DFW Vegetarian and buying, then cooking with tofu.

Buying, Baking, and Cooking with Tofu

By Terry Jensen

The more tofu is pressed, the firmer it becomes, and the more nutrients it contains. When you buy soft tofu, you are buying less soy and more water--normally for the same price.

Tofu

It's hard to cook vegetarian without encountering tofu in the kitchen. In order to cook tofu that is edible, however, you have to buy it correctly.

Buying Tofu

Usually your first experiences with tofu are disastrous unless you buy it at an Asian store or a specialty store like Whole Foods. The major supermarkets in DFW carry brands of tofu that make you vow never to cook it again. One exception is Sack N Save, which normally carries Banyon brand of tofu. I have not seen it there recently.

If you use tofu in stews, stir-fries, grilled dishes, or sautés, buy Chinese-style tofu in tubs of water. It is solid or cut in four pieces. It floats in water.

Do not buy tofu at Kroger or Albertson's. You set yourself up for a failed recipe.

Buy firm or extra firm tofu. Firm tofu is normally in a red package.

If you are using tofu in sauces and most desserts, buy silken tofu. You find silken tofu almost anywhere. Don't buy silken tofu for anything but sauces or desserts or you will be disappointed.

I have tried pressing tofu, freezing tofu, and frying tofu. I prefer baked tofu. It has the chewy texture of fried tofu without the additional fat. Tofu can soak up an amazing amount of fat!!

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It's hard to cook vegetarian without encountering tofu in the kitchen. In order to cook tofu that is edible, you have to buy it correctly.

Baked Tofu

1. Slice a pound tub of firm tofu into eight pieces.

2. Rinse and place in one layer on a non-stick cookie sheet or other flat pan.

3. Season with salt and dry spices, then rub in spices if you wish. 

4. Bake at 325 to 375 degrees until tofu puckers and slightly browns on one side.

5. Turn and brown the other side if desired.

6. Store in covered container (no water) until ready to use.

7. Your chewy tofu is ready to add to almost any dish now. You can also eat a slice in a sandwich.

8. Cook enough for one week, although baked tofu usually lasts at least ten days in your refrigerator. Spoiled tofu smells awful so use your nose when in doubt.

Grilled Tofu

Also try grilling tofu in slices on a cast iron griddle. 

Slice a pound of tofu into 8 slices. Salt and pepper or other seasonings can be rubbed into the tofu. Grill on medium-low heat until tofu is your desired shade of brown. Store as per instructions for baked tofu.

 

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If you use tofu in stews, stir-fries, grilled dishes, or sautés, buy Chinese-style tofu in tubs of water.

Tip: I put a stainless steel knife under one side of the cookie sheet. This slight angle makes water run to the end of the pan where it evaporates. That's not totally necessary, but it hastens the baking process.

Spices: Use salt and pepper as your only seasonings unless you have a particular dish in mind when you bake tofu. You add other spices as you cook.

Nutrition: The more tofu is pressed, the firmer it becomes, and the more nutrients it contains. When you buy soft tofu, you are buying less soy and more water--normally for the same price.

Local Sources: Firm, Chinese-style tofu is manufactured locally by Calco. If you can't find Calco at an Asian store near you, call Calco Dallas at 214 331-6122.

Tofu Noodles: Calco also makes wonderful tofu noodles. They add healthy soy protein and texture to most dishes, including soups and salads. I have only seen these noodles at Asian stores.

Cooking with Tofu

Glazed Tofu
Peanut or Almond Sauce for Tofu
Tofu Sandwiches
Tofu Brownie
Tofu Eggless Salad

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