Or, at least this is how I prepare tofu.
I had never eaten tofu before I upgraded to a vegan lifestyle. And yes, back then I had the same response to it as many carnists do- Ewww, gross! Yeah, it’s not gross though. It’s actually really good because tofu takes on whatever flavor you (properly) tell it to. You want BBQ tofu? It’s yours. Battered and fried? Go for it. There’s nothing gross about it at all. Also, I can’t think of a single animal protein source that has the versatility that tofu does, so bonus points right there. It can be the base of a fruit smoothie, the scramble in your ‘eggs’, the creaminess of your Alfredo, and tons more in between.
So, if tofu ain’t doin’ it for you, it could very well be you, not the tofu. Sorry..
Your mindset being one thing- try to be open-minded and check out recipes, explore the myriad of ways tofu can be used. The other issue (which is usually the case) is that the tofu isn’t being prepped properly. Being that as much of the packaging water needs to be removed as possible. That’s what we’re going to learn today.
How to Prepare Tofu:
1. Remove the Tofu from the container, place it on a plate, and slice it into thirds in a way that will leave you with 3 large, but thin, slices of Tofu. You’ll do this by standing it up on one side with your thumb on one side, and your fingers on the other, with the knife slicing down in between.
2. Lay out a nice little stack of newspaper (about 10 pages or so). Don’t unfold it so that it’s open- just lay it down as though you only wanted the see the front page, top to bottom.
3. Lay a few (still connected) pieces of paper towels on top of the newspaper.
4. Take the three cuts of Tofu and place them all the way to one end of the paper towel, right next to one another (because the newspaper fits three pieces of tofu perfectly if there is no space in between). Roll them up in the paper towel, over and over, until you get to the end.
5. Now you will roll that up in the newspaper in the same manner. Post publication question from a reader- will the ink from the newspaper bleed onto the tofu? Answer- in the hundreds of times I have done this in this exact manner, never once have I seen ink on my tofu, or even on the paper towels between the tofu and the newspaper. However, if you are concerned, go ahead and double up on the paper towels, or even use a clean dish towel instead of paper towels.
6. Now listen up. This is critical. Go outside and fetch a landscaping brick, and lay that on top of your newspaper roll. Just kidding, but do get something equally as heavy. The heavier it is, the faster and more effective the straining process will be. I think my brick weighs about 10 lbs. If you only have books, go ahead and stack a few on top of each other. If you do have a [clean] landscaping brick, go ahead and use it.
You’ll know the tofu is ready to use when you see the liquid absorb into the newspaper, and the longer you can leave it there, the better. I have left it on there a whole afternoon and it was fine. I’ve taken it off after 10 minutes, and it was fine (though not as drained as I would have liked it). TIP: If you are using something you care about (like books), be sure to place a protective barrier (such as a plastic bag) in between the newspaper surface and the heavy item you are using. This will prevent a book binding, for example, from being saturated with tofu water.
This draining/straining of the tofu is very important if you would like things such as crispier tofu when baking or cooking in a pan, or tofu to take on more of the flavor of a marinade or sauce you’d like to use. Water takes a while to cook out, and can make it difficult to achieve certain crispier textures. And water dilutes marinades, so much so that sometimes it’s not even worth using a marinade.
I hope that if you didn’t know how to prepare tofu, that this is a game-changer for you. It probably goes without saying, but this technique is not to be used on soft or silken tofus. They are supposed to be wetter.
So, enjoy! Check out this recipe for Savory SunButter & Sesame Sauce on Spaghetti Squash, Baby Bok Choy, and Pan-seared Tofu and maybe take your new tofu skills for a test run. It’s really good. Drop a comment below and let us know what you think!