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Saturday, November 21, 2009

How the heck do you cook tofu?

Ro and Ree love tofu, unfortunately their mama is a crappy cook and doesn't know the first thing about making good tofu... Heh. Usually I buy the medium firm stuff, cube it, then toss it in some broth and call it "soup." Yeah... not so imaginative, huh? The other day I decided to get all wild and crazy and try to make that yummy fried tofu that we get in restaurants. But first, I don't know what it's called, and second, I was kind of overwhelmed by all the different tofu recipes online. Finally I just picked one at random and had at it. Here's the one I (attempted) to make: Crispy Fried Tofu Ingredients: 1 block firm or extra firm tofu 3 tbsp nutritional yeast 2 tbsp flour 2 tsp garlic powder 1/2 tsp salt 1/2 tsp pepper 2 tbsp olive oil DSC_8109LRs Preparation: Slice the tofu into 1/2 inch cubes. In a small bowl (or a zip-lock bag), combine the tofu with the remaining ingredients, except the oil, and toss gently to coat the tofu well. DSC_8110LRs In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium heat and add the tofu. Cook for 4 to 6 minutes, turning occasionally, until golden brown and lightly crispy. (I also sauted some mushrooms in a separate pan and threw them in near the end.) DSC_8114LRs Ok, "attempted" is really the operative word here. It didn't turn out quite like I had envisioned: a little too heavy on the garlic taste, the coating really didn't stick to the tofu very well, and it took FOREVER to get even slightly brown and crispy. I didn't have any of that "nutritional yeast" stuff, so maybe that was the problem? Who knows. It was alright, but not great by any means... So what did I do wrong? More importantly, does anyone have any other great tofu recipes to share? Ro and Ree thank you in advance.


  1. Long time lurker...love your blog! Piping up b/c I too have been on a quest for the perfect tofu recipe. I tried this last week and it was GREAT! After I baked it, I added it to my stir fry and it was the perfect texture!

  2. The kids I nanny for LOVE baked tofu. I'm not a big fan because it's pretty flavourless, but they think it's wonderful, dip it in soy sauce, etc.

    * 16-ounce tub firm or extra firm tofu
    * 3 tablespoons wheat germ
    * 2 tablespoons cornmeal
    * 1 teaspoon seasoned salt
    * Marinara or barbecue sauce (warmed), or ketchup

    Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

    Cut the tofu into 3/4-inch-thick slices. Blot well between clean tea-towels or several layers of paper towel, then cut into 3/4-inch dice. Combine the wheat germ, cornmeal, and seasoned salt in a mixing bowl. Add the tofu chunks and stir gently until evenly coated.

    Arrange the tofu on a lightly oiled non-stick baking sheet. Bake for 15 minutes, stirring once or twice during this time, or until golden and firm. Serve at once with sauce of your choice for dipping or topping.

  3. I haven't tried this, but I have read that if you freeze tofu then thaw it and squeeze out the excess moisture it gives it the texture of meat.

  4. This is super simple and delicious. Of course - it's predicated on the twinadoes eating spinach...

    Cook up a whole bunch of fresh spinach. Once drained, transfer it to a very very low-heat fry pan and then just toss in your cubed un-cooked tofu. The secret is that you sprinkle a generous amount of sesame oil on it - nothing else. Just keep tossing the sesame oil with the tofu and spinach. You don't want to break the tofu pieces - so be gentle. Just heat til warm and serve immediately. It really is delicious.

  5. flat cube silk tofu in a dish, top off with a teaspoon full of ground uncooked shrimp (you can ground the shrimp at home by chopping up a lot, season with salt, pepper, some sesame oil). generous splash of soy sauce all over, and garlic oil. Steam until shrimp cooks through, sprinkle with chopped green onions, then spoon soy and oil back over the tofu and serve. yum!

  6. Anonymous11/21/2009

    You need to squeeze out all excess moisture--it makes all the difference. Take about 4- 5 paper towels and wrap it around the whole block of tofu (needs to be pretty thick). Put the wrapped block on a plate or flat surface. Place another plate ON TOP of the tofu, with something heavy (book or canned good works well) on top of the empty plate. Let it sit for 10-15 minutes. If the papertowels get completely saturated, recover and press it some more.

  7. Ahhh, it did not work because the mushrooms were releasing liquid and softening the tofu! Cook the tofu in oil in a HOT pan very, very quickly.

