ISO *TASTY* Tofu Recipes
I'm a life-long dyed-in-the-wool tofu hater but I've come to belive that is due to eating too much "healthy" food prepared by people who believed that, to be healthy, food must taste bad. I'm now over 40 and overweight and thinking I need to improve my diet. I've come to realize that I *do* like some tofu dishes in good, authentic Chinese restaurants so there must be some tofu recipes out there I would like.
I'm willing to give it a go. Any great-tasting tofu recipes out there? Ones that don't mimic meat, please - ie, no "tofurky," "not-dogs," "soysage," or other such abominations.
Tofu comes in almost as many forms as cheese (not quite, but a lot), and they vary in quality too, so don't say you hate the whole category until you've surveyed it all. Check out the tofu article on Wikipedia for the lay of the land.
Here are my favorite recipes from my mom:
Spiced tofu and cilantro salad. You need to find spiced-tofu, which is dry and firm like cooked meat, and brown. (See: http://passionateeater.blogspot.com/2...) Any Asian, particularly Chinese, market should have it. Blanche the tofu and slice into strips. Mince (in order of quantity): cilantro, scallions, garlic (finely), and toss everything with sesame oil, soy sauce, and pepper, a drop of oyster sauce or chili oil optional. That's a two sentence recipe and it's very good.
Tofu tomato salad. Find some half-firm white tofu. Dice: tomato, tofu, avocado. Mince: cilantro, scallion, garlic. Toss with a little sesame oil, soy sauce, pepper. Optional: chili oil, oyster sauce. Very pretty and healthy. Great on summer evenings.
Served straight, with toppings ("hiyayakko"). Not my mom's, but still good. Find silken tofu, which is soft like custard, or egg tofu, also as soft and has eggs added. Serve it directly, washed and chilled, in a single squared block drizzled with a thick soy sauce, lemon juice optional, and various toppings like bonito (dried tuna) shavings, sliced scallions, citrus rind, pickled ginger, etc. Presentation and the right ingredients are important, so you need to have a Japanese market around. Egg tofu is not flavorless, and can be used as a substitute almost anywhere regular tofu is called for if you find regular tofu too bland.
My two favorites:
--Broccoli-Tofu Stir-fry from Cooking Light, served over brown rice. it has this addictive sauce made with garlic and oyster sauce, among other things.
--Szechuan eggplant and tofu from the updated Moosewood cookbook, served over millet. If cooked long enough, the eggplant "melts." If you've ever had the ground chicken and eggplant at PF Chang's, it's sort of like like a healthier version of that.
--Simple soup made with chicken broth, shiitake mushrooms, tofu, green onions, ginger, garlic. No measurements, just taste & smell. :) I've never had it on hand, but adding seaweed would be a good addition, too, I think.
I do prefer firm-extra firm tofu, too--holds together much better and has a more substantial mouth feel/taste, in my opinion. It's even better if you press it first. Freezing then defrosting gives it a chewier, meatier texture as well.
nothing's better than my mom's soon dubu with sliced pork belly, seafood, or sans meat. It's also good in stinky soy bean soup...I think it's called chung guk jang or good in not so stinky daeng jang chigae soup.
Lately though, since it's summer I've been eating a lot of hiyayakko (sp?) tofu. Just cold soft tofu garnished with green onions, ginger, soy sauce, ponzu, etc. I've also eaten it with natto on top (acquired taste) or sliced kimchi, sesame oil, and some soy sauce. Pretty much anything tastes good with tofu...you can even throw in some tomatos and basil for a medditeraenean approach.
I think there is a korean dish out there where you eat slices of firm tofu with lots of sour kimchi. I can't remember ever eating it, but it sounds absolutely heavenly.
the key to eating cold (or raw) tofu is to buy good quality. If it isn't that great, I find that boiling the tofu for a few minutes, then rinsing it with cold water (gently so it doesn't break up) gets rid of any "off" odors.
