Tofu is one of the most loved “protein rich” ingredient for vegetarians/vegans all around. If there is one ingredient I always have in my refrigerator, its Tofu ! Why I love it? Well you can play with flavours all you want and Tofu just adapts to them. If you are one of those who find Tofu tasteless or boring, then you are either not using it to its potential or have had the company of some poor recipes. Well, today I am going to share some ways I make it work in my kitchen and give you some reasons to give it another go ! Also, there is a bonus recipe for Kung Pao Tofu which you are going to love !! Read on
Tofu, made from soybean curds, is naturally a gluten-free and low calorie ingredient which contains no cholesterol and is an excellent source of proteins. It is believed that Tofu helps in reducing the risk of various lifetsyle related diseases.Not only that, this plant based product comes in various forms, making it a really versatile ingredient to work with. My personal fav is the firm tofu which I use in my soups, Indian curries, stir fries, noodles and what not.
So, let us get to the point now! I am sure there are many people out there who have been trying to get onto the tofu bandwagon for its benefits or to try and recreate their favorite vegan/vegetarian tofu take out dish at home but are not able to get it right! Though tofu handling may seem cumbersome to some, it is actually a rather simple ingredient which needs a little TLC before you can create magic with it in your kitchens. Here are my tips to make it work :
Press the Water out of Tofu before starting to cook with it . ALWAYS !!
Not pressing the tofu is one of the biggest mistakes people make. Not only does all the water need to get out of the tofu so flavor can get in, but pressing the tofu changes its texture dramatically. The tofu goes from soft and spongy to firm and dense. Once the tofu is pressed, it soaks up the marination/ spices/ flavours like a sponge and just blends in with anything it is cooked with. Pressing tofu can be a challenging task on its own but there are various products in the market now which can make your life really easy. Have you tried Tofuture?
This product is made using 3 containers. Just place the slab of tofu in the perforated box (middle layer) and press it down using the top box and the elastic band provided along to keep it in place and apply constant pressure! Just pop the box in your refrigerator and within a couple of hours, your tofu is ready to cook! I have been using this for a few weeks now and I am totally in love with how my Tofu turns out now 🙂 Give this a go!
After the pressing comes the time to let your tofu sit in flavors and absorb the goodness. Make a mean- concentrated version of your favorite flavors and let time do its job on your slab of tofu. It is recommended to cut the tofu slab into desired pieces and then marinate to allow the marination to seep evenly throughout. Marination works great when you plan to use Tofu in stir fry dishes or on its own. If you are going to add it to curries, just make sure you make curry ahead of time so that the tofu gets to sit in the curry/gravy and soak up the flavors.
If you like to use Tofu in place of Cottage cheese/ paneer in dishes, my suggestion is stir fry them on a good non stick skillet with some oil till it is crunchy on the sides. This makes for a crunchy exterior and a soft interior. Works great for Indian curry dishes or as a crouton over soups.
IF NOT SURE, FRY IT !
I usually buy the 1 pound packs of Tofu and if I am not using the whole quantity in one go, I just fry the left over batch. After you have pressed the tofu and cut into desired size, dip it in a flour+water mix or just coat with dried corn starch and fry them till crispy golden. Add in your pilafs or make a quick Chinese stir fry.
FREEZE FOR CHEWY TEXTURE
I am not a fan of chewy Tofu but if you prefer it over the softer texture, by all means, cut the pressed tofu and freeze by lining the tofu on a pre-grease baking sheet and keeping in the freezer till all the pieces are frozen. Then, simply, remove the frozen tofu pieces from the baking tray and putting them into a airtight bag (ziplock works great) and storing them in the freezer. Don’t forget to write the date on the bag to remember when you froze it. Keeps good for a few weeks to even a couple of months.
I really hope these tips help you love Tofu just as I do. I love to eat stir fry tofu and end up marinating mine almost always. There are really many ways to go when it comes to marination. You can choose the tamari/soy sauce route or go a salad dressing route (if you want to eat it raw or slightly toasted). Either way, it is amazing !
Now that your Tofu is prepped up and ready to be packed with flavors, how about making some KUNG PAO TOFU !! The original Kung Pao chicken recipe calls for lots of whole dried red chilies and peanuts but in this recipe, I have used peanut butter and sambal oelek to make sure Tofu soaks up all those flavors and keep the look of the dish clean and simple! Make ahead of time or whip up at a moment’s notice, this recipe never fails to impress all!!
Kung Pao Tofu with roasted garlic and scallions
- 1 pound of Firm Tofu, pressed and cut into desired length
- 4-5 cloves of garlic
- 1 inch ginger, thinly sliced
- 1/4th cup roasted peanuts
- 2 tablespoon sesame oil
- 2-3 scallions, roughly chopped
- 1 tablespoon light tamari
- 2 tsp cornstarch
- 1 tsp sesame oil
- 2 teaspoon light tamari
- 1 tablespoon peanut butter
- 1 teaspoon black vinegar / lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar
- 2 teaspoon sambal oelek
- 1tsp corn starch
- Combine the ingredients for the marinade and add the pressed tofu pieces to it. Mix gently to make sure tofu is well coated and let it rest for 10-15 minutes. For best results, let it soak for an 1 hour or overnight
- Combine all the ingredients for the sauce and keep it aside.
- Heat up the wok and add in 1 tablespoon oil. Now add the marinated pieces of Tofu and roast till golden brown on both sides. Once done, remove and keep aside.
- In the same wok, add in rest of the oil and heat up. Next, add in the roasted peanuts, ginger, garlic and scallions. Saute for a couple of seconds or till the garlic is light golden brown. Next, add in the sauce and mix well. Cook on medium high for a couple of seconds. The sauce will begin to thicken due to the cornstarch
- Finally, add in the roasted Tofu pieces along with the leftover marinade (taste the sauce before adding the marinade to make sure there is not excess salt in the dish). Mix everything together. As per need, you may add some water. Adjust spices.
- Serve warm over a bed of rice.
Need more ideas for Tofu? I have loads !! Check out some ideas below