How to Cook Tofu That's Tasty — Do Some Prepping First!
How to cook tofu—beloved by so many, yet detested by so many more! Which is too bad because, if you know how to cook this great product in some interesting and delicious ways, it can do a lot for your nutrition and for your mealtime pleasure as well. Besides packing roughly 10 grams of protein into a 4-ounce serving (about half a cup), tofu also tastes great—when "prepped" before adding to recipes.
For example, some people press their tofu first—compressing it into a dense (and drier) cake. In this form, the tofu can absorb more liquid from either cooking or marinating, both of which give it more taste. If I'm in a hurry, I sometimes use the EZ Tofu Press, myself, and find it works pretty well. (Saves a lot of paper towels, too.)
Or do it this way, sans press. First, cut your tofu block into three or four equal slices. Lay each slice on some paper towels or, even better, a thick, clean tea towel lying on a flat surface. Cover with another layer of towel(s) and top off with a cookie sheet. Then place a weight of some kind on the cookie sheet—a book or two, perhaps, or some heavy cans equally spaced. (But not so heavy as to squash your tofu!) Let it rest this way for 30 to 40 minutes before cooking.
Another method (and my own favorite), is "freeze-and-squeeze," which can change your entire experience of tofu. It does this by yielding a firm and somewhat spongy product, with minimal liquid remaining.
The only real downside of this little trick is the time you must factor in for freezing and thawing the block.
Freeze and Squeeze: How-to
After freezing the tofu (best done in its original package), thaw it completely. Then cut out either the bottom or one side of the package, squeezing the tofu gently over the sink. Continue squeezing until no more liquid remains.
At that point, your tofu will have a somewhat spongy texture you may find more to your taste. Moreover, it can now absorb more flavor than if it retained the original liquid.
Crumble or cut the tofu into pieces, and sauté it, braise it in a small amount of sauce, or toss it into soups or sauces as is. Any of those will give your tofu a flavor rarely achieved without some kind of pre-prep. By doing these steps beforehand and then freezing the cooked tofu, you'll have a ready supply to add to soups, salads, pastas, and other yummy vegetarian dishes. Pretty slick, no?
But—when you prepare and eat those yummy dishes, please don’t forget to floss. Alas no, not a joke: soy products tend to cling to the teeth and cause mischief. So please brush and floss after any meal containing soy. A relatively small price to pay...