Tofu has had a bad rap over the years due to its lack of taste, and let’s face it – sometimes it’s quite deserved. But, as with many foods, there’s a trick to making tofu taste awesome. And trust us, it really can taste amazing.

First though, let’s talk about what tofu actually is.

Tofu is to soya beans what fresh cheese is to milk. If you’ve ever separated milk curds from whey to make paneer or ricotta, you’ll find the tofu making process very similar. First off, the soya beans are soaked and then usually blended. The solids are then separated from the liquid (soya milk) and curdled with a coagulant like lemon juice. After straining even more liquid out and pressing the solids, you’re left with a solid block of tofu. That’s it!

Tofu is a good source of protein with around 8g / 100g. It also contains all eight essential amino acids and is an excellent source of iron and calcium, so it really is a healthy addition to most people’s diet!

There are a number of types of tofu, but the two types you’re most likely to find in supermarkets are Silken and Firm. There’s a massive difference between these two types, so let’s look at them.

raw-tofu

Silken Tofu
* use as a liquid *

Silken Tofu can be deceiving because it’s usually sold as a block, but as soon as you open it you’ll notice it falls apart very quickly. This is not the tofu you marinade and put in a stir fry! Silken Tofu is fantastic for making thick sauces and smoothies or turning into a quiche or even a creamy dessert.

 

Firm Tofu
* use as a solid *

If you’re after a ‘meat’ alternative in your meal, firm tofu is what you need! A block of firm tofu is very much like a sponge, so it will absorb whichever flavours it’s cooked with or marinated in. However, it’s generally sold soaking in brine, so it’s important to try and remove as much of the brine as you can to get the best from your tofu.

The main way to do this is to press the brine out of the tofu. There are commercial tofu presses available, but you can also wrap the block in a tea towel and put something heavy on it for an hour or two. A couple of cartons of milk or a bag of sugar or flour will do the trick here!

However, there is one more trick which will not only remove more of the brine, but make your tofu even firmer. Freeze it first.

There’s a big difference in texture between tofu that has been frozen and defrosted, and tofu that hasn’t. You’ll notice that defrosted tofu will hold it’s shape better, allowing you to give it a good squeeze with your hands without it crumbling. It will also lose the brine faster than its refrigerated counterpart when you press it.

Once your tofu has been pressed, it will absorb the flavours of whatever you cook it with much more successfully. For the best, most flavourful tofu, marinate it overnight before cooking it.

tofu-slices

Different ways to cook firm tofu


Baked Tofu

Baking tofu in the oven is a great way to get a good, chewy texture out of it. The liquid will have had a chance to evaporate in the oven, meaning that if you’ve marinated it you’ll get a good, solid flavour from it. You can have baked tofu right out of the oven or you can let it cool and add it to a salad. Try some of these baked tofu recipes.

 

Black Strap Tofu
Egg, Dairy & Nut Free, Gluten Free, Vegan

Image & recipe: The Buddhist Chef

Image & recipe: The Buddhist Chef

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Baked Tofu for Salads
Egg, Dairy & Nut Free, Gluten Free, Vegan

Image & recipe: the kitchn

Image & recipe: the kitchn

info-salad


 

Fried Tofu

If you’re after a good, crispy tofu, the trick is to coat it in cornflour and then fry it. If you have a favourite recipe for sweet & sour or crispy lemon chicken, you can very easily make the same sauce and add your fried tofu to it for a meat-free alternative. Need some inspiration? Try some of these recipes.

Crispy Orange Ginger Tofu
Egg, Dairy & Nut Free, Gluten Free, Vegan

orange-ginger-tofu

Image & recipe: Connoisseurus Veg

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Crispy salt and pepper tofu
Egg, Dairy & Nut Free, Gluten Free, Vegan

Image & recipe: Quite Good Food

Image & recipe: Quite Good Food

info-saltpepper


 

Use it in place of paneer

If you love a good Paneer curry but can’t stomach the dairy, you’re in luck! Firm tofu can very easily replace the paneer – try these two good recipes.

 

Palak Tofu
Egg & Dairy Free, Gluten Free, Vegan

Image and recipe: Elephantastic Vegan

Image and recipe: Elephantastic Vegan

info-palaktofu

 

 

Tofu Tikka Masala
Egg, Dairy & Nut Free, Gluten Free, Vegan

tofu-tikka-masala

Image & recipe: Food Pleasure And Health

info-tikkamasala


 

Scrambled Tofu

Scrambled tofu is a common replacement for eggs in a vegan breakfast. It’s a good idea to play around with the herbs and spices yourself to get the mix that suits your taste. There’s an ingredient called Kala Namak, or Black Salt, which is a pink coloured salt that has a distinct smell of sulphur about it and it’s often used to help flavour ‘eggy’ dishes. Although it’s not vital, it can go a long way with this dish! Try this recipe for starters.

 

Tofu Scrambled ‘Eggs’
Egg, Dairy & Nut Free, Gluten Free, Vegan

Image & recipe: Fork And Beans

Image & recipe: Fork And Beans

info-scramble


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