If you’re tofu-curious but haven’t yet taken the leap to try it, you may have a lot of questions. For example, what does tofu taste like? In fact, you may even feel a little intimidated by the idea of trying to cook with it. Today’s post will answer a lot of your tofu questions and get you cooking with tofu like a pro.
Some people look at tofu as international cuisine or health nut food. However, there are several advantages to adding tofu to your diet. It’s a high-protein, plant-based ingredient that you can use to substitute for meat products in your day-to-day diet.
In fact, if you have people in your family who are picky eaters, the texture and flavor of tofu should be right up their alley! So, let’s talk about some of the roadblocks to adding more tofu to your diet, starting with flavor.
What Does Tofu Taste Like?
I can sing the praises of tofu all I want, but in the end, I know you have one basic question: does tofu taste good. Well, interestingly enough, tofu straight out of the container has a bland, mild flavor. That doesn’t sound enticing, of course, but it is a good thing because it allows you to add the flavors you want.
Because tofu is very absorbent, the finished tofu tastes like the flavors it was cooked with. So, add a flavorful, garlicky marinade to tofu, and it will take on the garlicky marinade flavor.
What is Tofu?
Tofu is made from soybeans that are combined with water. The fibrous parts of the beans are mostly strained and the remaining milky substance is then cooked with minerals that help form curds. This is very similar to how cheese is made. With tofu, the curds are pressed together to form blocks of varying levels of firmness.
Can You Eat Raw Tofu?
You can eat tofu straight from the container, but I don’t recommend it. That’s because the flavor is fairly bland. That said, I make recipes that add seasoning to plain, uncooked tofu, such as a vegan tofu salad (which very much resembles egg salad).
Is Tofu Healthy?
Because most of the bulk of the soybeans are strained in the production process, tofu is a relatively low calorie, high protein, and low carb product. Of course, it’s also relatively low in fiber. However, tofu is also fairly low in fat as well, but, many tofu cooking methods involve adding some fat.
What Are the Different Types of Tofu?
Another important question when it comes to eating something new is the texture. There are several tofu textures available in most stores. Describing the texture of tofu requires breaking it down a little.
- Extra Firm Tofu — This is plain tofu that you can buy in the produce section of many stores. It’s a go-to option for most people when it comes to tofu. It is packed in water and therefore needs to be pressed before cooking it, and we’ll go into that in a bit.
- Flavored Tofu — Some brands have pre-marinated tofu. This tofu has already been pressed and it’s ready to add to your favorite recipes. I can usually find flavored tofus in health food stores like Sprouts and Natural Grocers.
- Soft Tofu — You can also buy soft tofus, otherwise known as silken tofu. These are great for whipping and adding to desserts in place of eggs.
Learn more about how to buy tofu here.
Can You Freeze Tofu?
If you freeze extra firm tofu in its container, you will be left with spongy tofu. That may be preferable for some recipes, but I don’t tend to like the spongy texture. However, I’ve found that if you press the tofu first, you can freeze it without much change in texture.
For example, I make and freeze my vegan breakfast burritos and the texture of the tofu stays consistent after reheating.
Does Tofu Go Bad?
Extra-firm and firm tofu should be stored in the fridge. When unopened, it can last for several months in the fridge. However, once opened, it should be prepared within 3–5 days.
Silken tofu oftentimes comes in an aseptic packaging that does not require refrigeration. It will usually keep for several months, but similar to firm tofu, once opened, it should be refrigerated and used within 3–5 days.
Cooking with Tofu
if you’re new to plant-based cooking, working with tofu may seem a little awkward at first, but trust me, it’s a short learning curve. Next thing you know, you’ll be a pro!
Here are some of the reasons I love cooking with tofu:
No additional cooking is required, so you don’t have to be worried from a food safety perspective if your protein is undercooked
Once you have a few tasty marinades or seasonings, you’ll love the flavor and texture tofu adds
If you’re making a dish like vegan tofu salad, it’s actually way easier than making a typical egg salad recipe, because there’s no cooking the eggs!
How to Press Tofu
Most firm and extra-firm tofu blocks need to be pressed. That’s because they come packed in water. There are two ways to press tofu to prepare it for cooking:
Manual — Wrap the tofu in a kitchen towel or several paper towels. Place that on a plate and add something heavy over the top of the tofu. I like using a heavy pan, or a plate with a can of beans on top. You can also stand over the sink and press the tofu in the towel. You’ll be surprised how much liquid you can get out of the tofu!
Tofu Press — I bought a tofu press a few years ago and it’s one of my favorite kitchen gadgets! It’s so easy to throw a block of tofu in the press and let it start pressing early in the day. That way it’s ready for cooking in no time!
Is Tofu Vegan?
Tofu is made from soybeans and, thus, is a great plant-based, vegan protein option. Many vegetarians and vegans use tofu in a variety of vegan dishes, from lasagnas to soups, over noodles, and more.
Whether you’re vegan or not, or simply wishing to reduce animal protein in your diet, tofu is a great addition to your meal plans.
Tofu Main Meal Recipes
Making tofu taste good involves pressing tofu and adding the right flavorings. Here are some great tofu recipes for main meals, including breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
Vegan Sesame Tofu
Crispy Orange Tofu
Veggie Lettuce Wraps
Vegan Breakfast Burrito
Vegan Potato Salad
Tofu for Dessert Recipes
Your first thought about tofu might be as a main meal. However, there are plenty of ways to use tofu for dessert recipes. It adds a silky, smooth texture to puddings, fillings, and more! Here are some favorite tofu dessert recipes: