the soup.

One of DH's favorite soups to make is a tomato peanut butter curry. That one gets the cubes of tofu tossed in at the end. No browning for them.

Some recipes scream for the fried taste; others want it softer. Note: if you don't want to stir fry it....spray a little cooking oil on it and broil it in the oven.

Oh, and for a crumbly recipe, freeze it and then thaw it out. The freezing changes its texture and it crumbles better.

04-09-2007, 09:58 AM
ohhh I almost forgot another one of my favorite recipes - very, very easy this one isn't exaclty low fat though...

cut a tofu block into slices
stir fry until browned
add 1 can of coconut milk (I always use light to cut down on the fat and calories a little bit)
red curry paste to suit your tastes (I like it a bit on the spicier side and usually put in about 2 tsp - but it will depend on the brand too I would think)
1 tbs Thai fish sauce
about a cup of ground peanuts
stir it all together and turn off the heat

put it all on top of a bed of raw spinach and serve with jasmine rice - yummmy yummy

like some of the others I also like to use soft tofu in soup/soup like dishes- I like to stir fry nappa cabbage or bok choy together with bamboo shoots and cloud ear mushrooms (also called black fungus) season it with hot bean paste with black beans and garlic, add a lot of chicken stock (veggie if you prefer - I would bet mushroom stock would be really good in this!)- enough to make it soupy and then add silken tofu and green onions at the end. Served over rice and eaten with a spoon.

04-09-2007, 10:05 AM
Wow, thanks so much!! I believe I will try to cook a stir-fry now, hopefully I'll have good news to report :p

04-09-2007, 10:16 AM
Tofu basics:

There are several types of tofu and its based on smoothness/firmness

silken -- as name implies it is very smooth like a custard, used in miso soups, yu-dofu, hiya-yakko in Japan and in Mapo-Dofu or Homestyle-tofu chinese.

firm -- not as smooth nor as soft. it can hold its shape while cooking

extra firm -- as the name implies it is very firm and will hold shape while cooking as in stir frys. The texture tends to be coarser more like cottage chesse. Extra firm or firm is used in things like Yaki-dofu (grilled tofu with teriyaki like sauce).

Depending on the supplier, the firmness can be rated with different names and catagories.

One quick way to tell is look at the smoothness of the surface. If its very smooth and has a sheen or mirror like surface its silken. If it has a pattern like a woven fabric (because its pressed with fabric to remove the water) then its firm or extra firm.

Which one you want to use is your personal preference with texture. For recipe's check Vegetarian cook books or Vegan cookbooks such as:

Laurel's Kitchen (highly recommended for anyone wanting to go vegetarian)
Moosewood Cookbooks ...

04-09-2007, 11:57 AM
Thanks for more tips.
I made some tofu in a broccoli stir-fry with brown rice...it was okay. I guess I have to get used to the texture/flavor of tofu...and continue to try more recipes. I'm not looking to go vegetarian or vegan, but I am trying to incorporate a healthier diet into my life...:)

04-09-2007, 12:56 PM
Chiming in with my favorite tofu recipe:


These are very simple to make and fun to eat. Kids love them! You can serve them as an hors d'oeuvre on toothpicks or on top of pasta with tomato sauce.

cup uncooked short grain brown rice
1 cup water
A little olive oil for the baking sheet or frying pan
2 Tbs. soy sauce
lb. of firm tofu, mashed
cup (rounded measure) of ground almonds
cup fine bread crumbs
Sea salt to taste

1. Place the rice and water in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, cover, and lower the heat to the slowest possible simmer. Cook until very soft (mushy, even) - about 35 to 45 minutes.
2. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and lightly oil a baking sheet.
3. Place soy sauce and 1/2 the mashed tofu in a blender or food processor, and add about of the cooked rice. Blend to a thick paste.
4. Place the remaining tofu in a medium-sized bowl. Add the blended mixture, along with the almonds, bread crumbs, and remaining rice. Add salt to taste.
5. Using your hands, form the batter into 1-inch balls.

