You’ve been hearing all about tofu for your entire life, and you’ve undoubtedly heard people complain about it, but we’re going to raise questions that both you and those around you never even asked: what is tofu? What sort of food is it? We’re going to give you the Tofu 101; not only what tofu, is, but how to prepare it, and by the end of this article, you might just be on your way out to pick some up.
Understanding Tofu – A Quick Description
At first look, you might mistake tofu for cheese, and it is definitely the soy equivalent. It’s created by soaking soybeans in water and grinding them to create soy milk. At that point, it is treated using a coagulant, which separates the protein and creates a curd. Once the curd is separated, it is pressed into blocks, which are the tofu blocks that you buy at the store. Okay, was that complicated enough for you? Yeah, we think we’ve had enough of that, so we’re going to move on to the different types of tofu.
Which Type of Tofu is Right for You?
Like any other food, there are different types of tofu, and they’re all quite different:
This type of Tofu has the most water content, and its’ very soft. The only problem with it is that it will actually break up if you attempt to fry it, so it’s probably best baked or eaten raw.
Firm/Extra Firm Tofu
There are several different types of firm tofu, but the bottom line is that it’s more solid, and definitely more meaty. Yes, you can fry this one.
This is a variant of firm tofu that has been smoked in the manner of cheese, and it almost always has a smoke flavoring.
Preparing Tofu – How Will You Do It?
There are many people who consider tofu as more of a texture than a flavor when they are cooking it, but you should also consider that it is very absorbent. That being the case, you can add marinades and sauces to it, which will definitely enhance the flavor of your dish. It’s a great way to change your dish entirely and really shape it the way you want.
As far as actually cooking the tofu goes, the different types have their different cooking methods. Take the silken tofu that we mentioned – it’s not great for frying, it breaks sup easily, and we always found that it was best used in broths or soups so that it can soak up the flavor and really shine.
Now if you want to cook firm tofu, you definitely want to pan fry it until it’s nice and crispy. If you’re a brand new vegan and you miss the taste or consistency of meat, then this is definitely something that you’ll want to have on your plate.
Before you do cook your tofu, however, especially firm tofu, we strongly recommend wrapping it in a paper towel so that it will be able to dry out a bit. Fun fact: wet tofu isn’t going to brown, and with that being the case, you want it as dry as possible. If you have cut your tofu, blot it with a paper towel before pan frying. Another common method, however, is to dust it with a light layer of flour.
As always, tofu is a food that benefits deeply from salt, whether you use sea salt, or want to get a little adventurous and use soy sauce – either way, you’re going to have an amazing flavor that anyone can get behind.
Tofu is a great beat substitute and a great addition to any meal – take our above tips to heart and create yourself the perfect meal.