Since I first discovered tofu in my early teens, it has become one of my staples. I really like it and I love that today it can be easily found anywhere, but unfortunately you are still looked at weirdly when you declare your passion for this ingredient. And today I come to his defense, it is okay to accuse tofu of being bland or boring: the problem is that it is not prepared well. how can? cook a delicious tofu at home?
First step: buy good quality tofu. No, not all tofu is worth it; like everything in life there are different types and different brands, better and worse. It also depends a bit on the tastes of each one, but it is important to try until we find what we know will give us good results. And then you have to forget about those precocious ideas how bad a reputation they give him; tofu can be a delight and the best part is that it adapts to thousands of different recipes.
Cauliflower fillets with chimichurri sauce
Tofu: a vegetable ingredient rich in protein
What everyone knows about tofu is that it is “the meat of vegetarians”, at least that is the fame it has earned. It is true, it is a basic product always recommended in vegetarian and vegan diets, since it offers a good source of vegetable protein without animal ingredients. But tofu has many more nutritional properties, such as its mineral and fiber content, or providing healthy fats with few calories.
It is a product obtained from soybeans, a legume that by itself is already very interesting nutritionally, and therefore we find very similar benefits in tofu. But we are not going to focus now on its beneficial role for health, which has it, the important thing is vindicate its gastronomic value and the possibilities it offers to anyone in the kitchen. Because no, you don’t have to be a vegetarian or want to “eat healthier” to add tofu to our menus.
The different types of tofu
Tofu as such does not exist in nature, so it is a processed food of which you can find different types. In addition to finding a good trusted brand, we have to be clear about what tofu we are looking for, because depending on the variety it will give us different results in the kitchen. Broadly speaking, we can find firm tofu –signed– and silky tofu –silken–, depending on the consistency and texture it has, depending on the level of water used in its preparation.
The terminology can be somewhat confusing depending on the brands, if it is an imported product or if it is prepared according to the Chinese or Japanese method. Some names that we can find in stores are:
- Dry tofu or regular tofu. It is the most “standard”, a firm tofu of medium consistency that serves many things.
- Firm tofu or firm tofu. Also called chine firm tofu, in this case its texture is similar to ricotta, firm but somewhat grainy if it is crumbled or crushed.
- Extra firm tofu or extra-firm tofu. The most solid consistency, easier to cut and keep its shape.
- Japanese firm silky tofu or silken firm tofu. Softer, still firm in texture but much creamier and silkier. It is typical of miso soup.
- Japanese soft or smooth silky tofu or silken soft tofu. The most tender, light and creamy variety. It is very soft, sometimes almost liquid, can be crushed into creams and is perfect for making sauces and desserts.
- Momendofu. Specific Japanese term for firmer “cotton” tofu.
- Kinugoshidofu. Specific Japanese term for “silk” tofu, the softest and creamiest.
To those who are interested in tofu for the first time and are not necessarily vegetarian or vegan, I recommend looking for a firm tofu. That is the one that everyone visualizes when they think of “vegetable meat”, and the easiest to incorporate into any diet in a multitude of recipes that are not far-fetched. But you have to know how to cook it so as not to fail in the attempt.
How to cook delicious tofu
We start from the fact that we have a tofu of acceptable quality, firm texture and tasteless. I add this last nuance because there are also many brands that offer tofu already mixed with other ingredients, or in the form of different preparations. I prefer to opt for the natural one and prepare it to my liking at home, but everyone is free to experiment and try. Beware of excess salt in these products.
How to prepare the tofu so that it comes out delicious? What we are looking for is texture and flavor, and for that it is essential to drain it well. There are specific presses to leave a perfect tofu, but it can be done at home without much difficulty. Here I was telling you how to do it, you will see that the only problem is remembering to do it with enough time before cooking. Some people prefer to cut it before draining it, I have gotten used to doing it with the whole piece.
With the tofu already free of as much liquid as possible, we will cut it or cook it directly. Ideally, cut it into cubes, triangles or rectangles that can be eaten directly in one bite, as if we were to cut meat for a sauté. We want the tofu to be crisp and golden, to bring out its natural sugars to caramelize slightly and bring out the best of its texture and flavor.
To do this, with the dry tofu -I will not tire of insisting-, we will heat a good pan or non-stick griddle, without greasing. When it is very hot, we will add a couple of tablespoons of oil, stirring so that it covers the entire bottom. Then, lowering the temperature a bit, the tofu is added, distributing the pieces in a single layer. We should cook it until golden brown on all sides, leaving it slightly crisp.
Once well browned, we will add the salt and the different spices or dressings that we want to use. If we want to add it to a stir fry, it is better to remove the tofu first, cook the other ingredients and return the tofu at the end to the pan or wok. Depending on how we are going to serve it, we can mix it in a source with a sauce, use it as a filling for sandwiches, tacos or spring rolls, incorporate it into stews, take it with rice, etc.
Marinate or batter?
You can coat the tofu before cooking it if we want to obtain slightly different results. A thin layer of cornstarch or rice It helps create a crispier, browned outer crust, and more consistent batters like panko or tempura can also be applied. In this case, we must fry in plenty of hot oil and the tofu should be eaten immediately, or it could become too soft.
As for the marinade, I don’t recommend it. It seems counterintuitive because tofu in theory doesn’t taste like anything, but its sponge-like nature makes it not a good idea to marinate when cooking. Except in specific recipes, it is better to add aromas, flavors and sauces after cooking. Otherwise we could have a too soft tofu, with an unpleasant interior texture and an unappetizing raw flavor. Remember that the key is to achieve that crisp and golden exterior texture.
The versatility of tofu: not just as a meat substitute
Yes, tofu is perfect to change the meat or fish in any recipe, and thus adapt it to a vegetarian or vegan diet, but its versatility offers us much more than that. You just have to take a look at Asian cookbooks to see that tofu can coexist with animal ingredients, thus enriching the omnivorous diet without having to force ourselves to choose. Why can’t you enjoy a chicken curry stir fry with veggies and tofu? Or some shrimp skewers with tofu? Or beef spring rolls, noodles, and tofu?
It is a good way for the most skeptical to get to know tofu and give it a try. You don’t have to be vegan to enjoy this ingredient, which is why I like to encourage everyone to try it. Once we are familiar with it, we can take the opportunity to reduce the consumption of animal products a little, especially if we abuse too much meat every day.
With tofu you can make stir-fries and woks with vegetables, rice, quinoa, couscous, legumes, millet or pasta. It can be added to stews, soups, stews and stews, as well as warm and cold salads. It is also perfect for preparing fillings for sandwiches, sandwiches, fajitas, tacos, tostas or even cannelloni and lasagna. Crushed can be used as if it were minced meat or cooked as scrambled eggs, and if it is soft it can be made into sauces, purees, smoothies and desserts.
Do you need some inspiration to cook with tofu? Here you have a good selection of recipes to get started:
Do you use cook with tofu at home? What is your favorite recipe? If you have any tips to prepare really delicious dishes with tofu, do not hesitate to share them with us. Encourage us to give it another try in your kitchen!
Photos | iStock.com
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