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Thread: Tofu

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    Vulnera Sanentur Coriolis's Avatar
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    Default Tofu

    Does anyone here cook with tofu? I enjoy eating it, but my first attempts at cooking with it have been disappointing. I am not sure how to get it to take on the flavors of the other ingredients (i.e. not remain its relatively tasteless self), how to keep it from being soggy, or how to keep it from sticking to the pan. I don't have no-stick pans, and don't really want to have to get one just for this.

    Any advice, tips, or favorite recipes welcome.
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    I'm not a tofu expert, or even an amateur. I used to just make a bit and toss it into a quick dinner. I use extra firm, I cut it into larger cubes 1" or so and fry it in a pan. I put a couple table spoons of oil in the pan and flip the cubes to get them nice and brown on all sides. The texture is really nice, though flavor is still very much tofu.

    What I *am* though is an expert in seasoning non-non-stick pans. I've been using this method for a couple of years with my scrambled eggs and it works amazingly well. I get a nice heavy pan, put a bit of high temp oil like avocado, peanut, sunflower, etc in it to coat the bottom and heat it up till the oil wants to not quite smoke. Then turn off the heat and let it cool and wipe out the oil. Then proceed to use your slick pan for whatever you like, with the oil you like. Good luck with the tofu!

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    Senior Member ceecee's Avatar
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    I have realized that this is mostly technique as well as knowing the types of tofu. Here is a pretty comprehensive guide.

    A Guide to Tofu Types and What to Do With Them | Serious Eats

    Pressing out the water or rinsing/draining is really key with many types. The other is that it doesn't really take on the flavor of other ingredients, unless it's that hyper-porous frozen tofu. The glazing method, included in the link above, totally works. I love dishes like Ma Po Tofu but I use a more firm, pressed tofu, not silken like the recipes call for. Experiment and I also like the Korean varieties of tofu better than anything else, personally. I don't use a non-stick skillet to do any of this, just a really seasoned carbon steel wok.
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    Without a non-stick pan, you have to use a lot of oil to keep it from sticking. Or you don't sear it and use a recipe that has a lot of sauce which will double duty as a way to ensure that it takes on the flavor of everything else. You can also marinate it.

    Bear in mind that there are assorted levels of firmness and selection will rely on how you wish to cook it.

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    Fe this! Z Buck McFate's Avatar
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    One of my favorite recipes: Asian Baked Tofu

    I use a large glass cake pan - just big enough to fit cubed tofu in one layer, but small enough that tofu is at least 1/2 submerged in sauce (since the tofu needs to be flipped halfway through cook time, it all gets marinated). And I tend to let it sit in the sauce a while before putting it in the oven - 15 minutes or so.

    Also, I double the amount of sauce and then I pour the extra (whatever hasn't evaporated in oven) over steamed broccoli and riced cauliflower. I also eat it with Trader Joe's cauliflower stir-fry sometimes (which also tastes good with the extra sauce poured over it).

    I used to marinate cubed tofu in a Worcester/soy sauce combination overnight. That worked pretty well, for my tastes. Although it did feel wasteful to pour so much soy sauce down the drain just to marinate.
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    Vulnera Sanentur Coriolis's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Qlip View Post
    What I *am* though is an expert in seasoning non-non-stick pans. I've been using this method for a couple of years with my scrambled eggs and it works amazingly well. I get a nice heavy pan, put a bit of high temp oil like avocado, peanut, sunflower, etc in it to coat the bottom and heat it up till the oil wants to not quite smoke. Then turn off the heat and let it cool and wipe out the oil. Then proceed to use your slick pan for whatever you like, with the oil you like. Good luck with the tofu!
    How often must this be done? Does washing remove the "seasoning"? Can this be done on all types of uncoated pans, or only cast iron?