6. Bake them on a lightly oiled tray for 30 minutes. Serve hot!

From "The Enchanted Broccoli Forest" by Mollie Katzen (author of Moosewood Cookbook)

04-09-2007, 01:58 PM
Having been a professional cook for twenty years I have a few ideas for ya. Soft tofu(silken) can be used in place of cream cheese,sour cream and mayo in cold recipes. I.E. Salads and salad dressing. Remember that tofu takes on the taste of whatever its mixed with. Do not over cook it also. It should be the last thing you add right before serivng. You are actually just warming it. Its already been cooked.. My personal fav is using it in Capri salad and now that summer is right around the corner with all those fresh tomatoes and basil. Heres the recipe. Extra firm tofu that has been pressed. ( Take it out of the package drain off water then put in a glass dish with a heavy weight on top of it to expell even more water -usually about 4 hours but can go overnight.) Cut into bite size cubes then toss with good quality balsamic vinegar and extra virgin olive oil. Then add diced fresh tomatoes and basil. Season with fresh crack pepper and sea salt. Yum!!!:D Please visit the Epicurious web site for even more ideas.

04-09-2007, 03:23 PM
I like tofu enough that I will just eat a slice of it (cold) with some wasabi and tamari. I like the taste and texture of "cotton" style and "silk" style, and this is certainly a fast and simple way to prepare tofu!

You can also simmer a big hunk of tofu in a brown sugar syrup, it ends up kind of like flan, but more delicate. Very nice with a few fresh raspberries on top.

04-09-2007, 09:26 PM
I like tofu enough that I will just eat a slice of it (cold) with some wasabi and tamari. I like the taste and texture of "cotton" style and "silk" style, and this is certainly a fast and simple way to prepare tofu!

You can also simmer a big hunk of tofu in a brown sugar syrup, it ends up kind of like flan, but more delicate. Very nice with a few fresh raspberries on top.

Very much like hiya-yakko. cold silken tofu served with shreded ginger and finely chopped green onion on top. pour small amount of soy sauce instead of tamari. Some will even put bonito shaving on top. Very Japanese. I think you might like the ginger instead of wasabi. The taste of ginger is refreshing cool but hot. Wasabi lacks that mint like coolness that ginger has. Very much a summer dish.

Try it you'll like it. ;)

04-09-2007, 09:30 PM
Ooooh, that sounds GOOD!

yes, I'll have to try that.

04-10-2007, 10:46 AM
Here's some recipes (http://bodynbrain.com/01_magazine/news_view.asp?seqNO=137&topic=Food) published in a yoga magazine I subscribe to. The silken tofu with soy sauce seasoning is just a variation(more Korean-style) of hiya-yakko that smilingcat posted. The tofu quesadillas are tasty, although I think I used colby jack instead of the mozerella. I haven't tried the eggplant/tofu recipe yet.

Also, DH likes it when I pan fry firm tofu in some olive oil on medium heat until it forms a golden crispy crust on the outside. Then just as you take it off the heat pour over a mixture of soy sauce, minced ginger and garlic, chopped green onions, touch of sesame oil, and, if you like, some red pepper flakes. It may smoke or steam, so be careful. Then immediately transfer to a plate so the sauce doesn't cook to much.

Oh, remember to use the aromatic sesame oil(carmel in color) found in the Asian section of the grocery store made from toasted sesame seeds, not the light colored oil (usually sold in the health food section).

04-11-2007, 11:45 AM
I make baked tofu cubes to throw in salads, stir fries etc - I cook it thoroughly so it is crunchy on the outside and no longer soft and white in the middle.


Take 1 block of firm or extra-firm, sandwich between paper towels and a dry dish towel, and put something heavy on top (like a frying pan). Let sit for 15 minutes or so. This drains out some of the moisture. Then cut into small blocks.
I marinate the tofu in either a combo of soy sauce and a bit of sesame oil, or balsamic and olive oil (the latter needs salt). You need a little oil or the soy sauce will burn in the oven and the tofu will stick. Marinate from 10 min to a couple of hours.
Preheat oven to 400. Cover a baking sheet with foil (if you don't want to clean it afterward!). Arrange tofu in a single layer. Bake for 15 minutes. Gently turn over the blocks, and then bake for 15 more minutes.

Throw on top of salads, noodles or rice, or eat by themselves as a snack!

04-11-2007, 12:47 PM
One of my favorites is curried tofu with cauliflower. Cut a cauliflower into bite sized pieces, same with a package of medium firm tofu. Then saute a lot of fresh chopped garlic in olive oil (I do this in a wok), then add the cauliflower and tofu and stir fry with a bunch of good quality curry powder and salt to taste. Mmmm. Tofu is best when it absorbs strong flavors like the curry and garlic in this dish.

04-12-2007, 03:33 AM
These recipes sound great...can't wait to try them out. I'm especially looking forward to the stuffed shells but that's just 'cause I'm Italian :D