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Cooking with Tofu: How to Make it One of Your Food Staples

Feb 2, 2011

Cooking with tofu may seem like a daunting task, and you may wonder if it’s just too much trouble to bother. It is actually very easy to cook with tofu, and it can bring a new dimension to your diet. Tofu is made by pressing the curds of coagulated soy milk. It has become a staple for vegetarians because it is rich in protein and low in fat and calories. Tofu does not have much of a flavor of its own, but it easily absorbs the flavors of the foods that it is cooked with. Here are some tips to help you create wonderful tofu dishes.

Choosing Tofu

Fresh tofu is often the best choice because it does not contain preservatives. It also has a more reliable texture than vacuum-packed tofu. You must then decide if you need soft or firm tofu. Soft tofu, also called silken tofu, has more moisture and does not retain its shape. It is often used for creamy dishes or dressings. Firm tofu has less moisture and keeps its shape while cooking. It is used for frying, baking and grilling, and it is the type of tofu typically used to replace meat.

Preparing Tofu for Cooking

In many recipes using firm tofu, you must first drain and remove any excess moisture. This allows the tofu to absorb more of the flavors of the foods with which it will be mixed. Set the tofu on a few cloths that have been placed on a plate. Remove any excess moisture off of the top of the tofu with a tea towel. Then use a fresh towel to cover the block of tofu. Place a plate on the top, and put a heavy object, such as a book, on the plate. Allow the tofu to be pressed for 15 to 20 minutes. The texture may change slightly as the moisture is removed.

Cooking With Tofu

Keep in mind that a little bit of tofu can go a long way. Use moderate amounts to get the best results. It is best to cook tofu before adding it to a dish. For example, sauté the tofu before you add it to the vegetables in a stir-fry. This will help to protect the texture and consistency of the tofu. For an extra boost of flavor, marinate the tofu for a few minutes before cooking. When you fry tofu, sprinkle it with nutritional yeast to get a crispy crust.

Storing Tofu

Uncooked tofu should be kept in the refrigerator. If you are using only a partial brick of tofu, store the unused portion in ice-cold water. It will stay fresh for a few days. Store your tofu dishes in airtight containers in the refrigerator. Reheat them as you would other leftovers. Tofu can also be frozen, but this will change the texture.

When tofu is properly prepared, it can add a wonderful new element to your dishes. You may find yourself enjoying creamy tofu with berries or fried tofu nuggets. This versatile ingredient will soon become a staple in your diet.

 

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