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All About Tofu


Tofu is an important food in many East Asian and Southeast Asian cultures. It is a great vegetarian protein source and is created by pressing soymilk into a solid block. Tofu has a very mild flavor that soaks up seasonings and spices very well. While you can eat tofu right from the package, most people choose to press the tofu of extra water, season with their favorite flavors and cook it to get the tofu a little crispy.

There are several firmness levels available, from silken, soft, firm, extra firm to super firm. You may also find baked tofu at the store. Firmer tofu has less water, while softer tofu has more water. 

Do I need to press my tofu?

Tofu that is not pressed will lose its distinct shape and can sometimes turn out to be watery. Tofu that is pressed will hold its shape better, making it perfect for creating cubes. If you want your tofu to be able to get crispy, pressing is very important.

Silken/Soft Tofu: You shouldn’t press this type of tofu, as it is usually more delicate. This type works best if only lightly cooked. It can also be blended into smoothies or sauces. This type has a creamier texture that gives it versatility.

Firm Tofu: This type of tofu can be pressed for the best texture. Read below to learn how to press your tofu.

Extra Firm/ Super Firm:  This type of tofu may or may not need to be pressed. To find out, wipe the tofu with a paper towel. If the paper towel gets very wet, you may want to press your tofu to release some of the liquid.

Baked Tofu: This type of tofu does not need to be pressed. Feel free to add this directly to your meal, or cook further with your favorite sauce and seasonings. 

How to press tofu:

  1. Wrap your tofu in a clean cloth kitchen towel. Place on a plate or rimmed sheet pan. This will help catch any water that comes out of the tofu. You can use paper towels in a pinch, but it will not soak up as much water as a cloth towel will. 
  2. Place another sheet pan or plate on top of the wrapped tofu. Stack some heavier items on top of the top, such as a cast iron skillet, or some heavier books. 
  3. Leave in place for at least 30 minutes. If your kitchen towel is soaking wet halfway through, you can also replace it with another towel to help take more water out.

Now what?

Season with your favorite seasonings and bake or sauté. Once fully cooked, add the tofu to a stir fry or salad for a little extra protein. You can also try our tofu recipes Tex-Mex Tofu Scramble, Tofu with Broccoli, Chinese Long Bean and Tofu Salad, and Tofu Fruit Salad

Maggi Samson MS, RDN, LDN
March 6, 2023
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