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Help with tofu

I'm going to be cooking supper at the local Salvation Army (inspired by another Chowhound) once a week for the next few weeks. They have asked that I make a tofu dish for approximatly 200 people. The house cook has never worked with tofu and they figure that since I'm a chef... Now I've never worked all that much with tofu. I am also looking for something that will appeal to your average Canadian. Recipes welcome, or just idea's.

Thank you all.

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  1. Tofu is more platable for non-eaters of it when it has a lot of texture. There are four ways to increase the texture:

    1 - pressing for an hour
    2 - boiling for about 5 minutes (cube first)
    3 - deep frying cubes
    4 - freezing

    When the tofu is ready, it benefits greatly with a marinade.

    To better provide recipes, could you please list some of the ingredients you have to work with (or can I assume that you'll have shoyu, vinegars, coconut milk etc?) I'd likely go with a sweet and sour, peanut, or thai coconut mixture.

    1. I'd suggest making a big pot of soon tofu (soup). There's a recipe on this site http://www.koreankitchen.com/ but I haven't tried it. Hopefully someone can post links to other good recipes (paging hannaone).

      I've had soon tofu made with chicken rather than pork or beef; lighter and probably less expensive. One of the great anticipations is being served this soup literally just simmering in a stone bowl (not that you have those available, but you get the idea :-).

      9 Replies
      1. re: DiveFan

        This recipe for soondubu jjigae from "My Korean Kitchen" is pretty good:

        http://mykoreankitchen.com/2006/11/29...

        But soon dubu for 200 could be a royal pain.

        I'll post a few tofu recipes to give the op some ideas to play with

        1. re: hannaone

          Golden Fried Tofu

          Ingredients
          2 pounds firm tofu
          1 1/2 tablespoon Sesame cooking oil

          Coating Mix
          1/4 cup flour
          1/4 cup sweet rice flour
          1/4 cup cornstarch
          1 teaspoon black pepper
          1 teaspoon salt
          1 teaspoon fresh minced garlic or garlic powder
          1 sheet pressed seaweed (nori)
          1/2 teaspoon fine ground red chili powder

          Optional Toppings

          Honey
          Butter

          Dip

          2 tablespoons Soy Sauce
          2 tablespoons water
          1 teaspoon toasted/roasted sesame oil
          1 teaspoon sugar
          1 teaspoon rice wine or seasoned vinegar

          Garnish

          Chopped Chives
          Chopped Green/Spring Onion
          Toasted Sesame seed

          Directions:

          Preparation

          Coating Mix
          Crumble the seaweed sheet into small flakes.
          Mix all coating ingredients in a medium mixing bowl.

          Tofu
          Rinse well in cold water. Set tofu on a clean lint free kitchen towel and place a weight (juice or soup can in a plate) on top. Let stand for 20 minutes.
          Cut into roughly 3/4 inch cubes.
          Thoroughly coat tofu cubes with coating mix.

          Cooking

          Lightly coat a flat fry pan with oil and heat over medium high for one minute.
          Place a single layer of coated tofu cubes in the pan and fry until golden brown on all sides.
          Repeat until all tofu is cooked.

          Serve hot drizzled with butter or honey as a snack, or room temperature, garnished with chopped chives or green onion and a sweetened soy dipping sauce as a Ban Chan dish.

        2. re: DiveFan

          Dubuseon 두부선- Fancy Steamed Tofu
          Alternate Spelling: Dubu Seon, doobooseon, dooboo seon, tubuseon, tubu seon

          Ingredients

          1 block water packed bean curd (dubu/tofu)
          6 ounces ground beef or chicken
          2 eggs

          Seasoning Mix
          2 teaspoon salt
          1 teaspoon sugar
          2 scallions or spring onions
          4 cloves garlic
          1 teaspoon sesame oil
          1 teaspoon toasted sesame seeds
          1/4 teaspoon black pepper

          Mustard Vinegar Sauce (gyeoja-chojang 겨자초장):
          5 tablespoons mustard powder
          2 1/2 tablespoons warm water
          1 tablespoon pine nuts
          3 tablespoons sugar
          3 tablespoons vinegar
          1/4 teaspoon soy sauce
          1/4 small Korean (asian/nashi) pear
          1/3 teaspoon citron honey concentrate

          Garnish (gomyeong 고명):
          1 egg
          2 pyogo (shiitake) mushrooms
          4 seogi mushrooms (석이버섯 manna lichen, stone ear)
          1 teaspoon pine nuts
          2 Korean chili peppers

          Directions

          Preparation:

          Seasoning Mix:
          Fine chop the scallion/spring onion and mince the garlic.
          Mix all ingredients together and let stand 15 minutes.

