Tofu Troubles

December 8, 2011 at 8:31 pm 10 comments

Tofu – the unfortunate hallmark of vegetarian cuisine. It is usually your only protein option at many restaurants, where it is served deep-fried and smothered in sauce. I am trying to like tofu, I really am. I mean, really, what kind of self-respecting vegetarian turns their nose up at tofu? Despite all of the great tips and tricks I have read on so many other blogs, I still can’t seem to enjoy it when I make it for myself. I will shamefully admit that I like deep fried tofu in Thai curries, mostly because the crunchy outside hides the more gelatinous substance buried deep inside. If it’s not fried, I just can’t get over the texture.

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I tried pressing it between plates and a few paper towels for 15 minutes to make it firmer. Then I soaked it in a dressing of rice wine vinegar, soy sauce, and orange juice so that it wouldn’t taste like tofu. I baked it in the oven until it looked browned. I served it over brown rice with a cabbage and broccoli stir fry inspired by this beautiful salad at the Daily Garnish. It looked beautiful, with the bright purple of the cabbage and the crispy brown from the rice and tofu. The result: edible. I still can’t get into tofu! The flavors were great, and the veggies and rice are great, but the still-jiggly lumps of protein are less palatable than I was hoping.

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Maybe I didn’t press or marinate it long enough? Maybe I didn’t bake it long enough? Or maybe I am just meant to be a tofu-terrified vegetarian… Unless you can help!

Question: Have you ever made a fantastic tofu dish? Any secrets to share to help me get over my tofu texture aversion?

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10 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Leah  |  December 8, 2011 at 9:07 pm

    Tofu is delicious! I’m spoiled here in Japan living at the source of all tofu, but my tips for enjoying tofu are

    1. Freshness. If you can get it made locally, it makes all the difference. Tofu that’s a bit older has that milky funk to it. Bleh.

    2. Don’t use it like a meat sub. Use recipes that are meant to have tofu in them. There’s only one on my website that uses firm or silken tofu (I have a lot for okara, tofu by-product), but I cook tofu Japanese style: in miso soups, grilled, toasted in a pan (in a little sesame oil or with no oil), or broiled with miso paste mixed with a little mirin. I speak Japanese, so I use Japanese recipes, but there are a lot of translations and Japanese cooking website in English if you are interested. Ditto for other foods that use tofu and not as a meat sub.

    3. The toasting in a pan method works the best, because even if you don’t get all the moisture out of the tofu, you can cook it out. Then add it to stirfry!

    4. Try the website 101 Cookbooks. Heidi Swanson’s Miso Veggies recipe is amazing (http://www.101cookbooks.com/archives/miso-vegetables-tofu-recipe.html)

    Reply
    • 2. homemadeadventure  |  December 12, 2011 at 7:39 am

      Thanks for all of the great advice! I’ll definitely try out that miso soup :)

      Reply
  • 3. Rufus' Food and Spirits Guide  |  December 9, 2011 at 12:45 pm

    Wow, I can’t top the last commenter, I just wanted to say there are so many other wonderful vegetarian options. I see them all the time here.

    Reply
    • 4. homemadeadventure  |  December 12, 2011 at 7:40 am

      Even if I find tofu love, still not sure it would be part of my regular diet. Like you said, too many other great veggie options out there!

      Reply
  • 5. ceciliag  |  December 10, 2011 at 10:16 am

    I agree with leah, use it as tofu. i always place one plate upside down, set the slab of tofu on it and another plate on top then a weight, pressing the water out for about half a day or overnight, then drizzle with soy or balsamic and pan fry hot and fast, or oven cook hot and fast on a greased dish. Though i agree it is not as tasty as an animal protein. Plus i do not like the way soy farms are so destructive to the environment, and I don’t eat processed foods.. so no tofu for me i am afraid, though i do cook it for others.. c

    Reply
    • 6. homemadeadventure  |  December 12, 2011 at 7:41 am

      I try not to eat a lot of soy either, but do like it as an option once in a while. Pan frying it definitely sounds like the best option though!

      Reply
  • 7. erraffety  |  December 10, 2011 at 9:07 pm

    In my experience, you probably didn’t press it and marinate it long enough to really knock out that juice or infuse flavor. Try to do it like Cecilia mentions, either for like eight hours, or overnight, which I know is a pain, but it really picks up more flavor, and then you can just stir fry and done! In China, probably like your friend in Japan above, we’re spoiled and we can pick up freshly made tofu of many varieties at our local outdoor market. Our favorites are tofu skin, which is the edges of flat tofu sheets chopped into thin ribbon-like noodles, and then you can toss with vinegar, cilantro, cucumber, and other greens to make a salad, or dofu gan (which means dried tofu), which is brownish in color, already dried out, I think slightly smoked, and is lovely, needs no doctoring, and you can stir fry. My suggestion would be to go to your local Asian grocery store, because it will probably be cheaper, they’ll have more variety, and you can ask them for cooking suggestions. It’s taken me a long time to truly love tofu, too. My Dad absolutely hates it, and I can’t wait for when he comes to visit China. I have these visions of taking him out to eat, having him find the dish so tasty, only to tell him afterwards that he was eating tofu!! I’ll let you know how that goes.

    Reply
    • 8. Leah  |  December 11, 2011 at 8:54 pm

      Speaking of China, I’m a huge fan of “maabo doufu” (麻婆豆腐) (mapo doufu), too! I make it Japanese-style, but I would love to try the real thing some day. It usually takes ground pork in Japan, but I’ve heard of meatless versions, too.

      Reply
    • 9. homemadeadventure  |  December 12, 2011 at 7:38 am

      Hmm, I’ll try pressing and marinating it for longer next time!

      Reply
  • […] run, I finally bought some tofu and tried the recipe for myself! I followed some advice I got last time and pressed the tofu for longer than I usually do, which helped with the texture. I cut slices, […]

    Reply

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