When most people think about a vegetarian diet, they think of tofu. Although it is popular among vegetarians and vegans, tofu has actually been a staple food of Asian communities for centuries. It is made mainly from soybean and comes in different textures. If you would like to incorporate this protein-rich food into your diet, take time to learn how to cook tofu the right way.
Nutrients in Tofu
Tofu is popular among vegetarians because it offers plant-based protein. Many people use it as a replacement for meats in dishes to make them more filling. Protein is also well-known for the positive effects it has on muscle. Other than protein, tofu is also calcium-rich, providing up to 15% of the daily recommended intake. Tofu also carries nutrients called isoflavones, which can help prevent cardiovascular conditions and cancer.
Types of Tofu
To know how to cook tofu, you need to be familiar with the types available. Tofu is classed according to two major categories: silken tofu and regular tofu. Silken tofu is softer in texture compared to regular tofu. Silken tofu tends to crumble when mishandled and needs to be submerged in water for storage. Regular tofu, on the other hand, is firm and it is the variety commonly available in food stores. It is widely used because it maintains its shape even when it’s cooked.
How to Cook Tofu the Right Way
The best choice of tofu is always the fresh kind. Packaged tofu usually has too many preservatives added to extend its shelf life. If tofu is packed in water, use absorbent paper towels and some pressure to press the moisture out prior to cooking.
How to Cook Tofu by Sautéing
Press and cut 1 pound of extra firm tofu into ½-inch thick slices.
In a pan, heat 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil, peanut or canola oil.
Add tofu pieces, making sure they are well-spaced. Sprinkle salt, pepper and your choice of spices on the tops of the pieces. Leave them to cook for 5-7 minutes or until a brown crust forms on the bottom sides.
Flip tofu pieces and brown the other side.
Remove from heat and drain the oil on a paper towel. Season and serve.
How to Cook Tofu in Oven
To roast tofu in the oven, you’ll need:
- 2 packets of regular firm tofu
- Your choice of seasoning or marinade
Press moisture out of the tofu and cut into slices an inch thick.
Preheat oven to 350 F. While the oven heats up, season tofu pieces or soak in marinade for 20 minutes.
Place tofu slices on a baking sheet and cook until lightly brown. This can take 40 minutes to 1 hour.
Tofu is a delicious alternative to meaty sources of protein. Its neutral, absorbent nature allows it to take on the flavor of your seasoning and other dishes easily. Silken tofu is best served with soups and salads. Regular firm tofu is great for stir-fry and baked dishes.