Cooking Tofu for Dummies
Whether you are new to vegetarianism or you just want to impress a vegetarian loved one, you may find the idea of cooking that tasteless, white square block that seems to be a staple in vegetarian diets rather intimidating. People oftentimes ask, “How do you cook tofu?” “How do you make it taste like anything?” Well, it’s actually not that difficult. After reading and following the steps below, you will be on your way to cooking good tofu that can be easily used in a stir-fry, an Asian-style rice or pasta dish, or a salad.
This is how to cook tofu:
Step 1: Buy a package of tofu (of course!). Make sure that the package says that it is either firm or very firm tofu.
Step 2: Once you are ready to prepare the tofu, open the package, drain all the water from it and take out the tofu.
Step 3: With some paper towels, wrap the block of tofu and gently squeeze as much water from it as possible without altering its shape. Once you’ve squeezed out most of the water (this is important because it won’t cook as well if it’s water-logged) unwrap the tofu from the towels.
Step 4: On a cutting board, slice the tofu into cubes the size of your choice. Set aside.
Step 5: Put vegetable oil enough to cover the surface in a skillet, and put the skillet on medium-high.
Step 6: Add 2 to 3 tablespoons of soy sauce or Braggs Liquid Amino Acids (much less sodium) to the skillet. These sauces are essential to the tofu cooking process, because it is what helps brown the tofu and give it a “skin.”
Step 7: Add the tofu when the skillet heats but before it gets too hot. Be careful not to splash oil on yourself.
Step 8: Allow the tofu to cook on all sides, or at least two sides if you’re pressed for time. You will let the tofu fry in the skillet on each side for at least about 5 minutes. You want to check the side that’s cooking to see if it has browned. If it hasn’t browned after about 8 minutes, you may want to add more soy sauce or Braggs Liquid Amino Acids. Because they are dark in color, not to mention very flavorful, you want to use these sauces to brown the tofu or to give it a “skin,” and to give the tofu some flavor. Using either one of these when cooking, along with a moderate amount of oil, should at least allow your tofu to brown on its sides, if not give it a skin, which will also give the tofu a chewier texture. While cooking, make sure that the tofu does not stick to the skillet by using your spatula to lift the cubes occasionally. You can also check the “browning” process by flipping the tofu cubes on a side that hasn’t browned with a spatula. If the tofu has browned or formed a skin, use the spatula to turn it to a side that needs browning.
When all the sides of tofu (or how ever many you desire or have the patience for) have cooked to your satisfaction, you can add fresh vegetables or a frozen package of stir-fry ready vegetables to the skillet to cook along with the tofu, or you can cook the two separately.
When the tofu is done, you can also pour some Asian sauce over it, depending on what you’re cooking, and let it cook in that sauce for a while to absorb additional flavor. Use the tofu like you would chicken, beef or pork in your dishes, except you may want to add more seasoning to tofu. On a bed of rice, Asian noodles or salad, add the tofu to your favorite vegetables and you’ve got yourself a tasty vegetarian entree with tofu–good tofu. Hopefully, you now know how to cook tofu!