          Press the Tofu:
          Place tofu on a clean, lint free kitchen towel, and place a second towel on top of the tofu.
          Place a weight (small plate with a 16 - 20 ounce can of xxx) on top of the tofu, and let drain for about 45 minutes.
          Place drained tofu into a mixing bowl and mash.

          Meat:
          Place ground beef/chicken into a mixing bowl and add seasoning mix.
          Mix well, then let stand 15 minutes.

          Garnish:
          Mushrooms:
          Soak dried pyogo mushrooms in cold water for about 24 hours.
          Thin slice the pyogo and seogi mushrooms.

          Eggs:
          Separate the egg yolk from the white and whip each.
          Pan-fry the yolk until lightly browned on both sides, let cool, then slice into about 1/4 inch wide strips. cut the strips into about 1 inch lengths.
          Repeat with egg white.

          Peppers:
          Slice the Korean chili pepper into thin slivers about 1 inch long.

          Pine Nuts:
          Cut pine nuts in half.

          Mustard Vinegar Sauce:
          Mix the warm water and the mustard powder together and let stand for 15 minutes for flavor to develop.
          Using a mortar and pestle, mash the pear (or toss into a blender with one or two teaspoons water).
          Rough chop the pine nuts.
          Mix all ingredients together and let stand for at least 20 minutes.

          Final
          Add the mashed dubu(tofu) and eggs to the seasoned meat and mix well.
          Place wet cheese cloth in a steamer tray and spread the tofu/egg/meat mix in an even layer (about 1/3 inch deep).
          Place the mushrooms, egg strips, slivered peppers, and pine nuts on top of the bean curd, then steam over high heat for 10 minutes.
          Let it cool, cut into roughly 1 inch squares, and serve with mustard sauce

            1. re: pikawicca

              It's pretty good.
              Here is a pic of one version of this dish -

              https://www.cjonmart.net:7001/upload/...

              1. re: hannaone

                Very pretty. I'm going to have to try this.

          1. re: DiveFan

            Spicy Fried and Simmered Tofu
            Ingredients

            1 pound firm tofu (or 1 nearest size container)
            cooking oil (vegetable or blended soy bean/sesame oil)

            Simmer Sauce
            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

            Garnish
            2 green onions, thinly sliced
            1 teaspoon toasted sesame seeds
            1 fresh red chili or jalapeño pepper

            Preparation

            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.

            Garnish
            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.

            Cooking

            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, occasionally spooning the sauce over the tofu.

            Garnish with green onion, pepper, and toasted sesame seed.

            1. re: DiveFan

              두부전 Dubujeon - Pan-fried Tofu
              Servings: 4

              Ingredients

              1 pound block medium or firm tofu
              Egg Batter
              Flour Dredge Mix
              vegetable oil for frying

              Egg Batter
              2 eggs
              2 cloves garlic
              2 green onions
              1/4 teaspoon salt

              Flour Dredge Mix
              1/4 cup flour
              1 tablespoon rice flour
              1 tablespoon potato starch

              Sauce
              2 teaspoons soy sauce
              1 1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
              1 1/2 teaspoon Korean chili pepper powder (use more or less to taste)
              1 small green or spring onion
              1/2 teaspoon toasted sesame seeds

              Directions

              Preparation
              Press the Tofu:
              Place tofu on a clean, lint free kitchen towel, and place a second towel on top of the tofu.
              Place a weight (small plate with a 16 - 20 ounce can of xxx) on top of the tofu, and let drain for about 45 minutes.
              Slice the tofu in half lenthwise, then slice each half into 6 pieces.
              Egg Batter
              Fine chop the green onion.
              Mince the garlic.
              Whip the chopped onion, minced garlic, and salt into the eggs.
              Sauce
              Fine chop the green/spring onion.
              Combine all the sauce ingredients and mix well.

