Marinading fried tofu? Yay?/Nay?
Hello Chowhound! (My first post!)
So I've been veg for seven years, but am still totally afraid of cooking tofu. I've recently discovered and have fallen in love with Hodo Soy (the brand) Tofu Nuggets. It seems they work best if they are stir fried in a mostly dry pan, with maybe a few vegetables and a bit of oil. If I recall correctly, when I have tried to simmer them in a sauce, they became all big and puffy! (Is that even possible? Did I dream that?)
Anyway, so the question is: Can I marinade pre-fried tofu to use in a stir-fry? If so, is there anything else I should do to ensure the texture is reasonably desirable? For that matter, any recommendations on cooking pre-fried tofu would be graciously appreciated. Thanks!
tldr: Can I marinade pre-fried tofu?
For any kind of tofu "nugget" avoid soaking in a sauce- the outer coating will become soggy and the insides will be wet and change the texture- aka gross. For a stir fry i buy an extra firm regular block of tofu ( i love wildwood best, trader joes "high protein" firm tofu is great also) and then i press out extra water- tofu ontop of paper towels and plate, paper towels ontop, then another plate with cans or whatever to weight it down, min time half hour i usually do in the morning and leave in fridge for dinner. Then chop and add to marinade, half hour min and use in stirfry. Soyboy (east coast) makes a great firm smoked tofu that my cheeseaholic omni friend even loves, and both soyboy and wildwood sell marinated flavored tofus that you would just need to chop and toss into a stirfry as is
I have heard great reviews of it actually! I have been veg for um..... More than two decades now and just got used to the weight it down method. And i live in an nyc studio so storage is a premium.
I actually found that the "high protein" tofu from trader joes (sold vacuum packed) is fine as is, no pressing and has a nice mild flavor. I buy their "soy vay" to use as a marinade often, nice blend of sesame and soy.
I don't eat much fake meat anymore but my friend loves the trader joes "chicken" strips in the fridge section
Great tips. Thanks!
I know ALL about Lilliputian NYC kitchens, having snaked in and out of the same narrow crawl-space for thirty-five years! Became a vegetarian the year after I moved in.
I need to expand my horizons at Trader Joe's. Not a fan of shopping in general, but the layout of my local Joe's is so chaotic and crazy-making that I usually dash in, grab almonds and raisins, and BOLT. Next time, I'll make a point of tracking down that tofu.
Ok, so this is not an answer to your actual question, but you said you only recently started cooking tofu, so I figured you might find this helpful :)
My favorite tofu recipe ever comes from The Grit Restaurant cookbook - from my favorite vegetarian restaurant - if you are ever within 100 miles of Athens, GA, you MUST go :)
I've posted their Golden Bowl recipe on BigOven (link below) - the whole recipe is fantastic, but the tofu-cooking instructions are great for a lot of different meals; I use the same method to make tofu for Caesar salads.
Here's the link - the secret to getting the tofu to be a little chewy, but not too chewy, is the double-cooking, and letting it cool in between, and also not using much oil to cook it in, only about a teaspoon each time.
I think you'll just make the outer fried part leathery if you marinade the nuggets, and very little flavor will get inside. If you buy the big fried slab and cut it in slices, that would work in a marinade, but you'd still make the fried edges leathery (or leatherier than they already are).
In most places, like Indonesia, where deep fried tofu is commonly used, they don't do much more to it. It's sliced or chopped and added at the end of a dish. IMO, regular unfried tofu works better for stir-fries, soups, and anything else where you want to tofu to pick up flavor.
I think a mistake a lot of tofu newbies make is to start out with silken tofu, which is delicate and easily crumbles or dissolves, even when you get the firm kind. It's much easier to get started with the kind of tofu called "cotton tofu" (lǎo doufu in Chinese, or momen-dofu in Japanese). White Wave makes a good version. This kind also works super well with marinades.
My favorite marinated tofu is from the Cabbagetown Cookbook (not really marinated at all, but great for salads, sandwiches, etc):
"Marinated" Tofu (from Cabbagetown Cookbook)
2 Tbs light vegetable oil
1 lb tofu cut in bite-size cubes (2 cups)
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
Freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp dried dill or 2 Tbs fresh
1 tsp dark sesame oil
2 tsp tamari or soy sauce (I use low sodium)
Heat the oil and add tofu cubes. Fry for about 10 minutes, stirring frequently so nothing sticks. Add the garlic, black pepper, dill, and cayenne. Fry 5 minutes more, stirring constantly. Stir in the dark sesame oil and soy sauce and remove from heat.