    Quote Originally Posted by ceecee View Post
    Pressing out the water or rinsing/draining is really key with many types. The other is that it doesn't really take on the flavor of other ingredients, unless it's that hyper-porous frozen tofu. The glazing method, included in the link above, totally works. I love dishes like Ma Po Tofu but I use a more firm, pressed tofu, not silken like the recipes call for. Experiment and I also like the Korean varieties of tofu better than anything else, personally. I don't use a non-stick skillet to do any of this, just a really seasoned carbon steel wok.
    So far, I have tried only extra firm tofu, and I did press the water out. So the texture wasn't too bad, but it did tend to stick quite a bit while cooking.

    Thanks for the link - I will check it out.

    Quote Originally Posted by bechimo View Post
    Without a non-stick pan, you have to use a lot of oil to keep it from sticking. Or you don't sear it and use a recipe that has a lot of sauce which will double duty as a way to ensure that it takes on the flavor of everything else. You can also marinate it.

    Bear in mind that there are assorted levels of firmness and selection will rely on how you wish to cook it.
    I prefer it seared first and tried to do that, but ran into the aforementioned problem with sticking. I might just need to develop better technique. I think it would also help for me to cook the tofu first, then remove it and cook the other ingredients.

    Quote Originally Posted by Z Buck McFate View Post
    I use a large glass cake pan - just big enough to fit cubed tofu in one layer, but small enough that tofu is at least 1/2 submerged in sauce (since the tofu needs to be flipped halfway through cook time, it all gets marinated). And I tend to let it sit in the sauce a while before putting it in the oven - 15 minutes or so.

    Also, I double the amount of sauce and then I pour the extra (whatever hasn't evaporated in oven) over steamed broccoli and riced cauliflower. I also eat it with Trader Joe's cauliflower stir-fry sometimes (which also tastes good with the extra sauce poured over it).

    I used to marinate cubed tofu in a Worcester/soy sauce combination overnight. That worked pretty well, for my tastes. Although it did feel wasteful to pour so much soy sauce down the drain just to marinate.
    I wondered how baking would work, since I have tried only stir frying so far. I marinated the tofu the last time, which seems at odds with the idea of pressing out the water. It tasted better than the other times, but not surprisingly was soggier. Does baking encourage it to dry out more during cooking?
    I've been called a criminal, a terrorist, and a threat to the known universe. But everything you were told is a lie. The truth is, they've taken our freedom, our home, and our future. The time has come for all humanity to take a stand...

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    Quote Originally Posted by Coriolis View Post
    I prefer it seared first and tried to do that, but ran into the aforementioned problem with sticking. I might just need to develop better technique. I think it would also help for me to cook the tofu first, then remove it and cook the other ingredients.
    The secret to making a stainless steel frying pan or wok relatively non-stick, is to heat the pan on high heat until it's hot, then add oil and wait until the oil's very lightly smoking before you add the food. But...you'll still need quite a bit of oil. And yes, you should be searing the tofu first, then removing it from the pan to fry other things, then add back later.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Coriolis View Post
    How often must this be done? Does washing remove the "seasoning"? Can this be done on all types of uncoated pans, or only cast iron?
    Yes, washing removes the seasoning, so you'd do it right before you cook. I usually start that while doing ingredient prep, it doesn't take long. And I use it on my stainless pans.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Coriolis View Post

    I wondered how baking would work, since I have tried only stir frying so far. I marinated the tofu the last time, which seems at odds with the idea of pressing out the water. It tasted better than the other times, but not surprisingly was soggier. Does baking encourage it to dry out more during cooking?
    Yes. In fact I doubled the sauce originally to keep it from drying out as much. I like tofu crispy on the outside, I tend to cook it almost twice as long as the recipe calls for - and having it halfway submerged in sauce allows for the top to brown while the bottom cooks in the sauce (then once the top has browned, I flip them over for the other side to brown - the result is well seasoned and crispy on all sides).

    I have used this same sauce recipe on the stove top - searing first, then simmering for a while in the sauce. I like the oven consistency more, but the stove top method is much faster.

    I've been wanting to try air-frying tofu, but haven't gotten myself a fancy air-fryer yet.
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