Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Dishing the Truth about Tofu

Invariably, I see images like the one below on a regular basis. While not always the same, they're very similar in message: "Tofu sucks!" 




Well, I'm here to tell you it doesn't. Have you ever taken a piece of chicken, cooked it plain, and then eaten it? Probably not, but if you ever have I can tell you that it sucks. How about hamburger? You ever just cooked up some hamburger meat and eaten it plain? I can bet your answer is no. Why? Because the truth is, cooked foods need to be seasoned and cooked properly in order to taste good. When omni people see a block of tofu, they see a square white blob and think, "No way!" I bet they never picked out some chicken breasts and said, "I'm going to take these home and broil them just like they are and eat them! Yum!" It was probably more like, "I'm going to marinate these in a bit of oil, marinade dressing, and/or seasoning, etc., and grill them!" or something similar. That's how you make it taste good. Guess what? The same applies to tofu!

The great thing about tofu, like chicken for you ominvores, is that it is a blank slate. You can do a million things with it, but unlike chicken, it can substitute for so many protein items. Let me show you a few examples of dishes I've cooked recently with tofu.




Here we have a delicious meal of braised brussel sprouts, roasted potato wedges, and a slice of crispy fried tofu slathered in BBQ sauce. 




Here we have the makings of a delicious 'egg', 'bacon', and 'cheese' breakfast sandwich. I dredged and fried up some pressed tofu slices in a mixture of cornstarch, rice flour, and seasonings. The bacon was also homemade out of tempeh. 




Here was a delicious sweet Thai chile stir-fry I made out of pieces of tofu that were dredged and fried beforehand, combined with vegetables & cashews, and covered in a spicy-sweet Thai chile sauce. 



Here are some tofu nuggets. They were marinated, dredged, baked until crispy, and served with a side of sweet potato fries and some sweet & sour sauce for dipping.

These are just a few examples of deliciousness I've cooked up within the past few months. How you might ask? Here's the easiest, quickest way.


1. The first thing you need to do is press your tofu to get out the excess moisture. I lay a towel on a plate, put the block of tofu on it, cover it with another towel, put another plate on top of that, and then stack a bunch of cans from my pantry on it. It only takes about 15-30 minutes to get the tofu ready for the next step.

2. What are you wanting to make? What you make determines the size of the pieces and how you will cut it. Take cues from my pics above for an idea. Cut it up as desired.

3. Make a dredge mixture of cornstarch/flour/or cornstarch & flour, and your desired seasonings. Coat the tofu pieces evenly on all sides and either fry or bake until crispy on the outside. 

4. It's now ready to dip, coat, slather, and devour.


Tofu is not just for dredging and frying, but it is an easy, tasty way to eat it. Tofu can also be frozen, thawed, and then pressed. Frozen tofu has a tendency to soak up marinades so you can press, cut, marinade, and then cook your preferred method.  One good idea is to marinade in smoky, salty type liquid (liquid smoke, soy sauce, garlic powder, and some oil) and bake until it is "smoked". Tofu can also be easily grilled. A quick internet search or a visit to your favorite recipe site (Yummly on your phone is fantastic) will yield some great recipes! 

Don't be scared of the tofu! It's much better than you think, so give it a try. You won't be disappointed!


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