Tofu is inexpensive, filling, nutritious, and … often tastes terrible. It doesn’t have to. I promise. Time and temperature are two simple tricks that can turn your tofu frown upside down.
One of our staple meals for busy weeknights is a tofu and veggie stir fry over brown rice. We cook and eat a lot of tofu and we’ve cooked and eaten a lot of bad tofu but over the years we eventually found a simple way to make it taste great in three simple steps.
Dry it out
If you ever bought tofu, you know the most common form of packaging is the block of tofu in water. Why water? Mostly because it helps the tofu stay moist and retain it’s shape. You are now seeing more sold in the thermally sealed packaging without water but with the water is still most common and the first step is getting that water out so we can put in the flavor.
If you plan to cook with tofu regularly or even semi-regularly, I’d seriously consider getting a tofu press. We’ve had this one for more than ten years and it shows no signs of rust or wear. Dead simple to use and very effective, it saves you from having to use paper towels or dish towels between heavy pots and pans.
Let it sit out and drain for as long as you can. If using the press periodically tighten the screws and flip it over. TIP: You can drain it overnight in the fridge, too!
WAIT. WHAT IS TOFU EXACTLY?
Tofu is a soy-based food that is made from curdling soy milk. It has very little taste on its own, but it’s a flavor sponge, soaking up flavor in a variety of dishes.
Tofu is rich in calcium, manganese, copper, selenium, protein, phosphorous, omega-3 fats, iron, magnesium, zinc, and vitamin B1.
Cut & Cook
Next, slice it up into one inch cubes and place it on a parchment lined baking sheet and cook it in a 400 degree oven for 20 – 30 minutes. The longer you cook it the drier it will get. Cook it to your desired texture and preference.
Leave it alone
When it’s done, take it off the pan and let it sit. That’s it. Go about preparing your dinner or going about your day until you’re ready to use the tofu.
That’s it. We’ve let it sit out after cooking it for up to 3 hours and it was fine when we eventually added it back in to whatever we are cooking. This method works best for dishes where you are looking for a meat-like texture in the dish like stir frys or tacos.
Time and temperature. It’s almost like magic.