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all about tofu - how to buy, prep, and cook a vegan staple

We get a lot of questions about tofu. What is it? How do you cook it? How do you store it? Most importantly - how do you make it not taste like a big block of bland? Read below to learn a lot more about tofu, one of our favorite foods. 

WHAT IS IT?

Tofu is basically soybean bean curd, and is made through a process not too unlike making cheese. It’s not some weird healthy food - it’s good food with a lot of history  that’s gotten a bad rap over the years here in the US. I know I’ve had my share of terrible tofu dishes out in the wild, but that doesn’t mean it’s inherently tasteless or bland. It’s the opposite: tofu is like a giant sponge, ready to be absorbed by any flavor you give it, and if you prepare it right it will be great.

WHAT KIND SHOULD I BUY?

  • We buy this super-firm high-protein tofu, because you don’t have to press it before you use it and it’s more nutrient dense. We use it for everything, but mostly for sandwiches and stir-fries.
  • Very firm and firm tofu are best for stir fries, tofu scrambles, and any dish you want the tofu to stick together.
  • Soft and silken tofu are best for sauces, smoothies, soups, pies, and any dish you want the tofu to be more of a liquid or very soft and light.
  • Pre-marinated tofu is good if you’re short on time and/or haven’t worked much with it before.

HOW DO I PREP IT?

If you’re not using the super firm tofu or pre-marinated tofu, you’ll need to press it before you cook it. To press:

  1. Drain out the liquid from the tofu package.
  2. Wrap the block of tofu in a clean kitchen towel.
  3. Place the wrapped tofu on a plate, then put another plate on top. Place a stack of books or something heavy on top. Let sit for at least 30 minutes.

You need to press out the water in the tofu so you can get flavor in it. Imagine the block like a sponge full of water - once you press the water out, all of the holes in the sponge are empty. That’s what you want! Pressing makes the tofu more dense and chewy, rather than wet and soggy, and will end up in a better flavor for you later.

How do I store it?

Keep it covered in fresh water in a sealed container in the refrigerator for up to 7-10 days. Be sure to change out the water every day or so, to keep it fresh. You can tell when tofu goes bad because the smell is very sour and strong - but that's only ever happened to us once, and we keep ours for a while pretty often.

FAVORITE RECIPES

Great tofu recipes we’ve found around the web:
Tofu recipes from our issues:

So, what’s your favorite way to make tofu? Or have you yet to try it? Let us know in the comments! <3

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