Friday, April 27, 2007

What do I do with tofu?

My hope is that someone, someday will find this post helpful in trying to figure out what to do with tofu for the first time.
I want to make it clear that a delicious, impressive, filling, healthy and fun meal with tofu can be quick (with a little prep in advance) and easy to make.

So you finally did it. You braved your local supermarket and are home with a block of tofu (preferably firm or extra firm). What do you do now?
  1. Take the block of tofu out from its container, drain the water, discard the container.
  2. Handling the tofu gently, rinse it well with cold water.
  3. Grab a flat dish, like a cookie sheet or roasting pan. Line it with several layers of tea towels or paper towels.
  4. Slice the tofu into steaks, around 1/2 to 3/4 inch thick
  5. Line up on tea/paper towels.
  6. Now cover with several more layers of tea towels and paper towels.
  7. Place another roasting pan or cookie sheet on top, weigh it down with heavy objects such as cans, bricks, your toaster, what have you.
  8. Leave this for at least an hour.
  9. Meanwhile, prepare marinade. Here's my favorite combination, but feel free to experiment and increase/decrease spicyness to your taste: tamari, water, crushed garlic, crushed fresh ginger, chili oil, chili sauce (such as sriracha), sugar or maple syrup (tiny amount!), sesame oil, mirin or rice vinegar. Mix well.
  10. After tofu has drained well, place in marinade inside ziploc bag or securely lidded tupperware dish. Place in refrigerator for at least 2 hours, or preferably overnight, moving tofu around a few times to ensure even distribution.
  11. Heat a cast-iron grill or pan to high, brush lightly with oil.
  12. Grill tofu 3-5 minutes on each side, or until golden brown (or nice grill marks), reserving marinade.
  13. Meanwhile, bring some water to a boil (do NOT salt the water). Throw in your favorite vegetables, fresh or frozen, until just tender, about 1-2 minutes. (I used broccoli, cauliflower, and carrots) Take out with slotted spoon. Toss with leftover tofu marinade. (You couldn't do this with chicken marinade, now, could you?)
  14. Use same water to cook 2 bunches of soba (Japanese buckwheat) noodles for about 3-4 minutes.
  15. Drain noodles and rinse with cool water.
  16. Plate! Sprinkle with some toasted sesame seeds for garnish, texture and taste.
  17. Eat!

**Wait, we're not done! After this meal, you probably feel light and refreshed, right? How about an equally light and refreshing dessert?

Grab yourself some vegan chocolate spread. Here you see two options from the U.K.: chocolate hazelnut (with real chunks of hazelnut- take that, Nutella!) and chocolate orange (possibly my favorite flavor combination.) Organic, hydrogenated fat free, cruelty free, this is one dessert you can feel good about!

Take lid off jar and microwave for about 30 seconds.

Grab some juicy strawberries (or whatever fruit is in season. Frozen bananas are especially good, as is canteloupe) and drizzle with chocolate spread.

Isn't life great?



Kati said...

This is a great post, Bazu! I wish I had read something like this when I was tofu-phobic (really not that long ago) - it would have helped me a lot. Instead, J and I had to endure lots of gross, mushy tofu. I finally got the hang of it, of course, but I think proper tofu prep is something all vegetarians and vegans should learn. I would gladly eat this meal any day of the week!

We're very excited about moving to Ithaca - we're kind of counting down the months, in fact. Chicago's fine, but...well...I just miss NY. It will be nice to have some vegan friends nearby, too. =) Do you ever go to the ABC cafe? I actually think I may like it better than Moosewood, if you can believe such a thing.

Oh yeah, and those strawberries look divine!

Courtney said...

Yum--what a great post. I had been a vegan for at least a year (and a vegetarian for years before that) before I figured out pressing tofu!!


scottishvegan said...

Very informative post :) I rarely press tofu these days. I used to do it all the time…now I just give it a squeeze and use it that way and I think the texture/taste is fine. Mind you I could eat it straight out of the pack just the way it is. Am I weird?! Your tofu dish looks really good. The chocolate spread looks fab…I will need to look for that when in the UK. Chocolate orange spread sounds awesome!

Melody Polakow said...

uummm.. yes.. tofu... yes...

Can I eat tofu at your house? You make is exactly how I like it!

Emmy said...

What a terrific post about using tofu. Those chocolate dipped strawberries look like a perfect dessert.

laura jesser said...

Those strawberries are just gorgeous... This is a great post topic. It's funny, one of my friends on Facebook recently messaged me and said she bought tofu for the first time, and had no idea how to handle it when she opened it and it was sitting in a bath! I gave her some instructions and such, but next time that happens I will just point them this way! :)

springsandwells said...

What a great & helpful tofu post! It took me so long to work with tofu when I became vegetarian.

Where do you buy that special chocolate spread? I've never seen it!! But I want to try it!!

b36Kitchen said...

Life is great. Especially when chocolate and perfectly pressed and marinated tofu is involved.


Urban Vegan said...

Life IS great. Tofu is great. Chocolate yuminess is great. And being vegan is GREAT.

What I love about tofu is its versatility. I love how you can eat it as is, or trasnform it into a soup, a sandwich spread, a "Steak," a mousse, a pie filling, etc. I start to feel panicky if I don;t have tofu in the 'fridge.

Your tips wiill be so helpful to tofu newbies.

Anonymous said...

great post! i love the tips!

Village Vegan said...

Oh, that was a great tofu post. Can you believe I've only ever made two tofu dishes: curry and scrambled tofu. I don't really love tofu, but I should probably expand my tofu-repertoire. Your marinated tofu sounds pretty good-- I'll have to try it.

Where do you get the vegan chocolate spread? I LOVED Nutella, and so I can't wait to try that version...the choc orange one sounds really yummy.

Celine said...

it's so sad to see so many people get turned off from trying tofu because they either haven't had a chance to try a good version of it, or haven't prepared it the right way. I bet there'd be barely any tofu-haters out there if they'd got a taste of yours! :D

Susan said...

I wish I had this post when I first bought tofu years ago. I love it and eat it all the time. Have you tried Trader Joe's extra firm high-protein tofu? It's the best I've ever had, and I've tasted a lot of them. Great post, Bazu!

bazu said...

Thank you to everyone for your comments! I know most of my readers know a thing or two (or 100!) about tofu, my hope is that this post will show even more people the ease and versatility of tofu.

As for the Plamil chocolate spreads, I bought them from last year, and was very disappointed to find out that they aren't carrying them any more. As you can see from the photo, my reserves are almost depleted!

Fortunately, Urban Vegan posted about Chocoreale, another vegan European Nutella-type chocolate spread, so all is not lost!

Tracy said...

Your tofu sounds great! My favourite way to make tofu ( especially for tofu-virgins that visit) is to cut it into wedges, dregde in soymilk and spicy flour, and deepfry briefly. They taste like chicken wings, (according to hubby.)
BTW, I got to the city today and looked for that tea you wanted. I wasn't successful.:0(
Good luck finding it somewhere else!

Emilie said...

wow--a new world has appeared before in which i do more with plamil than open the jar and sit down with a spoon until it's all gone. i *adore* that stuff!

vko said...

Tofu is a staple in my vegan home- you are so right, so simple & easy and always delicious.

The strawberries look absolutely delectable!