              Cooking:
              Lightly oil a frying pan and heat over medium heat.
              Dredge the tofu slices in the flour mix, then dip in the egg mixture and place them in the pan.
              Cook until golden brown on one side, flip and cook until golden brown on the other side.
              Pour remaing egg mixture into the pan and spread in a thin layer.
              Cook until lightly browned then flip and finish the other side.
              Slice the egg into thin strips and garnish the tofu.
              Drizzle with the sauce and serve.

            2. Agreed about lots of texture. Frying seems to please the highest percentage of hesitant eaters.

              Buy extra firm, with lowest water content
              http://www.sysco.com/products/Product...

              Don't buy the pre-fried; it's just not as good.

              I'd watch a few of these vids:
              http://video.google.com/videosearch?q...

              and plan a robust dish with lots of umami. For example: fried tofu cutlets served like small medallion steaks, draped with a sauce of peanut butter and dark sesame oil, garlic, etc.

              I've tried for many years to introduce people to tofu, and have found that the closer it is to a piece of meat that can be eaten with a knife and fork, the better it is received by newbies. For tofu lovers who want to use chopsticks it's a whole better game.

              http://images.google.com/images?gbv=2...

              God forbid I hope you're not being asked to serve this to the assembled members of the Red Green Lodge. Good luck.

              1. Good for you for volunteering!

                The tofu with lemon, soy, ginger, butter and white wine from Berley's Flexitarian Table is my go to tofu dish. It's pretty easy and everyone loves it. I don't know how hard it would be to prepare for 200, but it sure is delcious. Here's a paraphrase http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/4341...

                ~TDQ

                1 Reply
                1. re: The Dairy Queen

                  You can always fry it up with some veggies (zucchini, peppers, onions, mushrooms) and a few packages of Mexican type seasonings and serve with tortillas and sour cream

                2. wow, cooking for 200 and trying to appeal to the 'average' Canadian can be a bit tricky - tho must say that I think Cdns are a pretty open-minded bunch gastronomically speaking. as much as I love spice, I'd stay with tamer dishes for broader appeal, and to make it less labour-intensive for yourself dispense with dishes that require a lot of advance prep ie. pre frying the tofu which can be very time-consuming (i do this every two weeks when my tofu is about to go bad and I can't stand how long it takes to fry up).

                  I'd recommend Ma Po Tofu, which is very easy and has always been a hit when I've made it for a crowd - good by itself or over rice, you can adjust the heat and play with the flavours: make it sweet, sour, hot, more-or-less-soy-ish - here are several takes on the dish:

                  http://bitten.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/...

                  photo: http://rasamalaysia.com/recipe-ma-po-...
                  photo: http://www.chow.com/photos/156761

                  you can also find recipes elsewhere on chowhound:

                  1. I would try to keep it fairly simple. My first thought runs to Pad Thai because you can easily prep the sauce ahead and soak the noodles so you are left with veg and assembly. However with out knowing the rest of the ingredients you have to work with it's a bit of a challenge.
                    I will offer this. If you do opt to pan fry tofu use extra -firm if that's an option and
                    non-stick pans.
                    Since you need to appeal to Canadians my humorous side says cover the tofu with frys and gravy! ;)

                    1 Reply
                    1. I did Pad Thai last week. They were not to "up" for asian food. This week I'm doing a tofu stirfry.

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: bigfellow

                        I think it's so great that you are doing this.
                        Can you use dairy? If you are dealing with non-tofu eaters, you might want to try to introduce it in foods they are probably familiar to like:

                        Tofu Parmigiana
                        http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/Tofu-Par...

                        Tofu Lasagna :
                        http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/Tofu-Las...

                        Tofu Cacciatore:
                        http://www.recipezaar.com/Tofu-Caccia...

                      2. Salad rolls or spring rolls, filled with marinated, baked tofu, pea shoots and grated carrots. Or more veggies if you want. Super-easy. Dipping sauce on the side.

