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Oct 25, 2005 09:23 AM

Firm tofu

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My husband, who until fairly recently would not have considered tofu to be an edible substance, wants to try cooking with firm tofu. This came about because of a meal we had at Pei Wei, the P.F. Chang fast food outlet. Our meals were generally less than tasty, except that my noodle dish and his stirfry contained firm tofu, which turned out to be the best part of each preparation. He subsequently read that firm tofu will take on the flavor of anything in which it is marinated. Has anyone had success with this?

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  1. Yes, it's pretty common knowledge among vegetarians and tofu aficionados. The Enchanted Broccoli Forest cookbook has lots of tofu marinating hints. Faves: soy sauce & orange juice!

    If the texture of tofu is objectionable, be aware that firm tofu can be made even firmer by wrapping it in a towel, putting it on a plate, and weighting it with something heavy for at least 15-20 minutes. (I use a cast iron pan.) This squeezes the water out and makes it hold together better through stir frying. Yum!

    6 Replies
    1. re: neighbor

      I've been buying "extra firm" tofu at my local supermarket and it is pre-cubed for convenience. I've used it in stir fry as well as sneaking it in chili!

      1. re: Aimee

        First tofu I ever enjoyed was marinated in soy sauce and then sautéed with mushrooms, at a long-defunct veggie restaurant in Nashville. Up until then tofu had just been something nasty to pick out of my soup.

        Tastes change, however. One of our favorite San Gabriel Valley Chinese restaurants has deepfried tofu cubes. Not seasoned at all, the interior is kind of bland and flavorless, but for some reason I have to get them every time we go. I don't understand the appeal at all, but there it is.

        1. re: Will Owen

          I imagine the appeal is in the crunch!

      2. re: neighbor

        It helps a lot to slice the tofu into 1” thick slices before pressing. This process of pressing helps a lot if you are going to sauté or fry the tofu. Cuts down on splatter and helps with browning.

        Another neat trick I’ve learned is that if you freeze tofu you can thaw it and then squeeze a ton of water out. This is great if you’re making a chili.


        1. re: ChefElias

          I have tried freezing tofu but mine always comes out very unappealingly spongy. Perhaps I'm not squashing it enough.

          1. re: neighbor
            Caitlin McGrath

            Even if you squeeze all the water out, the texture will be completely altered. Some people prefer the post-freezing texture.

      3. This is the recipe that turned me from a tofu hater into a tofu eater. The friends who made it for me served it layered rather than tossed and served srircha (sp?) hot sauce for sprinkling. Yum. (Don't skip the nuts.)


        1. Tofu is also very good baked. Press (as described below) for a bit to squeeze out excess water. Marinate in mixture of your choice (lemon juice, soy sauce and garlic is a good place to start). Bake at 350 about 25 mins, stirring occasionally. The tofu will shrink and get firmer as it bakes; take it out when it's the way you like it.

          1. Tofu can be a nice break from meat. For convenience sake, I usually buy the organic firm tofu from Trader Joe's; however, it's best to buy from a tofu producer in your local Japan/China/other Asian town. If fresh and made well, tofu can taste great as is.

            In case you didn't see the recent tofu thread, I linked it below. Has lots of great ideas...