This series is now complete. If you want to read the other posts, you can find them here:
Yes, you heard me right. Vegan that I am, I can admit it. Sometimes, tofu sucks, especially if you are not used to eating it. And there’s two very good reasons why tofu out of the package can suck:
- It’s flavor (it has a very subtle soy bean/water flavor)
- It’s texture (it’s mushy)
Still, making good tofu is within reach of everyone, even those who don’t think they like it. But it’s going to take some work and maybe a bit of practice.
This post will begin a series on how to make better tofu. Tonight I want to address the prework that should go into any tofu preparation. If you are a big tofu eater and cook it all the time, these steps will probably sound very basic. However, what I have noticed is that there are a large number of open-minded eaters who refuse to eat tofu because of either #1 or #2 (or both) from the list above.
There is hope. Once a cook masters these critical precepts, she will be ready for further tofu enlightenment which I shall supply in forthcoming posts.
Precept 1: Beware the soft tofu
Silken tofu has a number of homes: flourless tofu cakes, tofu smoothies, tofu cannoli mix (it’s coming, I promise.) However, if tofu is going to be the main protein or be prevalent in the dish, avoid silken tofu unless your eaters are VERY accustomed to it. I eat a lot of tofu and I still can’t get over the way silken tofu squishes in my mouth.
The answer: unless you know your eaters well, get extra firm tofu. It will be close to something most people expect.
Precept 2: If you ain’t frying, get to saucing
Tofu by itself is not what most poeple call “good.” That’s why you have to think about really bold sauces. My personal favorite is a mixture of sriracha and chili garlic sauce (some people call it Chinese ketchup, but it’s basically a little chili and a lot of corn syrup.) Other favorites include chili oil, soy, and oriental mustard, soy and honey, and barbecue sauce.
If you are deep frying the tofu, sauce matters less as long as the tofu is breaded with something that will bring a little flavor to the party. Still, having a little rice wine vinegar/soy dipping sauce cannot hurt. Or like me, go with the soy, chili oil, and oriental mustard. I love that stuff.
Precept 3: The Press
Once you have the extra firm tofu, you need to get the water out of it. To do this:
- Take the tofu out of the package and drain
- Wrap it in a clean towl (not paper towels)
- Set a cookie sheet on top of the tofu
- Put several cans of something on top of the tofu
- Come back in an hour
If you master this techique, even though it takes time, you tofu will be better for it.
So, anyone have any good tofu sauces to share?