Tomorrow I’m going to undertake a real cooking adventure. I will cook tofu. I mean, I loved it both times I tried it. But nobody’s been offering to feed it to me for a while, and I’m tired of stalking vegetarians with a dejected “I’m so hungry” look. Especially since they try to be nice and give me chicken.
I’m completely clueless about tofu. I’m so clueless, it took me a month actually to find it at the grocery store. I mean, what kind of a perverted mind would guess it’s hiding in the yogurt section?
It’s not like foix gras, is it? It doesn’t melt in the pan, right?
16 thoughts on “The Tofu Adventure”
I don’t believe it melts in the pan, since otherwise you wouldn’t be able to grill it and put it in kebabs.
It just absorbs the flavour of anything else you put it in. Normally I put it in a vegetable stir-fry (very little oil, lemon/soy sauce/hot sauce sauce, serve over rice)
There are different consistencies of tofu and I’m blanking on what the official names are. The harder type (usually sold in groceries I think) can be cut up and fried or put in soup.
The flavor is very mild but like Stille said it absorbs flavors around it.
I sometimes wouldn’t cook it, just slice very thin and drizzle some soy sauce and sesame oil over it (but soy sauce is very salty so….)
You also might want to try tempeh (a different soy product with a very different taste). It used to be available in larger health food stores, I don’t know if it ever went mainstream.
Tofu is very easy to cook once you get used to preparing it! Firm tofu works great in stir fries, or lightly pan fried (very, very little oil is needed). To make it crisp up nicely, be sure to compress it first to get rid of excess water – I usually wrap it in several kitchen towels or a cheesecloth/clean washcloth, place it on a plate and then put a heavy pan on top and let it sit for 30-40 minutes to drain. Then you can cut it up and cook it. I also love silken tofu – it is great cut up in soups, or thinly slices with sesame oil and a tiny bit of soy sauce, as suggested above. It pairs really nicely with avocados, if you can get ripe ones in your area.
There’s a Thai place near me that makes a peanut and spinach curry, and adds thinly sliced silken tofu to it. It’s sooooo good. I haven’t tried to make the recipe at home though. Good luck!
You either want to have it extra firm, and press the extra water out of it, then fry it crispy, or use a softer one and put it in soup. Those, at least, are the easiest ways.
I had absolutely no idea it could be used in soups. This is fascinating.
Tofu is often in soups at Chinese restaurants. Of course, it is not called by the Japanese name tofu. It is often called bean curd, I think.
I’ve never been to a Chinese restaurant. I’ve been to the local Chinese buffet but it’s Chinese because the owner is. The food is very typically American. Delicious. But beyond unhealthy. So I only went twice.
How did it go?
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I discovered that I don’t have anything that goes with tofu, like sesame oil or soy sauce. So I had to put it off until tomorrow. This is complicated.
I haven’t ever made tofu with sesame oil or soy sauce. What I do is I press the water out of firm tofu, cut it into cubes and aggressively season it. I would set aside some of the total salt in the dish for this as well. I do this because tofu is bland and if you use it in a stir fry you cannot stir it around much because it breaks apart.
This ensures when you bite into tofu it is seasoned instead of having seasoned everything else and bland tofu.
I make green pepper tofu which is hot and I eat that with rice, but maybe you could make it soupier (since you are trying to avoid rice.)
Season with what, though?
When I make green pepper tofu, I use lots of freshly ground pepper, red pepper flakes, chili powder and turmeric. I also use mustard seeds and freshly grated ginger but that doesn’t go right on the tofu.
Whatever you use in the rest of the dish — soy sauce, salt, pepper, miso sauce, sriracha, red chili paste, garlic, powdered ginger (for example), you also flavor your tofu with, separately, before you toss the cubes in.
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I make a very good and healthy dish with tofu. I know you or N may not like all these ingredients but you can change it up as you see fit.
1) I take very firm tofu (the firmest variety) and cut it into cubes. I then toss the tofu with very finely chopped red onion and very finely chopped jalapeno. I then let the tofu rest for just a bit.
2) While tofu’s resting, I make a dressing of Thai fish sauce (can substitute in soy sauce), chili paste, brown sugar, and lots of lime juice. Again, you can play with the flavors as you see fit. The most important elements are really the fish/soy sauce and the lime.
3) Chop about 1/2 a bunch of cilantro, a good handful of basil, and a handful of mint. Again, this can be done to taste. If you only like cilantro, only add cilantro. Mix all herbs and set aside.
4) Take just a bit of olive oil (or grape seed or any healthy oil) and heat in a pan. When hot (should sizzle when water is added), add the raw tofu. When the tofu cubes are nicely browned on all sides, it’s done. Onions and jalapeno should be just barely cooked here.
5) Remove the tofu from the pan and let cool just a bit. Then add the lime juice dressing and the fresh herbs.
9)Serve the tofu with large pieces of lettuce. (You spoon the tofu mixture into the lettuce to eat.) I usually serve this with rice or thin noodles and then add the rice/noodles to the lettuce leaves along with the tofu mixture. But if you want to avoid all starches, you can just do tofu and lettuce.
(Also, the tofu can be substituted with any protein: fish, ground turkey, shrimp etc.)
Thank you, this sounds great. I need soy sauce because I’m terrified of the fish sauce.