Think tofu is just a bland meat substitute reserved for vegans? Think again. Our handy guide to buying tofu will demystify this essential Asian ingredient to ensure you buy the right tofu every time. We’ll also show you how to cook with this virtuous, protein-packed soy product, sharing six Asian tofu recipes that will convert even the most committed carnivore.
Prepared in a similar way to dairy cheese, block tofu is made by boiling, curdling and then pressing coagulated soybean milk into blocks – the more the curds are pressed, the more whey is released and the firmer the tofu will be.
Soft pressed tofu is ideal for purees, soups and deep-frying; medium is a better choice for stir-fries as it can hold its shape; and versatile firm tofu can be used for deep-frying, glazing, boiling, baking or pan-frying. Look for packages that are well sealed and within the use-by date.
Made by coagulating soy milk without curdling it, this un-pressed tofu has the highest moisture content. The result is a smooth texture, mild flavour and the most delicate consistency.
Soft silken tofu can be blended into smoothies for added protein, used to make creamy vegan salad dressings, or battered and fried for a crunchy exterior and meltingly soft centre. Firmer styles of silken tofu can be boiled, battered or pan-fried. As silken tofu has a shorter shelf life than pressed tofu, buy it shortly before you plan to use it, and throw it out if it develops an orange film.
Tofu also comes in a range of tempting flavours and fried styles. Add fluffy fried tofu puffs to your favourite Malaysian laksa, which soak up all of that robust coconut broth, or use flavoured tofus in soups or stir-fries. Inari are sweet, deep-fried pockets of tofu that are popular in Japan, where they’re filled with vinegared sushi rice and served as inari sushi.
Try: Laksa seafood soup
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