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Firm Tofu [Split from Manhattan board]

Well, I've never had a chance to try a vacuum-packed tofu, but I've also been frustrated with tofu falling apart in stir fry. I'll be watching this thread to see if anyone has suggestions.

Something to try could be freezing it. I have found that freezing tofu does help to change the consistency to something a bit more hardy, in case you're interested in another possible solution.

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  1. freezing, and defrosting, completely changes the structure and creates almost a flat spongey effect, which makes it very hardy in stir-fries, but you gotta like the texture, which, I totally like. otherwise, if you want the firm stuff, you may have to get the smoked or seasoned stuff (usually a light or dark brown exterior, smaller pieces) which can be julienned or whatnot for stirfries. available at any chinese market, don't think there's any western brands with it.

    29 Replies
    1. re: bigjeff

      Yeah, that is beehive tofu. I usually freeze the firm one. It works really well to absorb sauces or have them in hotpots when your stock gets rich.

      I usually get the firm tofu at the chinese market and don't find it to be a problem. But when I cook with it is usually comes close to the last thing I put in the wok and try not to play around with it too much.

      The dark brown one is spiced and pressed. There is also a sweet one that is sold in dry thin sheets (rectangular and small).

      1. re: designerboy01

        "There is also a sweet one that is sold in dry thin sheets (rectangular and small)."

        Are you talking about bean curd sheets?

        I find that you can find the firm plain tofu. It may take some looking, though.

        1. re: Miss Needle

          Its something similar to that but they call it teem fu jook (cantonese) which translates to sweet bean curd. I never ate it outside in a restaurant. Its in small rectangular dry wafers that are light brown. I use to cook it in a dragon fish stew. Just ask the shop keeper. Sometimes the older Cantonese supermarkets should have them, like Po Wing Hong on Elizabeth street between Hester and Canal Street in NY's Chinatown. Other shops may carry it, I usually just ask.

          Sorry, that may be a little off topic. I don't know why I always include that when I think of tofu aside that it is also made from soybeans.

          1. re: designerboy01

            Ok. You've got me on the teem fu jook. I've never heard of it. I'll be on the lookout for it next time I'm in C-town.

            1. re: Miss Needle

              Its just one of the ingredients in cooking. I never used it as the main star but its sometimes a nice supporting actor in a stew.

                1. re: designerboy01

                  Don't think I've seen it before. Is the tofu really sweet? And if it is, how sweet?

                  1. re: Miss Needle

                    I don't think sugar when I eat it after cooking it in sauces. Its not really noticeable. Its just not salty. I'm still discovering things in the supermarket myself. Especially the old ones. I sometimes feel we also lose knowledge for every new generation. Some of the markets stop stocking these things because no one is aware of it or don't know how to use them.

                    1. re: Miss Needle

                      Thanks, DB and BJ.

                      That article is really a keeper. You should post it on the General Topics board so that others can see it.

              1. re: Miss Needle

                doing a little snooping, found a post to this link:

                http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article...

                the pictures and text chart are cool.

                1. re: bigjeff

                  Yeah you can do a lot with soy. Actually, the other one I don't see in the picture is water tofu (the one that is usually eaten for dessert and mixed with sugar) which can be made as a main dish. I once had it at a restaurant and it was served Yin Yang. Half of it was mixed with tiny shrimp in a egg white sauce and the other half mixed with spinach. When you mix it into rice it makes it silky. Good summer dish.

                  1. re: designerboy01

                    You know, more I think about it, I think that water tofu is the same tofu they use for soon tofu chigae in Korean restaurants.

                      1. re: designerboy01

                        You know, I saw soon tofu packaged in a tube (like they sell in Korean markets) at a Chinese market last week. It was called "egg tofu." What do Chinese people use that for?

                        1. re: Miss Needle

                          Actually, I never saw that product in the Chinese market. I did see it in the Korean market. Which market is it in?

                          1. re: designerboy01

                            I mentioned the market to you in a different post. I don't remember the name, but it's in Flushing, on Main between Maple and Franklin (?). I didn't inspect the tube thoroughly, but I do believe there was Chinese writing on it.

                            1. re: Miss Needle

                              Funny, I was just there the other day checking out the Bingrae Ice Bars on sale. I'm starting to like that supermarket. I'll check it out.

                          2. re: Miss Needle

                            I was at the market today still eyeing those Bingrae Ice Bars on sale. Boy they are clearing out fast.

                            I did see the tube tofu and the package says to cut and fry. I've never used this product before, but maybe I'll give it a try.

                            1. re: designerboy01

                              Cut and fry? Interesting. Please report back if you do!

                              1. re: Miss Needle

                                I was shopping with Mom and I stumbled into this again in another market. Mom briefed me and said she had this before in Vancouver. It seems to be a popular Dim Sum dish and dish is called Little Jade Tofu. She also told me she had it when she was younger with a crab white sauce. I made Mom a deal and said I would cook her dinner if she let me cook. I learned a lot already but I don't have all the moves that Mom has. So I made it tonight. I didn't go quite fancy but I just cut and fried and made a simple sauce with oyster sauce and threw in some scallions. Its not bad as another type of tofu dish, but I think I would add something more crunch like Chinese celery next time. You can get creative and add something like Virginia Ham or Chinese sausages. Or if you really want to get fancy you can probably fry the slice tofu and put sea urchin on top. Its limitless and it depends on your creativity. I usually like to stick with tradition and stick with the tried and true way.

