How to cook with tofu: Basic tips to create the perfect dish

by JL Fields on December 24, 2010

Before I get to the tofu, let me share a tempeh story.

On Wednesday I attended the faculty / staff holiday luncheon on campus. I knew that my only vegan option would be a salad so I diced some leftover grilled tempeh—marinated in maple syrup, sesame oil, rice vinegar, garlic, tamari sauce and cayenne pepper—and chopped a few cashews and stored in small plastic container with a spoonful of sunflower seeds.  I took some homemade vegan sour cream, added sesame oil and rice vinegar and blended to make a salad dressing, which I poured into another small plastic container.  Before the luncheon I grabbed both containers from the office refrigerator and tossed them in my purse

and made this delicious meal!  The chicken-eaters were jealous.

I’m now on day two a five-day holiday weekend (woot!) and want to take a moment to wish you and yours a wonderful holiday, if you celebrate it. I hope you have a weekend full of miracles and hope.

Until Monday, here’s another piece I wrote for This Dish is Veg this week.

How to cook with tofu: Basic tips to create the perfect dish

I like to cook and I love to eat but I’m not one of those “brilliant” cooks. I am that cook who enjoys lots of flavor and wants her food to be quick and easy to make. Which is why I love tofu.

Here’s my laywoman’s take on tofu.

Firm Tofu
First, you want to press the water out of the tofu. Most people who have cooked with tofu have done something like this:


But these days you see a lot of people using the TofuXpress.


Either way works, just press that water out of the tofu before using.

The tofu is pressed. Now what? Make a marinade! You can scour vegan cookbooks and websites/blogs for great marinade recipes but why not make something that tastes good to YOU? All you need to start is

  • a fat (olive or sesame oils)
  • an acid (vinegar or citrus juice)
  • spices
  • salt (I prefer Bragg’s Liquid Aminos, but sea salt, soy and tamari sauces are good, too)
  • garlic (not a must but I almost always use it)

Then you take it from there. I have tried things like miso with date syrup and pumpkin. You can marinade tofu 20 minutes to 24 hours though I tend to marinate it for 2 – 8 hours. How do you want it? Fried? Baked? Grilled? Yes, all three are perfect!

  • Bake on 350 for 20 minutes turning at 10 minutes.
  • Pan fry in olive or sesame oil for 8 – 10 minutes turning at mid-point.
  • Grill for 10 – 12 minutes, turning at mid-point on a gas or electric grill.

You can enjoy “scrambled tofu” for breakfast. For lunch, crumble tofu for an “eggless” salad or dice it in a soup.

JL’s Tofu Pumpkin Soup

Soft and Silken Tofu
Soft tofu is great to make sour cream, cream cheese, salad dressings and desserts. (ETA links)

TDIV Editor’s note: Press your tofu then freeze between sheets of wax paper. This method creates a spongy, more absorbent texture—perfect for marinating. Defrost prior to marinating.

How do you cook with tofu?

Originally posted on This Dish is Veg.

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