Tofu two ways

Perhaps you’ve never cooked with tofu before and you look at the square white mass in the carton and can’t figure out the best way to prepare it.

…Or maybe you’ve cooked with tofu, but are looking for more tasty, easy ways to use it.

I love tofu not only because it’s a delicious, healthy, plant-based protein, but also because it’s so versatile. Even if you are not a strict vegetarian, adding tofu to your diet can help you diversify your protein sources.

The following two preparation methods start out the same and can be used in many different dishes (Did I mention that I love tofu’s versatility?). So go ahead and experiment and feel free to post your dish suggestions in the comments section.

Buying Guide: If you’ve never cooked with it before, you might find the tofu options in the store over whelming.  Which is better, soft or firm or extra firm?  Is it essential to buy organic, or is conventional tofu okay? Don’t worry, it’s really just a personal preference.  The firmness is an indication of how much water is in the tofu.  If you are making Miso soup, for instance, having soft tofu works because you want it to almost melt in your mouth and it’s going to be submerged in the soup so if you used firm, it would probably absorb some of the surrounding liquid and become softer after a bit anyway.  When I’m using tofu for other dishes such as stir fry or if I’m grilling with it, I prefer extra firm (or vacuum packed extra firm if your store carries it) simply because you don’t have to worry about getting as much moisture out and firm tofu will hold together better during the cooking process.  As for organic vs. non-organic tofu, the decision is entirely yours– if you would buy organic soy beans, you will probably want to opt for the organic tofu.  Try a few different brands and very quickly you will find the brand and firmness that suites your personal tastes.

Un-Fried Crispy Tofu

1. Take one block of extra-firm tofu and drain the water.  Put one towel or paper towel on a plate, place the tofu on the towel and top with another towel and a second plate.

2. Place something with  a little weight (like a large can of tomatoes or jar of food) on top of the second plate and put tofu in the fridge for at least an hour and up to 12 hours.

3. Remove towels and discard.  Cut tofu block in two creating two “filets”.  Then, cut tofu into squares taking care to make squares approximately the same size.

 

 

 

 

 

 

4. Pour a small amount of cornstarch into a plastic bag or container with a tight-fitting lid.  Add the tofu, close tightly and shake container to coat each piece of tofu with cornstarch.

5. Heat skillet (I prefer cast iron or non-stick) over medium heat.  Add a small amount of oil to the skillet (it should only take a teaspoon or two if your skillet is non-stick or a well-seasoned cast iron pan).  Shake excess cornstarch off of tofu and place cubes in a single layer in the skillet.

6. After a few minutes, or when tofu has bubbled and is golden-brown, turn each piece over.  Continue cooking until 4 sides have browned.

7.  Add seasonings to fit the recipe you are using the tofu in or set aside until accompanying  dishes are ready.

Note: Although the crispy tofu pieces will last in the fridge, they will not maintain their “crunchiness”.

Dry-Fried Healthy Tofu

1. Follow steps 1-3 of the above preparation method, but feel free to play around with the shape/size of the tofu pieces (I prefer small triangles for this method).

2.Place large non-stick or cast iron skillet over very low heat.  Add tofu to dry skillet (NO OIL) in a single layer.

3. As it cooks, the moisture in the tofu will evaporate and you may hear some sizzling in the pan.

4. Occasionally press pieces gently with a flat spatula to help squeeze out extra moisture trapped in the tofu.

5. After one side has browned (about 7-10 minutes), flip the pieces over and continue to cook until other side has browned (approximately an additional 5-7 minutes).

6. Your dry-fried tofu is now ready to be added to whatever dish or sandwich you are making. If you aren’t using the tofu immediately, place in a tightly covered container and store in the fridge.

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