If you’re new to incorporating tofu in your diet, you may feel stumped when it comes to getting creative with that big, mushy white block you find at the store. Cooking with tofu usually feels pretty intimidating at first, but once you give it a couple tries you’ll want to be experimenting with it for every meal!
Let me give you a quick rundown on what you need to know to successfully cook with tofu.
The Versatility of Tofu
The cool thing about tofu is that you can do SO much with it. From scrambles, to fries to meat replacements, it’s one of the most versatile plant-based foods you can cook with. It’s important to know this because depending on what type of recipe you’re making, there are different techniques to get that tofu texture and flavor just right for each dish.
Depending on what exactly you’re making with tofu, you want to be aware of the firm-ness of the tofu. This is very important, because the level of firm-ness determines how much water was pressed out of the tofu. You’ll see at the store that you get options of silky all the way to extra-firm (some stores even carry super-firm). This is always printed in big letters on the packaging-so trust me, you won’t miss it. If you’re making a tofu scramble you’ll usually want medium tofu, whereas if you’re trying to get a crispy bite out of your tofu, you’ll definitely want firm or extra-firm.
Draining Excess Water
This was the biggest lazy-beginner mistake I made for the first several months of cooking with tofu at home. I had briefly read online that it's important to drain the excess water from the tofu in order to cook it properly, but I never really took it seriously until I started getting sick of the soggy, bland tofu I was making. Once I finally started following instructions on cooking tofu the RIGHT way by draining excess water before-hand, I realized how significant this preparation step really is.
If you are wanting a more firm or crispy final texture to your tofu, you will definitely need to drain any excess water. Some recipes require a softer, silky tofu texture. For example, for a recipe like miso soup you won't necessarily need to drain the water.
Basically, just think of draining tofu like draining potato shreds for homemade hash browns... You wont get that crispy patty just right unless you drain the excess water from the potato shreds before-hand!
Tofu: How to Avoid 5 Common Cooking Mistakes
If you've tasted plain tofu before, you know that it's not ideal to eat it straight from the package. After the step of draining the water, the next priority is usually deciding what to use for flavor! Again, this depends on the recipe, but you can do SO many different things with tofu merely based around the spices and sauces you use to cook it with. If you're new to cooking with tofu, there are endless fun and easy recipes on Pinterest and YouTube. I've got lots of tofu recipes coming up on this blog too, so I encourage you to subscribe so you don't miss any helpful recipes or tips like this! Here are some of my go-to ingredients and spices I add to most of my tofu recipes for flavor:
Pink Himalayan Salt and Pepper
I hope this quick tofu overview was helpful to you! Let me know any comments or questions you have below!!