[Alternate post title: “Tofu-How-To.” I’m hilarious.]
This week, as I made my normal rounds at Whole Foods, I rolled the buggy to the tofu area for the obligatory stop. Two ladies, apparently a mother/daughter, pulled me over to ask questions. True story.
They were trying to add soy protein to their diet, but had no idea where to start. I looked like I knew what I was doing (ha!) so they asked why I chose the product I had in hand. Poor ladies. I LOVE to talk about tofu. They might have gotten more than they bargained for.
If these two were inquisitive enough to stop a stranger, I figured they had company. In this post, I will impart my wisdom on the tofu basics. A few points to start with:
- Tofu is “soy bean curd.” Don’t tell anyone. That sounds disgusting.
- It comes in blocks, packed in water. Also kind of gross, but you’ll get past it.
- You can buy shelf stable tofu (not my favorite). This is found on the Asian aisle.
- I like the refrigerated tofu, which you’ll find beside the salad stuff in most grocery stores.
- IMHO, tofu has the texture of scrambled eggs and has basically no flavor.
- This image is my favorite brand of tofu. “Nasyoya Light Firm.” Buying “light” isn’t about the calories. The texture is better.
Now that you’ve bought your block of soy goodness, what are you going to do with it? I’ll show you my day-that-ends-in-y preparation. There are a zillion ways to prep your tofu, but we’re going basic today. Let’s get cooking.
1. Get rid of the water.
Tofu is waterlogged when you get it out of the box. Not appetizing. There are several ways to drain it. I received this spring loaded TofuXpress as a gift and it is magical, as you can see from the photos above. After three hours in the fridge, look how much water came out of the block!
However, if you’re not ready to invest in the gear quite yet, you can use the method I started with: wrap the block of tofu in paper towels or a clean kitchen towel. Put something heavy on top, like a cast iron skillet. Let it sit for a while, the longer the better. Your towels will be soaked!
2. Slice and dice.
Slice the block. Any number of sizes or shapes will work, but my favorite way to go is 8 lengthwise, then four horizontally. This yields bite size pieces that will take on just the right amount of seasoning.
3. Brown and season
Transfer your pieces to a non-stick pan, sprayed with olive oil and preheated to medium high. You want to get each side toasty, which will take a little longer than you think. Patience! Letting the tofu brown makes it taste infinitely better.
Now it’s time to season. This particular batch is sprinkled liberally with garlic salt, and has a tablespoon of balsamic vinaigrette stirred in right at the end. I’ve got tons more flavor combos, but we’ll get to that in another post.
I enjoyed this balsamic tofu over polenta, with broccoli, marinara and goat cheese.
What’s your favorite way to eat tofu? Any other tips or suggestions? Share away…