If you are looking at cooking with tofu for the first time, you’ll be happy to know that tofu carries a wide range of possibilities for all kinds of delicious dishes.
Unlike other forms of protein such as fish or meat, you can use tofu in stir-fries, casseroles, and burgers and desserts, or snacks like smoothies and puddings. As tofu on its own doesn’t have much flavor, it adds protein to your dishes without impacting the taste of the other ingredients.
Let’s look at the different types of tofu and how and where you can use them.
Silken tofu is the softest form of tofu and is perfect for blended dishes. Pasta sauces, salad dressings, dips, puddings, and smoothies are just some of the treats you can make with this type of tofu.
For a quick chocolate pudding, you can blend 12 ounces of silken tofu with 3/4 cup cocoa powder, 1/2 cup of sugar, and 1/3 cup of your favorite plant-based milk.
For some vegan cream cheese, press the excess water out of 8 ounces of silken tofu with a Tofubud or other tofu press. Then whisk it with 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast, 1 teaspoon lemon juice or apple cider vinegar, and a teaspoon of salt. Done!
Firm tofu is perfect for tofu scrambles (the vegan answer to scrambled eggs) and stir-fries. Drain your tofu to eliminate any excess water (this helps your tofu soak up the flavors of spices and sauces). Then crumble it with your hands and fry it as you would eggs, with some onions and spices in a skillet with some oil.
You can also make tofu burgers with crumbled tofu: for one container of crumbled tofu, mix in 2 tablespoons flour, 2 tablespoons ground flaxseed, 2 tablespoons soy sauce, and 2 teaspoons garlic powder. Press into burger shapes, and fry in oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Done!
Marinated tofu is a delicious addition to stir-fries and casseroles.
To marinate one 16-ounce block of tofu, press out the excess water and then cut it into cubes. Mix a marinade as follows:
- 4 tablespoons soy sauce
- 3 tablespoons rice vinegar
- 1 tablespoon maple syrup or brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon sesame oil
- 2 minced or pressed garlic cloves
- 1 tablespoon of freshly grated ginger
Let the cubed tofu marinate in this mixture in a covered container in the refrigerator for at least one hour, or if you can, overnight.
Then heat 2 or 3 tablespoons of vegetable oil in a skillet and fry your tofu till crispy.
Note: If you want to create extra-crispy tofu, try coating the marinated cubes in cornstarch just before frying them.
You can enjoy your marinated tofu in stir-fries, on top of salads, or in sandwiches. There are so many options for tofu dishes!
Extra-firm tofu is also suitable for stir-fries, and it lends itself well to baking and grilling. The main difference between firm and extra-firm tofu is that extra-firm tofu will provide you with a chewy texture closer to meat. However, extra-firm tofu will not absorb as many flavors as firm tofu since it is much denser. Ideally, you will want to add sauce to your extra-firm tofu after it is baked, rather than try to marinate it first.
Crispy baked tofu is perfect to top a veggie dish or stew. To make crispy baked tofu:
Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and squeeze out the excess water from one 15-ounce block of extra-firm tofu while the oven heats up.
Cube your drained tofu and put it in a large mixing bowl with one tablespoon of tamari or soy sauce and one tablespoon of olive oil. Toss the cubes well, and then sprinkle one tablespoon of cornstarch (or arrowroot powder) over the cubes. Make sure all the cubes are evenly coated and that there are no bare spots.
Spread out the tofu cubes evenly on your baking sheet, and bake for 25 to 30 minutes, turning your cubes over halfway through so that they brown evenly.
If you want to add other dipping sauces to your tofu, do that after you bake it. You may enjoy eating it on its own, however. It will be crispy on the outside and soft on the inside.
There you have it, many uses for many types of tofu! You are only limited by your imagination!