Tofu Hack #1: Freeze It!
Many people–whether they are vegan or not–have a love-hate relationship with tofu. It can be such a delicious main, side or meat substitute when prepared in restaurants, but cooking it at home can often produce very…different results.
The most frustrating aspect of tofu for me was when I would try to mimic seemingly simple stir-fries I enjoyed at any given restaurant. I would be able to master the sauce for the dish, and even had the exact vegetables and/or grains used. Try as I might, the tofu never took on the sauce or flavor in the way that I expected, even when I marinated it for hours.
Fast forward a few years, and a suggestion from a waiter would forever change the part of my life centered on tofu. I was told that freezing tofu was key to cooking with it. Many people already rightfully aim to reduce the amount of water in a tofu block by pressing on it or wrapping it with a kitchen towel. However, freezing it apparently dramatically changes the tofu, making it more sponge-like, ready to absorb all sauces, flavors, marinades and dressings.
I tried it almost immediately after I learned about this hack and the results were incredible. The tofu even had larger holes after it thawed, mimicking a sponge! The texture was different and there was no residue sauce leftover in my stir-fries anymore since the transformed tofu absorbed any trace amounts of liquid. As a result, the tofu itself was much more flavorful and played a more important role in the overall dish.
For those interested in upping their tofu game, follow these steps to get the most out of your bean curd:
- Remove firm tofu from package and discard all of the water.
- Press the tofu as much as possible to drain the excess water out of it. You can also wrap it in a kitchen towel and place a heavy pot or cookbook on it for a few minutes.
- Place the tofu in a freezer bag–either as a block or in cubes/slices for easier use, and allow it to freeze.
- Remove it from the freezer a few hours before you plan to use it so that there is ample time for it to thaw.
- Press the tofu again to get rid of any remaining water, and enjoy it in your recipes!
To lean more about what happens to tofu when it freezes and then thaws, Slate de-mystified the magic right here:
“Freezing changes the texture of tofu drastically and almost magically: When ice crystals form, they create small holes in the tofu, making it far spongier, firmer, and chewier than it was before. No amount of draining, patting dry, or pressing tofu can minimize sogginess as much as freezing does. Once your tofu is thawed, the world is your oyster.”
Make sure to apply this tofu hack to your next culinary adventure and see the world of difference it produces! And if you end up with a new favorite recipe, make sure to add it to our directory to get featured on our website!