                                The texture of the tofu is suppose to be really smooth. But I can usually get a smooth consistency just by steaming scrambled eggs and water. The ratio of the water will make it smooth.

                                What do Koreans do with it since I noticed it in Hanareum too?

                                1. re: designerboy01

                                  Interesting about the tofu. I've never seen that dish at dim sum. Thinking about it some more, I think I've had that soft tofu in that Chinese dish with shrimp, tofu, and peas. I really dig the custardy texture.

                                  I think Koreans only use it for soon tofu casserole. But my dad also likes to put it in daen jang jigae (soy bean paste casserole -- funkier version of miso) and chung gook jang (natto casserole) instead of the traditional tofu.

                                  1. re: Miss Needle

                                    Egg tofu is different from soon doobu. Egg tofu has egg mixed into it, so the texture is more gelatinous than regular tofu. Soon doobu is just soft regular tofu. The two often come in similar packaging, but they're definitely not the same.

                                    1. re: Humbucker

                                      Thanks for the explanation! I didn't realize egg tofu had egg in it. Just thought they called it that because it had the texture of an egg custard.

                                    2. re: Miss Needle

                                      I know the dish you are talking about with the tofu, shrimp, and peas. I didn't make the connection that it was from tube tofu. The tube tofu is a modern product but mixing eggs and tofu has been around for a long time.

                                      Makes a good diet Cheese Wiz too. :)

                                      1. re: designerboy01

                                        Yeah, I had some of that last night -- needed to eat something on the blander side.

                                      2. re: Miss Needle

                                        I was eating at a Cantonese restaurant this weekend across the street from Sweet and Tart and saw the tube tofu on the menu. I thought of you and also ordered it out of curiosity. It was served sliced and with a whole scallop on top. They cooked it with a egg white sauce. The whole dish was surrounded by Chinese Greens. Its a good dish to order when your dinner is complemented with strong flavors. I forgot the English name of the restaurant, but this place is pretty good value in Flushing for Cantonese.

                                        1. re: designerboy01

                                          Nice to know that a quivering hunk of tofu makes you think of me! ; )

                                          It sounds pretty good. With the exception of that shrimp, tofu and pea dish, I've never seen it on a menu -- but I guess I haven't been looking for it.

                                2. re: Miss Needle

                                  miss needle
                                  not sure if u have been answered re. 'tofu in the tube'
                                  but i use this product for in all recipes where i need to reduce oil quantities or increase protein content; eg: pesto/mayo, pasta sauce, smoothies, baked goods, omelette's,
                                  there is an eggless option too

                                  1. re: divya

                                    Thanks for telling me about your use of the tofu. It sounds similar to how a lot of people use silken tofu. But I think this tofu is a bit better than silken for the things you are describing.

                  2. Have you tried the Nasoya Extra Firm? If you drain it really well (between paper towels with a weight on it like a cast iron pan or pot) and marinate it, it holds together pretty well in stir-fries, for us anyway. Then, you have other brands like MoriNu that say "firm" but they are so custard-like, which is okay for some dishes but not for stir-fry...amazing how different tofus can be.

                    1. Pressed tofu has the density of a brick. It's usually vacuum-packed. It generally holds up pretty well for stir-frying. Here in L.A., you can buy them seasoned or unseasoned. And as designerboy01 noted, it should probably be the last thing you put in the wok.

                      Other types of tofu are not really meant for stir-frying. Even the firm types fall apart. They are often used in soups and for braised dishes. The soft types fall apart regardless of how you cook them.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: raytamsgv

                        firm tofu in home cooking is first drained, cut into squares, patted dry with paper towel, and then lightly pan seared on all sides and then set aside to be added back to the stir fry. It may be a little labor intensive but its texture and taste isn't the same as using the harder pressed tofu. Another method is to dip the cut up pieces first into a beaten egg, then rolled in flour/salt/pepper powder, then lightly fried in plenty of oil, and then set aside to be added to the stir fry, or eaten as is.

                      2. One thing you can do is press it. Buy firm tofu, then what I usually do if I don't want it to crumble (though sometimes I can't be bothered), is I set the tofu in a colander in a bowl, put a plate on top, then put weights on top. You'd be surprised at how much water it exudes!

                        If I really want firm tofu, I might let the tofu sit like this in the fridge overnight or all day, but usually, even while prepping the other ingredients helps.

                        1. If you salt the tofu before cooking it, it will fall apart less or not at all.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: Humbucker

                            I am another fan of the Nasoya X firm tofu (it even comes pre-cut in cubes).

                            And what HLing says is absolutely correct - OP: what is your technique for stif-frying tofu? You should lightly pan sear it, keep it aside, and then add it to the finished stir fry (rather than attempting to stir fry it) if you want to minimize falling apart.