If you’ve ever cooked tofu before and been disappointed, then this is for you! No matter your reasons for making a meatless meal with tofu – whether you’re going vegetarian, vegan, or just want to make plant-based dinners a couple nights a week, learning how to make tofu taste good is crucial.
Because let’s face it, it doesn’t exactly look all that appealing out of the package. But then again, that’s what makes tofu such an amazing ingredient to cook with in your kitchen. It’s like a blank canvas that you can turn into a deliciously edible work of art…if you know a few tricks!
Rich in protein, vitamins, and minerals, tofu is a nutritious choice for your meals. Once you learn how to make tofu taste good, you’re going to love putting it front and center in your meals.
- Different Types of Tofu
- Tofu Recipe Ideas
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Different Types of Tofu
If you’ve never bought tofu before, you’ll most certainly want to know a bit about it first. Otherwise, you may find yourself standing in front of it in the refrigerated portion of the produce section, trying to figure out the different types of tofu.
There are a few common varieties you’ll likely find. The difference between them is how much they have been pressed, giving them different textures.
– Silken Tofu
Soft, smooth, and custard-like, silken tofu has the highest water content compared to the other styles of tofu. While you can (and should!) press other types of tofu, that won’t work with silken tofu.
This is the one used in miso soup when you go out for Japanese cuisine. It’s also great for blending into just about anything.
– Firm Tofu
Firm tofu is one of the most common styles you’ll find. The texture is much harder than silken tofu, though it is still porous and somewhat soft. It’s versatile in that you can use it for just about any style of cooking, plus it keeps a softer texture, making it ideal to soak up flavors.
– Extra Firm Tofu
Even firmer than the firm tofu style, it comes out with a dense and chewy texture. Extra firm tofu is excellent for frying and can hold together really well in any recipe.
Top Tips for Tasty Tofu
Now that you know more about the kinds of tofu you may find at the supermarket, it’s time to learn how to make it taste good!
– Press It
While you can’t press silken tofu, with firm tofu, you really need to incorporate this step before you prepare it in your meals. You may even find medium firm tofu (though that’s not always available) which will need pressing. Extra firm will come out too dry though, so you can skip it when making that type of tofu too.
You’re probably wondering what it means to press tofu. Quite simply, it’s the act of squeezing out the excess moisture. Since tofu is packed in water, it soaks that all up. You want that excess water out of the way, which will give you a better texture and flavor.
You can use a tofu press, but if you don’t have one, no biggie! You can simply cut the tofu block into cubes, put them on a chopping board, and cover with paper towels. On top of the paper towels, you’ll add something heavy, like a frying pan. Go a step further and add books or cans on top of your frying pan. Let the tofu press out for 15 to 30 minutes and then you can start cooking.
– Marinate It
Marinating tofu is another step you should take to make it taste good. Since tofu is that ultimate blank slate, you can let it marinate in all sorts of flavors from BBQ to teriyaki. Go spicy, savory, or even add a slight sweetness. Tofu has no real flavor of its own, so it’s going to soak up every bit of your marinade. At minimum, you should marinate for 30 minutes, but ideally, if you do this for 4 hours or even overnight, you’re going to get more flavorful results.
– Add Tofu to Stir-Fry
One great way to make tofu taste good is by putting it in a stir-fry. After marinating it, you can put it in with snow peas, bean sprouts, carrots, and bamboo shoots. Or go a different way with a little coconut milk and peanut butter for a Thai-style.
– Get It Crispy
Tofu is amazing when it’s fried into crispy bites. All you need is a dipping sauce to enjoy it with. You’ll coat your tofu in cornstarch or arrowroot powder and pan fry it. Once it’s golden and crispy, it’s ready. You don’t need much oil for the process and it only takes about 10 minutes. The key is in rotating the cubes so they crisp up on all sides.
The air fryer can also help you achieve crispy and delicious results. Just make sure you shake your basket at intervals to get them fully golden.
– Try Sesame Oil
You can use your favorite oil for making crispy tofu chunks. But if you want a light pan-fry, sesame oil is great. It works as a nice base for Asian-style recipes too, imparting a wonderful base flavor into your tofu.
– The Sauce is the Boss
While marinating tofu helps it have flavor, you need a sauce to cook it with. This is the difference between thinking tofu tastes meh and loving the flavors and textures you get from this versatile meatless protein.
What kind of sauces work with tofu? Again, anything you would make with your favorite vegetables and meats will work for tofu. Instead of sweet and sour pork, make sweet and sour tofu. Pair it with a creamy peanut sauce. Let it simmer into a pasta sauce. There really is no end to what you can do with tofu and sauces.
