Thank you House Foods for sponsoring this post!
As many of you know, I LOVE tofu. When I was young, Mama Lin used to whip up tofu dishes all the time—from soups to stir fries to desserts. So began my love affair with tofu. I pride myself on converting my husband into a tofu lover. What he saw in tofu was a white, bland, squidgy mass that’s shaped into a block. What I see is a blank canvas to build a wide range of flavors. He has been amazed by the different tofu dishes that I’ve whipped up over the years.
My friends at House Foods know about my passion for tofu and asked me to put together a quick guide on how to cook with tofu! All the dishes you see below have been made with House Foods tofu.
Making tofu is a lot like making cheese. First, soybeans are soaked in water, and ground up with a bit of water to get a thick soybean mixture. Then, the soybean mixture is added to a pot of hot water to make soy milk. Next, the soy milk is combined with a coagulant, such as calcium sulphate or magnesium chloride. The mixture is then poured into cloth-lined molds and pressed to release the whey (liquids). The amount of whey that remains in the tofu helps to determine the texture and density of the tofu.
TYPES OF TOFU
Soft tofu is either not weighed down at all or weighed down very briefly. The soy curds don’t separate from the whey, which is why the texture of soft tofu looks very smooth. There is no need to press soft tofu to absorb the liquid before cooking. Because it doesn’t have a strong structure, to tofu will end up crumbling
I love using soft tofu to make desserts. Because of its rich flavor, it is a versatile ingredient for dairy-free desserts, such as the mango pineapple mouse pictured above. (Click here for the recipe.) You can also blend soft tofu into your smoothies for a shot of natural protein. No need to cook the tofu before adding it to the blender. Just throw it right in!
Here are a few more ideas on how to make desserts with soft tofu!
Besides desserts, you can also use soft tofu for savory dishes. I like dicing it into small cubes and adding them as a garnish to brothy soups, such as the miso soup pictured above.
One of my favorite dishes growing up was a soft tofu stir fry that Mama Lin made. It’s gently stirred with onions, garlic, dried shrimp, scallions and soy sauce. If you are stir-frying soft tofu be sure not to mix it too much with a spatula. Otherwise, the tofu will crumble too much.
Because some of the whey has been pressed out, you can generally see curds in medium-firm tofu. If you use your hands to press down on a block of medium-firm tofu gently, however, you can immediately tell that the tofu is wobbly in the center. The tofu block with definitely crack if you handle it too much.
Medium-firm tofu is great to add to soups, like my curry laksa (pictured below), if you want a more toothsome tofu than the soft variety. I don’t cook the tofu for too long. Once the noodle soup is nearly done, I add the medium tofu and stir gently. The heat in the soup will warm up the tofu. Click here for the curry laksa recipe.
Firm tofu is very commonly used in stir-fry recipes. The curds are visible and the structure is quite tight. When you press down on the block of tofu, there is some give, but it won’t break when you handle in.
I often pan fry firm tofu. Before cooking, I will wrap one to two layers of paper towels around the tofu block and place it in between two plates. Then, I place a bag of sugar or flour over the top plate to use as a weight to press the tofu. This helps release extra moisture from the tofu, which ensures a crisper texture on the outside when pan frying.
Extra-firm tofu is probably the variety that I use the most. It is the most compact out of all the tofus discussed here because it’s been pressed in the mold for the longest time. That’s why extra-firm tofu is not quite as high as the other varieties. Even though a lot of the whey has been pressed out of the tofu, I still press the tofu between two plates to get out the extra moisture before pan frying.
In general, firm tofu and extra-firm tofu can be used interchangeably in stir fries, but I prefer the chewier texture of extra-firm tofu. It is amazing when cooked with teriyaki sauce!
Here are a few ways to cook with extra-firm tofu!
I hope this guide inspires you to make a few tofu dishes soon! Be sure to grab a package of House Foods tofu and let me know how your creations turn out!
Disclosure: This recipe is sponsored by House Foods. Thank you for supporting the brands that keep me inspired in the kitchen! To learn more about House Foods products and recipes, check them out at their website or follow them on Facebook!