Tofu is the most popular and familiar vegetarian and vegan protein, but most people don't know how to prepare and cook it. If you're one of them, this page will walk you through all the basics; the different types of tofu, and how to choose the right one; how to prepare it so that you get the best results; and, of course, different ways to cook it.
There are different types of tofu, and each one has a distinct texture. Which one you choose will depend on how you plan to cook it.
Tofu comes packed in water. The most important step before cooking it is to remove as much water from it as possible. Here's what to do:
Now that you know about the preparation, it's time to learn how to cook tofu for the absolute best results.
How you decide to cook tofu will really depend on the recipe – if you choose to use one – or your personal taste.
This is probably the most common cooking method, and for good reason. When done right, the tofu comes out golden and crisp on the outside and creamy on the inside. (Try this easy Tofu and Mushroom Stir-Fry from bon appétite.)
Be sure to purchase a firm or extra-firm tofu. As I mentioned earlier, it’s very important to get out as much water as possible so that the tofu is dry.
You must also get the pan or wok hot before adding the tofu, and be sure to use an oil that can withstand high temperatures without smoking, such as coconut oil.
To learn more about this technique, read the excellent article from Serious Eats, How to Cook Crispy Tofu Worth Eating.
If you prefer to bake your proteins, a firm tofu holds up well in the oven.
Start by preheating your oven to between 350 and 400 degrees fahrenheit (depending on the recipe). Prepare a marinade (if you're using one). Place the pieces of tofu on a baking sheet and brush one side with the marinade of your choice. Bake for 30 minutes, then turn and brush with the remaining marinade. Continue baking until crisp, approximately 30 minutes.
Another option is to marinate the tofu in the refrigerator for 30 minutes before baking.
Of course, marinading the tofu is optional. If you plan to stir-fry the tofu after baking it, don't marinate it.
There are no hard and fast rules here. Experiment and see what you like best.
Just a quick note of caution: tofu should only be eaten infrequently and sparingly, as there are some health issues with unfermented soy.
Use these flavor and protein swaps to revamp, or vegetarianize, almost any recipe.
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