– Go Full Crumble
Extra firm tofu is great for crumbling, making it a superb meat alternative. In this way, you can add it to pasta for a meatless meat sauce. Try it in Indian or Thai curries. Add it to fried rice. These crumbled bits of tofu make any plant-based dish more robust. As long as you’re giving it flavor ahead of time, it’s going to be amazing.
– Replace Your Scrambled Eggs
Incidentally, crumbled tofu is a wonderful eggless way to make scrambled eggs for breakfast. Flavor it up and you can serve it atop toast with slices of avocado for a healthy way to start your day.
– Blend It In
When you open your package of tofu, you may think it’s a crazy idea to try to blend this stuff into sauces and soups. It’s a legitimate concern since you don’t want what you make to taste the way tofu smells out of the package. But not to worry, for you can easily ensure tofu will taste like the other flavors you incorporate.
For blending into soups, sauces, smoothies, and desserts, silken tofu is the way to go. It will lend a creamy texture similar to any dairy. That means you can create a robust cream-style sauce for pasta, add more nutrition to your mac and cheese, or even turn it into a chocolate smoothie with cacao powder for something that tastes sinful while being good for you.
– Serve It Cold
One of the best things about tofu is that you don’t need to cook it. You will still need to add flavors to it though so marinate it, then cut it into cubes. Season it with salt and drizzle with sesame oil and soy sauce. Then top with sesame seeds and green onions for a refreshing Asian-style side dish.
You can even make a macaroni salad with tofu, using it to replace a crumbled cheese like feta. As long as you’ve flavored it with marinade first and seasoned it, it’s going to taste great!
– Season It Up
For tofu to taste good, you must add flavors. So don’t be shy about coating it with anything and everything in your spice rack. The tofu will absorb all the flavors and will be absolutely delicious.
– Put Tofu in the Freezer
Tofu can be frozen first too, which will give you a better texture. You can freeze the whole block or cube it up first. Then, let it defrost. You can add it to your marinade from there and it will soak up your flavors even more. It also fries up crispier if you take the time to freeze it first.
Tofu Recipe Ideas
We’ve covered some general tips on how to make tofu taste good. Now let’s discuss some more ways to use tofu in recipes.
As mentioned, tofu needs to be marinated first to give it flavor and panache. If you just throw tofu into a recipe without taking the time to let it soak into flavors, it won’t wow you. Even if you add seasonings, it’s best described as underwhelming.
So, what kind of marinades can you use for tofu? Many people get stuck in the thought that tofu should be made in Asian recipes. And while those certainly are the common places you’ll see them in cuisine, tofu fits in everywhere.
Make a cilantro lime marinade with olive oil, lime juice, maple syrup, garlic, salt, and cilantro to use in southwestern or Mexican recipes. If you’re grilling or want a BBQ taste, you can add olive oil, BBQ sauce, minced garlic, liquid smoke, and an array of seasonings.
Put it in Italian or continental recipes with olive oil, balsamic vinegar, maple syrup, salt, and minced garlic. Or give it that teriyaki taste with freshly grated ginger, olive oil, soy sauce, rice vinegar, and maple syrup.
By now, you’re seeing a pattern with the marinades. They all have a little of sweet, sour, bitter, salty, and umami. You can use this pattern to make your tofu taste good when making your own marinades.
With soups using silken tofu, you can use soy milk or your favorite plant-based milk option to blend it to the consistency you want. About 50-50 works best to replace cream in your soup recipes. In this way, you can make healthier versions of those luscious soups you love.
If you’re just starting to get into tofu, one great way to fall in love with it is by adding it to your smoothies. You will get more protein and calcium, and blended with other ingredients, you won’t taste it at all. When making it just for yourself, you’ll only need a couple tablespoons of silken tofu added to a quarter cup of juice and a handful of fruit.
Frozen fruit will help it have more of a rich texture, though if you have fresh fruit, you can add ice too. Put in some greens to add even more nutrition and you’ll be amazed how good tofu can taste in the morning.
– Just Desserts
And finally, tofu can make an incredible dessert that only tastes guilty. Pudding is just one example where you can blend silken tofu together with chocolate and fruit for a dessert everyone will be excited to eat.
You can use a whole package of silken tofu and mix it with confectioner’s sugar (about a quarter cup should do it). Add a little vanilla extract to it too, then blend it with cocoa powder until smooth. With some banana, it’s even better, though you can play with other fruits like fresh berries or let those be the garnish. Feel free to add garnishes of shaved chocolate on top and you’ll be hard-pressed to taste the tofu in that rich pudding.
By knowing how to make tofu taste good, you’ll have countless ways to use this versatile ingredient in your kitchen. It’s a master of disguises, one that can easily be flavored to taste like meat or blended into a scrumptious desserts that will have everyone clamoring for more.