I'm a 15 year vegan (health reasons) & like great food & cook it. Here is a very good site for tofu recipes: Isa Chandra Moscowitz's Post Punk Kitchen
the trick to tofu is not to overcook it, then you have a nasty eraser thing, just slip it in at the last minute & warm through. Got that tip from a nice Chinese lady.
As already mentioned, you can change the texture of firm tofu to be even firmer by pressing the water out of it. Put between paper or clean kitchen towels and put a weight on top.
You also can freeze sliced firm tofu. When it thaws, lot of the water comes out of it and texture is evern firmer.
Then marinate or brush with soy, chopped ginger and/or garlic, chives, whatever you like. Stir fry.
My absolute favorite way to eat tofu couldn't be much easier. Cut a block into 16-20 pieces. Top with some freshly grated ginger, minced scallions, and katsuo oboshi (dried bonito shavings). Feel free to throw some sambal, if you want. Drizzle some soy sauce over it all, and eat with fresh, hot rice.
There are, at a conserveatvie estimate, 14,786,560 ways of peparing tofu. As other people have noted, tofu has very little taste (except when fresh, if you're lucky enough to have a place that makes fresh tofu, get it).
Other people have noted recipes, cookbooks, etc. but the thing to keep in mind is that tofu is NOT a meat substitute. And meat is NOT a tofu substitute. It is what it is. Tofu can be used from dressings, sauces, desserts, main course, etc, etc. Start experimenting with the style of food that you like to eat (Chinese, French, Italian) and then look up recipes with tofu. Like anything else, the KISS technique is very important. (Alton Brown has an episode that is pretty good.
re: Richard 16
Anything can substitute for anything else. I should been more specific. Veal parmesan is not the same dish as eggplant parmesan in the sense that if you eat eggplant parmesan expecting veal parmesan you will be disappointed. Stir fries can have meat, tofu, fish, etc. but if you eat a tofu stir fry expecting a beef stir fry, you will be disappointed. They are what they are. Eating tofu is good if you're not expecting it to have the taste and texture of something else. It is what it is. The OP should, if he/she wants to, learn to like tofu for what it is.
My korean friend taught me this one - try it if you have access to store-bought kimchi. Drain and dry tofu (as explined by others) in cubes (slightly larger in size than dice is how i do them). In a non-stick pan with a scant spray of pam or a bit of olive oil, sautee a single strip of center-cut bacon, cut into small strips. Add in a little less than a teaspoon of sesame oil, and the tofu. Brown the tofu cubes for about 5-10 minutes. When the tofu is getting brown, add about a cup or more of kimchi. Sautee for an additional 3 to 5 minutes. One store bought block of tofu serves two - and the single stip of bacon and little bit of sesame oil go a long way in flavor without adding too much fat or calories.
I really like Jack Bishop's pan glazed tofu recipes from "A Year in the Vegetarian Kitchen." They are tasty and EASY. He eschews the whole press/drain/marinade routine that I find so frustrating. He just brows the tofu in a pan (about 5 minutes per side) and then adds a sauce in the end that reduces and thickens to glaze the tofu. I could only find one recipe on-line, but he has many in his book. This has made me realize that making tofu doesn't have to be a long, complicated and drawn out endeavor in order to get some flavor.
last night I sliced my extra firm tofu into 1/3" thick sheets and pressed the water out of them for a good 30 min. Then I sliced them into 1/2" thick strips. I gently tossed them with veggie oil, lay them gently and separated on foil sheet, brushed them with hoisin sauce (a guilty pleasure) and toasted them in the toaster oven until sauce was bubbly and tofu looked browned. I tossed these tofu bits on a nice shredded lettuce salad with carrots, cucumbers, cilantro, mint and basil. I dressed it with some diluted fish sauce, siracha, sugar, more hoisin sauce, and lime juice. SCRUMPTIOUS.
