5 Common Mistakes When Cooking Tofu
Tofu can be tricky to cook properly, and you may end up with a wet and flavorless dinner if you're not careful. You might love tofu in restaurants, but fail to recreate the same delightful dishes at home. But don't give up on this plant-based protein just yet, follow our simple steps to easily achieve delicious tofu.
Here are five mistakes you might be making that could turn your tofu dish into a total mess:
Using the Wrong Kind
First off, pick the right kind of tofu, because switching out tofu types can ruin the texture of a dish. The two main types of tofu are silken and regular. "Silken tofu is undrained and unpressed tofu that has high water content. It's best used in creamy and blended food like smoothies, pies, puddings, dips, sauces, and similar," says Sofia Norton, RD. It's also a great vegan egg substitute in baking when a recipe needs a binder.
On the flip side, regular tofu is pressed tofu with lower water content and a more spongy texture. "It is usually sold as soft, firm, and extra firm and soft tofu can be used in the same way as silken tofu, while firmer types are best for soups, stir-fries, tofu scramble, [and more]," she explains.
Not Pressing Before Cooking
Firm and extra firm tofu should be pressed before cooking to remove excess liquid and make room for any marinades. Once you remove the tofu from its packaging, wrap it with several paper towels or a clean kitchen towel and weigh it down with something heavy, like a cast iron pan. Leave it like this for up to 30 minutes and pat it dry afterward. "This helps remove excess liquid from the tofu, which improves texture and helps it absorb flavor," says Norton. You won't be able to remove all the liquid from the tofu, just try to remove as much as possible.
Using Flour Instead Of Starch
A lot of people eat crispy tofu in stir-fries, grain bowls, or just on its own. "For a really crispy texture, it's best to use starch instead of wheat flour," says Norton. Wheat flour is too heavy and turns soggy when used in tofu recipes.
Corn starch, potato starch, and tapioca starch, on the other hand, work perfectly with fried tofu! "Another thing is to make sure you coat tofu really well with lots of starch and use a generous amount of oil — a thin coating and lightly greased pan won't create that crunch you're after," she says.
Not Using Enough Seasoning
Tofu's neutral and rather bland flavor is its best feature. It serves as a blank canvas for your favorite seasoning and flavors. "Coat tofu generously in herbs, spices, and sauces. You can marinate it before or after cooking, just make sure you use plenty of seasonings like ginger and garlic, soy sauce, sweet and sour sauce, green onions, vinegar, cajun seasoning, and other strong flavors," she says. Otherwise, your finished dish is likely to have little taste.
Not Cutting Properly
And speaking of flavoring, tofu absorbs more flavor when you cut it properly, too. "Cut it into thin slices when baking or 1-2 inch cubes for stir-fries. This increases its cooking and seasoning surface for extra flavor," she says. You can also crumble it for recipes like chili or vegan scramble.