Tofu is a polarizing food. Between people who are anti-soy and people who are convinced that tofu’s only good for hippies, it’s not exactly the most popular kid on the playground.
The first good tofu I had was made by my then-girlfriend’s dad. Thank heavens for social conventions. If I hadn’t been so polite, I would’ve never known how good tofu could taste. Since then I’ve been on a mission to make tofu as good as his and in the past three years, I’ve developed a fail-proof method.
Before we get started, let’s talk about a few quick tips. Although there are different types of tofu, I start out with a firm or extra firm block. Also, tofu is more protein-dense than most meats, so it shouldn’t be substituted 1:1 if you’re turning a recipe meatless.
Tofu For Everyone
- Cut the tofu. Because perfect little squares can be unappetizing, I tend to go for triangles. First turn the tofu block on its side and cut it into three slices. Then turn it back so it’s sitting on the biggest side and cut cubes. Finally, cut diagonally so that you end up with a bunch of little triangular prisms.
- Freeze those babies. Freezing tofu is the magic step that transforms kinda gross bean curd to delicious, chewy protein. When you freeze it, all the excess water turns to ice, causing the tofu to get much denser and drier than any amount of pressing could. Dry tofu is important if you want to marinate it. Think of it like a sponge: a soaked sponge can’t absorb anything else but a wrung-out sponge works just fine.
- Once the tofu’s all frozen, you can pull it out of the freezer. It might be kind of yellow; if it is, don’t worry. You can either thaw and marinate it, or shake it to break the pieces up and use it right away. Because I don’t each a whole block very quickly, I usually keep it in the freezer and cook it right away.
- To cook it straight out of the freezer, put as much as you want in a pan on medium. Don’t add any oil because it’ll just get angry with the ice crystals and spit hot steam at you. Cook the tofu plain until all the ice melts away and any pieces that were stuck together come unstuck.
- Add a little bit of oil (I usually go for olive oil or sesame) and whatever spices you want to cook it with. If I want something really simple, I’ll just add a little bit of pepper and garlic.
- Once the tofu’s all fried up and dark around the edges, you can add it to whatever else you’re making.