How to make tofu taste good

Preparing flavorful tofu-based meals has never been easier. Learn how to choose, season, and cook tofu to give it the consistency of meat.

Benefits of tofu

Tofu is a wildly versatile base for recipes. It first appeared in China over 2,000 years ago and is now used in millions of flavorful nutritious recipes around the world. One of tofu’s most popular roles is as a meat substitute. Evidence suggests that tofu consumption vs. meat consumption leads to less coronary heart disease, breast cancer, and prostate cancer. Soy also helps reduce hot flashes and other menopausal symptoms. However, even with all of these benefits, one problem remains: taste. Tofu doesn’t taste as good as meat! Or does it? Here we will discuss some techniques to choose and prepare tofu so well, you won’t notice it's not meat.

How tofu is created

Tofu is made from condensed soy milk that coagulates into curds, much like cheese. The curds are pressed into white blocks that are silken, soft, firm, extra firm, or super firm. Depending on what recipe you are using, different types of tofu can create different effects. For example, silken tofu is often covered in sweetener and eaten for dessert, while extra firm tofu is seasoned and substituted for meat. Knowing which type of tofu is best for your dish will help ensure the texture is perfect. 

Picking and preparing tofu

When picking out tofu at the store it is important to purchase white, fresh-smelling tofu (preferably organic) because this will taste the best in recipes. Western culture tends to promote smushing the water out of the tofu, but traditionally this is not a step in tofu preparation. Instead, to make the tofu take on a meaty texture, stick it in the freezer. Frozen tofu might discolor a bit but it will more readily absorb the flavors and become chewier. Cookbook Co-host, Marianne, recommends freezing it, unthawing it, then freezing it again for the ultimate secret meat substitute. Marianne’s tofu chicken nuggets use this technique, and speak for themselves. 

Once the tofu is thawed a second time, it’s time to marinate. Let the tofu soak in seasonings and marinades for a while because the longer it marinates the more flavorful the final dish will be. After a few hours soaking the tofu, grill, boil, broil, fry, bake, or even eat it raw! Any leftovers can be stored in the fridge from three to five days. 

Tofu-based recipes

Due to its minimal flavor, tofu is an ingredient in recipes across the board. Some favorites include General Tso tofu, tofu tacos, a dessert, crispy tofu, and curry. Explore plant-based recipes by GetSetUp Learners, and submit some of your own tofu creations to the Cookbook Project!

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