If tofu isn’t already a regular part of your meal rotation, you may not realize that it is actually a blank slate, ready to soak up flavours. It provides a ton of room for creativity in the kitchen and can be cooked many different ways – you just need to know a few things about the art of cooking tofu in order to maximize its potential. If you’re not aware of common mistakes people make when cooking tofu, you’re a lot more likely to throw in the towel on this versatile vegetarian dish. Let’s take a look at the 3 biggest mistakes people make when cooking tofu, so you can make sure that you’re maximizing its potential.
Buying The Wrong Kind
You may have noticed when you’ve gone to buy tofu that it comes in a variety of textures and densities. If you buy that wrong kind for your particular recipe, odds are, it’s going to be a flop. For example, you’re going to want to stay away from both soft and firm silken tofus if you want the tofu to maintain its shape. Instead, you can use silken tofu as an addition to sauces, dressings and smoothies to make them extra creamy.
Hazel Wheaton from Taste of Home explains what you can do with other commonly seen types of tofu:
“The more well-known block tofus are sold in firm squares that resemble feta cheese. Soft, medium, firm and extra-firm tofu, as their names suggest, are progressively more solid. Extra-firm is best for frying, sautéing or grilling. Medium-firm can be used for stir-frying, but may crumble a bit; but it’s great for baking or (intentional) crumbling. When in doubt, go for the firm or extra-firm tofu when cooking savory recipes like Vegetable Pad Thai or Crispy Tofu with Black Pepper Sauce.”
Not Pressing the Water Out of the Tofu
We’ll admit it – nobody actually enjoys this step. But unfortunately, it’s one that needs to be done and is commonly overlooked. Tofu is filled with water, which strongly interferes with flavor.
Rhea Parsons of One Green Planet tells us how to make sure you’ve extracted all of the water out of your tofu:
“For me, this is the step that I most want to avoid but if I do, I’m not going to have the best tofu dish. Tofu is packed with water, and then it is packed in water. We need to get that water out and replace it with flavor. Not pressing the water out of the tofu is one of the biggest mistakes you can make. Open the package and drain the water. Then you have to press the tofu. The only time I get lazy about this is when I make tofu scrambles and even then, I squeeze the tofu in my hands to get out some excess water.”
Not Marinating the Tofu
Many of those who are new to cooking with tofu don’t actually realize that it’s supposed to be flavorful, and is able to soak up a marriage of flavors. There are several ways to marinade your tofu, as well as several ways you can ensure that your tofu is soaking up the maximum amount of flavor.
Louisa Clements of Chatelaine Kitchen tells us more on how and why to marinate your tofu:
“Tofu has an incredible ability to soak up flavours like a sponge, this is why marinating is one of the best ways to impart bold taste. When it comes to marinating tofu, opt for acidic marinades that use ingredients like garlic, ginger, vinegar and soy sauce (avoid adding oil to a tofu marinade). Opt for either firm or extra-firm tofu that has been cut it into cubes, as this will allow for maximum flavour absorption. Keep in mind that tofu takes on flavour more quickly than meat, so a quick 15 to 30 minute marinating time is often enough.”
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