                        1. This recipe was in the local paper several years ago, and the link isn't available any longer. It was a restaurant recipe requested in the food section. I have doubled and tripled the recipe with no problems, so I'd think it is infinitely expandable.

                          DAU HU CA
                          (Tofu stir-fried with mixed vegetables in a tomato sauce)

                          Nonstick cooking spray
                          Vegetable oil
                          1 (1- to 1.25-pound) cube firm tofu, cut into 1-inch cubes
                          2 cloves fresh garlic, crushed
                          1 whole tomato, diced
                          2 to 3 cups mixed vegetables (such as thinly sliced white onion and green onion, broccoli, bamboo shoots, snow peas, sliced carrots)
                          1 teaspoon salt
                          1 tablespoon granulated sugar
                          1/4 cup ketchup (Mai Lee uses Heinz)
                          1 tablespoon rice wine
                          Hot cooked rice

                          Coat skillet with nonstick cooking spray. Add enough vegetable oil to coat bottom. Fry tofu in skillet until golden brown. This will take about 15 minutes.
                          Drain cubes of tofu on paper towels. Set aside.
                          In clean skillet, heat 1 teaspoon vegetable oil until hot. Add garlic and tomato. Saute about 1 minute.
                          Add vegetables. Stir-fry until vegetables are cooked almost to desired doneness.
                          Stir in salt, sugar, ketchup and rice wine. Stir-fry for another 2 to 4 minutes.
                          Add fried tofu; cook and stir until tofu is heated through and has absorbed some of the sauce. Serve with rice.

                          Yield: 2 to 3 servings.

                          1. Good for you! How'd it go last week? I'm afraid I don't have a clue what would appeal to the average Canadian (or the average American for that matter), but I do know people love this peanut soup whenever I make it. It includes silken tofu (which no one would know if I didn't tell them) and is absolutely delicious. I sometimes make it a little thicker and serve it as a sauce over brown rice and broccoli. LOVE it. (In fact, thanks for reminding me it's time to make it again!) Here's the link on epicurious: http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/foo...

                            10 Replies
                            1. re: miss louella

                              Last week I made a thai noodle tofu salad, but they hated it.

                              1. re: bigfellow

                                If and when you want to try tofu again, let us know what kind of ingredients you have to work with. I'm sure that we can create a dish that is more mainstream and western.

                                1. re: alwayscooking

                                  I made tofu meatballs (something is just wrong with that statement!) last night with a combination of ground tofu, VWG, bread crumbs soaked in milk, and herbs and spices. Deep-fried and then cooked in tomato sauce and served with pasta. [Patting myself on the back] They were pretty good - but then deep frying improves most things.

                                  1. re: alwayscooking

                                    I don't know what they have until I arrive.

                                    I just try my best.

                                    1. re: bigfellow

                                      And they must be delighted to have you.

                                      I'm not sure how much time you have to cook (eg freezing and defrosting tofu or marinating it). So next time you're faced with tofu, cube it, dust it with flour of any sort and deep fry. Add any kind of strongly flavored sauce (from Italian to Thai) and some sauteed vegetables, serve with a starch, and make up a name - tofu ala bigfellow! Also remember that tofu cooked with any kind of meat will absorb the fats and flavor of the meat and extend it.

                                      1. re: bigfellow

                                        Yikes! No idea what they have until you get there? I'm sure, as a chef, you have lots of ideas ready to roll, but do you at least get to bring a laptop for emergency internet help? If so, seems like that would make things much much easier. If not, it would be an impossible task for me. Good luck and let us know if there's anything (besides sending you ways to disguise/use tofu) else we can do to help.

                                        1. re: miss louella

                                          I do this for a living. I work as an executive chef normally. No internet connection there. It is a shelter.

                                          1. re: bigfellow

                                            I wonder if any one has tried spinach pies with Tofu instead of the feta?

                                            1. re: Fritter

                                              yes! it was great- you just have to makes sure you season to taste...

                                              Also have made:
                                              Moussaka: silken soy for bechamel
                                              Penne vodka: silken soy for cream

                                  2. re: bigfellow

                                    that must have been totally disappointing. Are you also making dessert? Maybe a pudding made with silken tofu would be a safer bet...

