Although on its own this ingredient is fairly bland, cooking tofu can transform it into a delicious, dinner-worthy dish that you can enjoy with the whole family. Tofu is basically pressed and coagulated soy milk that is cholesterol-free and contains heart-healthy protein. There are many varieties, including processed tofu and fresh tofu. East Asian and Southeast Asian cuisines often use this subtle flavored ingredient. Here are some useful tips for cooking tofu at home:
Use firm tofu
When you are cooking a weeknight dinner, use firm or extra-firm tofu that can be sliced. If it seems too soft, wrap it into a paper towel or dishtowel and press it using a book or something heavy. This way you can eliminate the excess water. Even firm tofu can contain water that makes it soft. You can also use a tofu press or buy extra-firm tofu if you want to skip the manual pressing.
Marinate the tofu
Another great tip for cooking tofu is to marinate it in spices, because it will soak up the flavor like a sponge, especially if you cut it into small pieces. Start with a simple marinade of rice wine and soy sauce, and then experiment with exotic spices such as five spice powder, ginger, garlic, curry, yuzu, sesame oil, basil, oregano and olive oil. Place it into the refrigerator for at least one hour, preferably a day or two. An easy way to marinate the tofu is to put it into zip-lock baggies, close it almost completely and then inhale the remaining air to maximize contact.
Freeze the tofu
Before cooking tofu, you can store it into the freezer over night so it gains a stronger texture. Choose a product packed in water rather than silken, and leave the package unopened. This allows it to become sponge-like and absorb a great amount of sauce. However, sauces with lots of sugar are not recommended because it will allow the sweetness to overpower the flavor you are trying to create. This method is great for a barbecued or grilled recipe also, giving it a more texture and a more comfortable chewing experience.
It is important to stay safe when cooking tofu, because in its raw form, this ingredient can contain bacteria. Before adding it to any uncooked dish, such as sandwiches or salads, make sure you steam it for 5 minutes. Silken tofu is a product that has already been pasteurized or cooked in processing and can be used straight from the box.