I've been on a vegetarian diet for 10 years, and have never been able to find a way to cook tofu with a pleasant consistancy.
Not to be offensive and disgusting but whenever I make it, my husband (a meat-eater) and I joke that the texture is like brain-matter. Am I doing something wrong???
I have tried freezing and draining, but it has been a while since I have attempted and have forgetten tips I have researched previously.
I have an 11 month old baby, who I am very afraid is lactose intolerant and has a nut allergy so I would really love to learn how to cook tofu in a way that my whole family will be able to eat together. Thank you!! - P. S.
Dear P. S.,
First, tofu shouldn't be frozen, then thawed and drained. That definitely contributes to the brain matter appearance. It makes it more like meat in texture, but also dry and tasteless. Plus, it's way more work than you need to do!
1. The number one tip to cook tofu is the fresher the better. The ideal is made today by your local tofu maker - it tastes wonderful! Failing that, favor organic, get some that isn't anywhere close to it's sell-by date, and use it quickly.
2. If you need to use only part of a block of tofu, drain, rinse, and submerge what's left in fresh water, store in a sealed container in the fridge for a few days. Drain, rinse, and replace the water if you want to keep a few more days. Rinse again before using.
3. Small children will eat tofu straight up, raw, sliced, but since it's raw, it should at least be steamed, to kill bacteria, and prevent gas.
4. Use firm or extra firm tofu for most recipes. If it seems too soft, you can wrap in a dishtowel, and weight it with a brick or pan of water, or something heavy to squeeze out excess water, just for 10 - 15 minutes. Buy shrink wrap or water pack tofu. Silken tofu in the aseptic boxes is best for making miso soup, vegan desserts, smoothies, vegan mayo etc.
5. Slice the firm tofu in 1/2 or 1 inch slices, marinate for a few minutes in Braggs liquid aminos or soy sauce, then fry both sides til crispy. After that you can cut it up into pieces as needed. Kids love this, and you can toss the pieces into pasta, rice, casseroles, stir fries etc.
For more adult tastes, add spices like ginger, cumin, etc to the marinade, OR use a spicy marinade, then stir fry with veggies OR add an Indian or Oriental spiced sauce. Serve with rice or noodles.
Cut tofu in 1/2" slices, or in 1" sticks or fingers, sprinkle with soy sauce, and bake or broil, serve with a grain and vegetables or salad. If you want to get fancy, coat with fine dry bread or cracker crumbs first, or nutritional yeast. Great with catsup!
Add sliced baked, steamed, or fried tofu to any veggie dish, or sauce. It'll soak up the flavors. It goes well with stir fried greens. Especially if you throw in a few spices, like cumin, coriander, turmeric, ginger, garlic or hing.
Cooking tofu is so simple, it almost doesn't require recipes, and you'll find you can improvise a lot with the basic recipes above.
Regarding the nut allergy, babies generally don't tolerate nuts well until age 2 - 3 anyway. You may do better with nuts later on.
Judith Kingsbury, Savvy Vegetarian