Order Deborah Madison' s book "I can't believe it's tofu !" DM cooked at Chez Panisse with Alice Waters years ago and has written many fantastic influential cook books.She says marinating tofu doesn't really penetrate and offers many alternatives to cook the most delicious tofu you will ever eat, including many with meat,
My former cooking teacher said" The only way to eat tofu is stuffed with pork and deep fried."
Grill it! Most of my carnivorous friends have tried and liked grilled tofu. Coat sliced firm tofu with a little bit of olive oil, gril on both sides, and baste with your favorite sauce (BBQ, honey mustard, terryaki, etc.) Also, if you buy the kind that is shrink wrapped (rather than packaged in water) you can skip the draining process. I usually buy the water packed stuff, then pour off the liquid, slice into six pieces, and pat dry with paper towels. Oh, and avoid all of the "baked" flavored tofus. They are super high in sodium.
Zhou chunyi of Beiijing who gives cooking lessons taught me this recipe. It is a favorite in our house.
Cold dofu (dofu in Chinese, tofu in Japanese)
Cut a block of dofu into ½” cubes and boil for five minutes to expel the taste of the coagulant. Then put aside to drain thoroughly and cool.
Sprinkle 3 tablespoons finely chopped green onions over the dofu, which is spread on a plate, not heaped in a bowl. Mix together ½ tsp. salt and 1 tsp. soy and pour over dofu. Then add 1 tsp. sesame oil and mix again.
For non-spicy, add a little peanut oil and serve forth.
For spicy, fry two small dried red chilis and ½ tsp. Sichuan pepper in some peanut oil. Let cool, then pour over dofu. (This oil can also be used with cucumbers, etc.)
As others have metioned tofu has little flavor of its own. A good trick is to marinate it. I use extra firm tofu. The first step is to weight it, place it in an appropriate size dish, put a plate on top, then weight the plate. Every 15 minutes or so pour off the liquid, and reweight the tofu. Depending on the moisture content of your tofu it takes anywhere from 1/2 to 1 hour to get rid of the rather boring tasting moisture. Then marinate in the concoction of your choice. My current favorite is the same I use for Asian beef salad; equal parts of fish sauce and soy sauce, garlic, dark sesame oil, and black pepper. The resulting product is delicious grilled, stir-fried, or deep fried (watch out if you try this as the high moisture content will produce an explosion of spatters when it hits the oil - since you are trying to lose weight you probably won't be deep frying anyway).
Spicy Fried and Simmered Tofu
1 pound firm tofu (or 1 nearest size container)
cooking oil (vegetable or blended soy bean/sesame oil)
1/4 cup soy sauce
1 1/2 teaspoons sesame oil
1 tablespoon sugar (or 1/2 teaspoon sugar substitute)
6 cloves peeled garlic
2 1/2 tablespoon fine or medium ground red chile pepper
2 green onions, thinly sliced
1 teaspoon toasted sesame seeds
1 fresh red chili or jalapeño pepper
Drain tofu for about 20 minutes.
Cut into roughly 1/2 inch thick slices and pat each slice dry with paper towel.
Mix Simmer Sauce
Place soy sauce and garlic into a blender and blend into a smooth liquid.
Add all sauce ingredients to a medium mixing bowl and mix well.
Trim top and bottom of the green onions, and remove any wilted/brown stems.
Fine chop the onion.
Remove stem from pepper, wash, and cut into fine slivers.
Pre heat a large skillet/pan lightly coated with cooking oil.
Add the tofu and fry until lightly browned (about 2 to 3 minutes)
Gently turn and brown the other side.
Remove tofu from skillet/pan.
Pour simmer sauce into pan and bring to a light boil over high heat.
Reduce heat to low and gently add fried tofu.
Simmer for 3 to 4 minutes, occaisionaly spooning the sauce over the tofu.
Garnish with green onion, pepper, and toasted sesame seed.