How To Cook Tofu

Question:

Hi,

I have heard tofu is really good for you. Do you have any suggestions for how to cook with it?
—Rebecca

 

Answer:

Dear Rebecca,

Tofu (soybean curd) is an excellent source of protein, calcium, iron, potassium, and even has a generous amount of fiber. It is low in saturated fat and sodium and is cholesterol-free making it heart healthy. These qualities and the versatile nature of tofu make it popular, especially among vegetarian chefs.

From a cooking perspective, tofu itself is bland; it does however absorb the flavors of other ingredients that it comes in contact, making it extremely versatile. Another interesting feature of tofu: it may be eaten uncooked or cooked, meaning it can be great in a salad or a stir-fry.

Do note: tofu does not stand up to long periods of cooking, so when making a mixture, the tofu should be added at the last minute, heated through, and then removed from the heat. I have included my two favorite tofu recipes, a stir-fry and a main dish salad.

Spicy Vegetable Tofu Stir Fry

For best results, marinade the tofu overnight. If however you are rushing, 20 minutes will suffice. I also enjoy the full list of vegetables; yet, if you don't have all items on hand - don't despair, simply use what is in your refrigerator. Finally, you can feel confident substituting dry spices: for example, you may use 1 teaspoon dried ginger instead of the fresh and 1/4 teaspoon chili powder instead of the minced chile peppers.

  • 1/2 cup stock
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 4 cloves minced garlic
  • 1 tablespoon peeled minced ginger root
  • 1 tablespoon minced chile peppers
  • 1 cup cubed tofu
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 1 diced onion
  • 1 red bell pepper, cut into strips
  • 1 cup sliced carrots
  • 1/4 cup sliced mushrooms
  • 1 cup broccoli florets
  • 1/2 cup cauliflower florets
  • 1/2 cup peas
  • 2 cups cooked rice
  •  

Mix together the stock, soy sauce, garlic, ginger root, and chile peppers in a small bowl. Add the tofu cubes and marinate, preferabbly 3 to 24 hours. Heat a large wok or frying pan over medium heat. Add the oil, onion, bell pepper, and carrots. Saute for five minutes. Remove the tofu from the marinade with a slotted spoon and add the marinade to the pan and cook for 2 minutes. Add the mushrooms, broccoli, cauliflower, and peas and cook for 1 minute. Add the tofu, cover, and cook until the vegetables are crisp tender, about 2-3 minutes. Serve over hot rice.

 

My Favorite Tofu Salad

This salad has a lovely oriental taste and a crunchy texture that compliments the softness of the tofu. For the best flavor marinate the tofu overnight in the marinade. Rice wine vinegar is a very mild vinegar that allows you to cut the amount of oil in recipes. If you do not have rice wine vinegar, use your favorite vinegar and double the amount of oil used (or to taste).

Tofu Marinade:

  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1/3 cup rice wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 1 clove minced garlic
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • black pepper
  • pinch ground anise (if you have it)
  • 1 pound cubed tofu
  •  

Vegetable Marinade:

  • juice from 1/2 lemon
  • 2 teaspoons canola oil
  • 2 teaspoons soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • black pepper
  • salt
  • 2 julienned carrots
  • 2 sliced celery stalks
  • 1 cup shredded cabbage
  • 1/4 cup sliced mushrooms
  • 5 sliced scallions
  •  

Mix together all of the ingredients for the tofu marinade and refrigerate for at least three hours. Mix together the ingredients for the vegetable marinade and refrigerate for one hour. Gently toss the ingredients together and serve chilled.

Best wishes, Wen Zientek

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