It took me 25 years to start cooking with tofu.
Before that, I never even tasted it, nor had I ever been in the same room as it! In my mind it was just some strange, white squishy stuff served at Asian restaurants for vegetarians.
After I started a family and ventured into my own cooking journey, my appetite for meat grew less and less, and I slowly started experimenting with tofu. At first, I just bought a package, cut it up and tossed it in with stir fry vegetables and sauce. The taste has been tolerable, especially when fried until golden brown on all sides. But it’s never been a favorite… until I learned how to prepare tofu properly.
I’ve been trying to train my tastebuds to crave tofu. It only took a year of experimentation to realize I’d been doing it all wrong… Oops.
Here’s how to prepare tofu so it tastes good
Buy the firm or extra firm tofu and freeze it. This changes the texture and makes it a bit denser, or more “meaty”. Place your tofu in the freezer and move it to the refrigerator the day before you plan to use it. Or set it on the counter in the morning to thaw by dinner.
2. Press and Squeeze
Tofu contains an incredible amount of water. Gently squeeze the block of tofu between two cutting boards, baking sheets or plates. They even make an official Tofu Press. (Who knew?) Remove as much water as possible. Then, set a can of beans or something of similar weight on top for an additional 20-30 minutes to remove even more water. The more water you remove, the better it will be able to absorb your marinade or sauce.
Small cubes. Large Cubes. Strips. Triangles. Squares. Hearts. Diamonds. Circles. Whichever you prefer for your dish! I personally prefer to cut it into smaller cubes.
The longer you marinate it, the more flavor it will absorb and the better tasting it will be. Marinate for at least 30 minutes up to an entire day before.
Here’s the recipe I used in my pictures. Cut back on hot sauce if you don’t want it too spicy because this set my mouth on fire! I love spicy food though, so it’s totally your call.
Sweet & Spicy Marinade
1 brick of pressed tofu, cubed
1/3 cup soy sauce
3 tablespoons maple syrup or honey
2 tablespoons hot sauce
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
5. Coat and Fry
Remove tofu from marinade and set extra sauce aside. Coat tofu with cornstarch, salt and pepper. Heat 3tbsp olive oil on high heat and fry tofu until browned on all sides. Add remaining sauce and serve over a plate of rice noodles and vegetables.
It’s pretty much amazing.
If you haven’t tried making tofu this way, do it! You won’t be disappointed… unless you don’t like the taste of your marinade! Your tofu will taste just like your sauce, so be sure to try it with your favorite stir fry sauce first!