                                2. Can't resist posting this item that I saw in the paper (Chi Trib or NYT, don't remember which) on 5-13. A lady wanting to advertise her vegetarianism requested a vanity license plate reading ILOVETOFU. It was refused by a clerk believing that the T, O, F, U stood for a naughty message. Too funny.

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: Querencia

                                    I read that too. You'd think she would have thought ahead. I wonder if TOFU LVR was already taken.

                                  2. I'm not a fan of deep frying (too much waste/too calorific) and prefer to high heat bake tofu for maximum crispyness. This is a recipe for peanut noodles with oven fried tofu turned the teenaged "i hate (though have never tried) tofu" kids into fans.

                                    Peanut Noodles with Crispy Oven Fried Tofu

                                    Serves 4 to 6

                                    For the sauce:
                                    ¼ cup chunky peanut butter
                                    2 medium cloves garlic ,minced
                                    1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
                                    1/4 c. soy sauce
                                    2 tablespoons rice vinegar
                                    1 teaspoon hot pepper sauce
                                    2 1/2 Tablespoons packed light brown sugar
                                    3-5 Tablespoons hot tap water

                                    5 oz. firm or extra firm tofu (1/2 a 10 oz. pkg.) drained
                                    ½ c. all purpose flour
                                    ½ tsp. salt
                                    1 egg, scrambled
                                    ½ tsp. sesame oil
                                    ½ c. Panko Bread Crumbs
                                    ½ tsp. salt
                                    Black pepper

                                    1/2 8 oz. pkg. rice nooles (pho)
                                    2 Tbs. Vegetable oil
                                    3 scallions, sliced thin and on the bias

                                    Noodles:
                                    Bring 3 quarts water to boil in stockpot over high heat. Place rice noodles in large bowl then pour boiling water atop. Drain after softened, about 5 minutes, then rinse under cold water.

                                    Tofu
                                    Preheat oven to 425. Line a sheet pan with foil and place in preheating oven.

                                    Pat tofu dry, then dice into ¾ inch cubes.

                                    Combine flour with ½ tsp. salt and place onto clean, dry plate. Scramble egg with 1 ½ tsp sesame oil in small bowl and set aside. On another plate, combine Panko, salt and pepper. Dip each slice of tofu into the flour, then egg, then breadcrumbs, coating all sides. Salt and pepper outside of tofu. Pull sheet pan from oven and spray foil with nonstick spray. Place tofu onto preheated pan and spray tops of tofu with non-stick spray. Place in oven and bake until brown on all sides for 20 minutes, turning once half-way through.

                                    Sauce
                                    In blender puree remaining peanut butter, garlic, ginger, soy sauce, vinegar, hot sauce, and sugar until smooth, about 30 seconds. With machine running, add 1 tablespoon at time until sauce has consistency of heavy cream; pour into small container and set aside.

                                    Finish
                                    Heat large, non-stick sauté pan over medium high heat. Add 1 Tbs. vegetable oil, then drained noodles. Add sauce and stir to coat. Once cooked and warmed through, add scallions and crispy tofu, tossing carefully so that tofu doesn’t break. Serve immediately.

                                    1. Tofu is _great_ when deep fried. I've used it that way in soups, stews, etc and it has a great texture and not at all greasy. I have even made fake Chicken Paprikas with it for my vegetarian friends, to great acclaim (leaving out the chicken and broth of course, using light veggie broth instead). I liked it so much that sometimes when I make regular Chicken Paprikas I'll include some fried tofu in there as well. I think even my Grandma would approve.
                                      Given the Mongol influence in Hungarian history, it's not even that un-authentic. LOL.

                                      1. Made the tofu stir fry yesterday. It went over well...except for the fact that rebell against tofu in general.

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: bigfellow

                                          i find i have to "sneak" tofu in---i've made chocolate tofu pudding pie much to my kids delight (before they found out it was tofu)...after that, they pretty much got over the ick factor tofu has (for reason's i have yet to understand: you'll eat a muscle from a cow/pig/chicken before you'll eat beans?)