Hi everyone, I’m so excited to have my little sister guest posting about The Wonderful World of Tofu on Tried & True today! She is an absolute wiz in the kitchen and by some sort of divine luck, I live close enough to her to try out most of her healthy creations. Please give her a warm welcome because she’s going to be a regular face around here! Yaaaaay!
I have a confession, it took me over 4 years after becoming a vegetarian to even attempt to cook tofu. I couldn’t get past the soft and soggy texture of tofu and it presented too much of a challenge for me. It wasn’t until my talented and longtime vegetarian sister clued me in on some tricks of the trade when cooking with tofu. Today is your lucky day, you get to have a little of her wisdom too. Lets start with the two most common types of tofu and what they are best used for.
Silken Tofu: It’s soft, smooth and creamy in texture. Best for blended foods to add a creamy base, it can be used for salad dressings, smoothies, puddings and soups. Silken tofu comes in three different types of firmness soft, firm and extra firm. There really isn’t much of a difference between the three textures so go ahead an interchange them and use whichever texture you have on hand. As for tricks of the trade all I can give you is blend, blend, blend!
Regular Tofu: Regular tofu has a much firmer texture than silken tofu and has the ability to hold its shape when handled carefully. Its best used for stir-fry’s, crispy tofu dishes and scrambles. Regular tofu also comes in the three different textures, soft, firm and extra firm. The firmer the tofu the less moisture it will retain and takes on a chewier texture.
Tricks of the trade
If you’re like me, you like your tofu extra-extra firm! Here are two tricks to get that tofu of yours as firm as can be.
- Once you bring your beloved tofu home, tuck it away in the freezer and forget about it. Freezing tofu changes the moisture content and results in a chewier texture. Plus it enhances its ability to soak in marinades quicker. Once the tofu is frozen, you can transfer it to the refrigerator and let it thaw out prior to cooking with it. If you’re in a hurry thaw the tofu in hot water or in the oven.
- Ah, press it, press it really good …(couldn’t help myself, you’ll get the reference to Salt N’ Pepper later in th post). Okay so your tofu is thawed and removed from the package. You will notice there is a whole lot of liquid. Drain the liquid and place it between to plates, heavier one on top, to squeeze out as much of the liquid as possible.
That’s it, your tofu is prepped and ready for cooking. It’s best to cook tofu on a seasoned cast iron skillet or nonstick pan with oil, I like to use sesame or olive oil. Baking tofu is also another great option. To bake tofu just slice the tofu in strips place on an oiled baking sheet and brush the top of the tofu with oil.
The number one tofu cooking mystery for me was how do I get that restaurant quality crispy tofu without having to cook it in oil forever! Well, it’s nothing too mysterious; most restaurants coat the tofu in a starch then fry it to get that golden crispy outside. Instead of reaching for that cornstarch which has very little health benefits grab the tapioca flour. Tapioca is starchy, slightly sweet and acts as grain-free alternative for crispy tofu.
I now leave you with my all time favorite tofu dish, Crispy Salt and Pepper Tofu (there’s that reference, hee hee), and welcome you to the wonderful world of tofu!
Crispy Salt & Pepper Tofu
- 1 package of extra firm tofu freezed, thawed and pressed
- 1 tsp sea salt
- 1/2 tsp pepper
- 1/4 cup tapioca flour
- 2 tbls sesame oil
- Additional toppings include cabbage carrots and a jalapeño
- Cut the tofu into one-inch cubes and set aside for the fresh cut sides to dry out.
- In a large bowl combine the tapioca flour, sea salt and pepper.
- Once the tofu is dry and has very little moisture, toss it in the tapioca flour mixture to achieve a light coating.
- Add the sesame oil to a seasoned cast iron skillet or non-stick pan over medium heat.
- Gently add the tofu to the skillet.
- Turn the tofu as needed to obtain a nice golden color on all sides.
- Add more oil after turning the tofu for a crispier texture. (optional)
- Serve with thinly sliced cabbage, shredded carrots and pan roasted sliced jalapeños for some extra heat.