  8. Fry it up with bacon :)

  9. Anonymous11/21/2009

    I'm going to try the spinach and tofu recipe because it sounds delicious.

    Did R and Ree like your creation? The picture looked quite god.

  10. I'd offer up a recipe, but the Tongginator is somewhat strange. She LOVES and ADORES steamed tofu... with nothing on it. Absolutely nothing - just steamed. Everyone who know this about her thinks she is very odd.

  11. I love tofu too, always have. I like to toss it with a mixture of hoisin and oyster sauce, and then stirfry it with veggies. One note about the spinach with tofu: I've heard that something in the spinach could possibly react with the tofu and harden it and make it hard to digest. Some even say it causes stones in the digestive tract. Not sure if it's just a "Chinese urban myth" that my Chinese-Canadian parents have made up or if there's something scientific behind it. Worth checking out though....

  12. Should have googled it first.... Apparently, it's the oxalates in both the tofu and spinach that have been implicated in the formation of kidney stones. But there's nothing about increasing the risk by putting them together. I guess everything in moderation. That will never stop me from eating tofu, and I love soymilk too.

  13. Ditto with the idea of squeezing the excess liquid out of the tofu. That made a big difference for me with being able to get crispy tofu when stir-frying

  14. Chinabound11/21/2009

    We like it best on the grill. Buy the extra firm, apply weight to it with paper towels to get excess water out; cube it and add favorite marinade (just recently we tried a hawaiian one and a sesame ginger that were both quite tasty;let it sit overnight with favorite chopped veggies (we like red and yellow bell peppers and onions); skewer and throw on the grill OR throw it all together and bake it for about 1/2 hour on 350. We usually have a side of brown rice or a baked potato and if you are baking it, you have many more veggie choices since you don't have to worry about skewering and falling through grill :).

  15. My son (age 13) LOVES tofu tacos! Make sure tofu is well-drained (I cube mine, put it in a mesh collander overnight). I cook canned stewed tomatoon high until they fall apart and are thick. Add cumin and other mexican spices to taste (or cheat and use a low-sodium taco seasoning). Add tofu until it is heated through. Cullen likes his tofu to start falling apart. Serve in soft tortilla shells with the usual taco toppings. Cullen would rather eat the tofu taco than any other!

  16. Sorry, I am a vegetarien but I don't eat tofu!! Just can't stand it! LOL!!

  17. The Tate-r-bug LOVES tofu too! I slice from a firm block then slice again so it is in strips. I will marinade in teriyake sauce overnight and pan fry it. She will eat it for dinner and left overs the whole time smacking her lips! Momma likes it too!

  18. easy and my girls have been eating it forever.
    cut extra firm tofu into any size cubes you want and fry at med hi heat........higher than you'd think.......until browned. put in some black bean and garlic sauce......buy anywhere I get the chinese one........and stir. DONE. super quick.
    can serve with rice or noodles and some veg.......mix
    all that in and you have a meal. i send it to school for lunches in their thermos' and they love it
    let me know if you try it

  19. and I never have to remove water.....buy the vacuum packed stuff

  20. I'm a strange girl and I like it straight up with a little salt.
    Or I'll slice (extra firm) up and sear it in a hot pan with a little oil until crispy on both sides. Remove drain on paper towels sprinkle with salt and enjoy.
    So yummy.

  21. Shannon (CA)11/21/2009

    Tracy is right! We eat tofu all the time and my favorite is using extra firm, drain the liquid...slice it into pieces, freeze it in a little ziplock bag (that gives it a much better texture)thennnnnn....let it thaw and marinade it in teriyaki sauce and fry it up! ahh, and then stir fry with it is amazing!

  22. nutritional yeast would make a little bit of a difference, but in addition to what everyone else has said about pressing the tofu, I'm surprised that the recipe called for olive oil. I would think you want an oil that can get hotter, like peanut oil.

    the good golden crispy bean curd you get in restaurants is probably deep fried. try doing it in a wok with a couple inches of oil in the bottom. (and no mushrooms.)

  23. Anonymous11/22/2009

    Long time lurker. Absolutely love your blog. Do you know you can get fried tofu pre-made in a package from most Chinese/Asian stores.

    Here is a link with picture and information on it. Hope it can help you.


  24. Anonymous11/22/2009

    I don't think I've ever postd, but I love your blog and tofu! Here is how I make barbecue tofu!

    First, I use extra-firm tofu. When I get home from the grocery store, I throw it in the freezer.

    The day before I want to use it, I take it out and put it in the fridge to defrost.

    When it's defrosted, I cut it into slices, wrap it in tons of of paper towels, and put in on a cutting board under some weight (a pan with cans in it). I change the paper towels a few times over about an hour.

    The tofu will be super dry now. I cut it into cubes and bake it in a 350 degree oven for fifteen minutes. It will be brown and chewy now!

    I top it with hoisin sauce or barbecue sauce and let it cook until the sauce is heated through. I serve it with green beans or whatever over rice. I love it, and my meat-eating husband loves it too!


  25. One of my favorite food blogs (he has wonderful tofu recipes!) is:
    Vegan Dad

  26. http://www.recipezaar.com/Sesame-Tofu-177242

    has always worked very well for us. Make sure to use extra firm tofu (from an Asian market if possible), and cut into reasonable size chunks. Don't skimp on the sauce.

  27. My favorite tofu recipe:

    1 block of firm tofu cut into cubes.
    1/2 cup soy sauce (I like to use "Aloha" brand, but use whatever you like). You can use less soy sauce, too.
    1/2 cup water, add to soy sauce
    3 TBS ketchup. (no, it's not a traditional dish) Mix the Ketchup up in the soy sauce and water.

    Throw the sauce and the cubed tofu into a pan and boil it to reduce the sauce. (You can't overcook tofu..or at least I never have...).

    When the sauce has reduced to be sightly thickened, remove from heat and serve. My kids like this with rice or noodles and steamed broccoli or green beans.

  28. I had to die for tofu coconut soup today at a restaurant and begged for the recipe, but they laughed in my face. :) Oh, well. I could guess at it, but I don't think it would be quite as good.

  29. Beverly11/23/2009

    I use tofu several ways:

    (1) add chunks (firm or extra firm) to a salad - delicious and super easy

    (2) add chunks (firm or extra firm) to a wrap, warm or cold - especially good in quesadilla-type wraps because it blends with the cheese and fools the palate into thinking there's more cheese than there really is

    (3) cubes (firm or extra firm) baked with oj, lemon juice, teriyaki, garlic, and ginger - stinky but delicious! see recipe at http://www.pacificsites.com/~bevjoe/recipes/recipes.html#Yummy%20Tofu

    (4) blended into smoothies - use silken tofu for this

    The other thing - when I buy tofu, I cut up the whole block right away and put it in a container in the fridge so it's easy to use. If I don't do that, it ends up sitting for months and migrating to the back of a shelf and eventually getting thrown away because I never remember to use it. :-(


  30. Firm tofu needs to be drained before frying. Just take it out of the packet, put it between two folded tea towels, set that on a cutting board, put another cutting board over it and put some cans on top. The whole contraption needs to be on top of a sink, of course. =D

    My mom makes a great fried tofu dish. She cuts the tofu into four triangles, mixes up a paste of ground pork, shrimp, a little soy sauce, sesame oil, white pepper, cooking sherry and a pinch of sugar.

    Then she slits a little pocket in the cut side of the tofu triangles and stuffs the meat mixture in. She deep fries those things but I just shallow fry them on all sides and finish them in the oven.

    They freeze really well and you can either reheat them in the oven or pop them into a pot of boiling chicken broth with some veggies and soy sauce.

  31. I'm also a lurker...love the girls and I love tofu too. You can cube up the extra firm tofu, stir fry with some garlic, soy sauce and oyster sauce. Also, cubed them up and add into soup - garlic, sesame oil, oyster sauce, soy sauce, pieces of chicken, bak choy or any kind of vegetables. If you want to pan fry tofu, dry off the excess water, coat tofu with cornflour, and no mushrooms added! :) Another thing you can also steam soft tofu - add some sesame oil, soy sauce and steam the tofu. Good luck!

  32. Well, now I cannot find the instructions online at all, but we pan fry our tofu all the time because its our favorite way to eat tofu, creamy in the middle and crispy on the outside, yum! This is basically what we use to coat our tofu, with a little less seeds, and I do it in a ziplock and shake them up. http://thaifood.about.com/od/thairecipesstepbystep/ss/deepfriedtofu_5.htm The secret is also to get the tofu really well drained! I also use a little less flour than cornstarch because if the coating gets too thick, it just falls off the tofu cubes. My girls will even eat these as leftovers in the bento boxes with a little thai peanut dipping sauce. Mmm. Think I need to go make some now! We also love tofu in soup, and lately we've been crumbling it in our stir-fry.